Leadership “Worrying” & The Healthy Leader In You
We’ve all worried before and we’re most likely going to worry about something in the next few minutes or sometime over the next few days. We’re human. Worrying is a natural emotion for all of us. But, how does worrying impact our leadership and our schools? Take a look at these familiar feelings:
I’m worried that they won’t like me.
I’m worried that they won’t think I’m smart [or expert at something].
I’m worried that something bad will happen [if I do this or that].
I’m worried that I won’t be able to solve that problem.
I’m worried about changing [this or that].
I’m worried that things won’t turn around for me.
I’m worried that I’m stuck where I am.
I’m worried that they are out to get me.
I’m worried that I worry too much.
You get the point. See, the problem with “worrying,” in general, is that worrying about something never solved any of the above problems or mindsets. In fact, worrying only strengthens and compounds the negative connotation behind all of these situations of the mind.
It is easy to simply tell someone to “stop worrying,” but when we struggle to stop worrying, sometimes others don’t understand why we can’t just control our minds and stop worrying—like turning an on/off switch is easy. There are lots of leaders who worry all the time. Before school board meetings. Before budget votes. Before graduation ceremonies. Before student test scores are publicized.
Unhealthy leadership takes place when leaders think they can control everything and everyone around them. They lose out in the end—both to themselves (with their own colonized minds that are programmed to be negative when things get tough) AND to the students and staff we lead (who aren’t getting the benefit of a healthy leader).
There are ways to combat worrying or at least try to reduce it. Here are just a few tactics:
Practice mindfulness (using all of your senses).
Write down your gratitudes.
Find humorous things (i.e. videos, television shows, jokes) to redirect you when you are worrying about something.
Confront your worries by telling them that you are going to put them off until another day (this is known as the art of using “delay tactics” in cognitive therapy).
Verbalize positive affirmations to yourself (out loud).
Phone a friend and tell them that you are worrying [about something] and you need their help to “talk you off of the cliff.”
Your students and staff deserve the healthiest YOU that they can get. Sometimes, putting on a fake smile to hide the way that you might truly be feeling inside is all that you can do when you are on the spot. But, taking care of yourself by practicing some very explicit tactics that will build the healthiest YOU possible will grow your organization and career in amazing ways.
Just remember: Your staff and students are counting on you, so count on yourself to squelch any worries that you might have because you deserve to be healthy and happy. Worrying just robs you of everything, anyway, and everyone will notice that something is wrong and then they will start worrying about you!