The decisions we are having to make right now in the frontier of this new environment can riddle the most confident leader with anxiety. Every path we go down seems to be punctuated with difficulties. Bain and Company, a research firm, suggests that the organizations that adopt the mindset of Advance, Retreat, Adjust, Repeat will come through this period as winners.
It may look like this: Make a decision to move forward in a specific direction (Advance), listen to the responses you hear about the mistakes you made that will cause you to have to back up (Retreat), learn from listening and your mistakes and try something new (Adjust), and then (Repeat) the process. In truth, this is what we ask students to do every day—and we deem it the height of learning.
Consider the fact that leadership anxiety stems from fear of making mistakes and then having to deal with the consequences. The need to be right in every situation can actually paralyze a leader and lock him or her into short sighted positions that keep the organization and the people in it from learning from mistakes and finding creative new ways to move forward. In reality, there are no totally right discussions in an environment of such huge uncertainty.
A close look will reveal that perfection has never been the real condition. Rather, we are imperfect people, leading imperfect students, in an imperfect classroom and school, community, state, nation, and world. But, if we move forward with an adjustable mindset, an ability to admit our mistakes when we make them (and we surely will make them), and an eye for creative solutions, we will be leading a much more vibrant school or district quicker than we thought possible.