School leaders are told that it’s lonely at the top. The stress that comes with long hours dealing with intense issues can be draining. Indeed, if you talk to some administrators, they are so unhappy it seems that being the decision maker may not be worth the cost to physical health and well-being. Is there a secret to being a happy school leader? Is it possible to be in a position where “the buck stops here” and still be able to enjoy life? Consider these five thought patterns to give up in the pursuit of happiness.
1. The need to please everyone. Unless you’re leading to the beat of your own drum, your team won’t be able to follow you. Be your best version of yourself and you will naturally attract those who are destined to surround you. Look for ways to reach your vision while meeting the needs of the greater organization. Finding this balance may not please everyone, but you will please those who are in harmony with your values.
2. Worry and regret. Where contemplation goes, energy flows. Worry is investing energy in something you wish to avoid. This is negative energy which can be draining to your life force. Learn to trust and let go. Regrets are a waste; they represent conditions from the past that cannot be changed. Think of regrets as the past crippling you in the present. Every experience can teach you something and make you stronger. Learn from your experiences and become better for them. Then let go of any toxic feelings of remorse.
3. Concern for what others think of you. It may seem counterintuitive, but worrying about what others think of you is a waste of time and energy. It can drag you down and sow seeds of doubt in your mind. Besides, did you ever stop to consider that what other people think of you is none of your business anyway?
4. Insecurities. When you take yourself too seriously as a leader, so will your team. There is only one version of you in the world. Be it and own it. Rather than worry about your own individual style, use it to build your brand.
5. Anger and the need to control. Anger burns the hand of the person that holds onto it. Release it once and for all. Thinking we are in control is an illusion. Learn to embrace the new and welcome change. Remember, you may be in charge, and you can have an influence, but that doesn’t mean you’re in control in an out-of-control world.
Happiness is a state of mind that can affect your behavior. When you are content with what you have and who you are, you can be generous with both.
Pursuing happiness demonstrates your commitment to the core values you hold as a leader. Achieving happiness is a sensible goal both personally and professionally. The secret to achieving happiness as a school leader is to trust your heart and cease worrying about those factors which are beyond the power of your will.