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Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray lives the same day over and over? It’s an amusing story with an interesting lesson that can be applied to your leadership life. Some principals live each day with a dreary sense of tediousness. Meetings are held at the same time each week, performance reviews are conducted in an identical manner each year, and routines are chiseled into the very framework of their leadership lives. While it may be true that people feel security through routines, it can also spell disaster for a vibrant, growing, and ambitious school leader.

A forceful enemy to your potential is your comfort zone. These are attitudes that can lure you into well-established routines. For your personal success, becoming your very best means stretching yourself beyond the bounds of your current thinking. If you want to get ahead, you can’t afford to become complacent, living each day the same as the last. If you find yourself suffering from Groundhog Day Syndrome, consider these three shifts in behavior that can help you fulfill your leadership potential:

  1. Learn more. Commit to reading a little every day and exercise your intention to be a lifelong learner. Reading allows you to acquire the collective wisdom of a vast number of experienced people from various disciplines. You learn more by reading more and, as an old adage states, “the more you learn the more you earn.” Make it a priority to expand your typical reading list to authors from outside the public school environment. See life through the eyes of others and a world of opportunity may unfold before you.
  2. Listen more. One of the primary reasons leaders fail is because they forget to take the time to listen to the people around them. They can become insensitive to the needs of the individuals on their team as well as the desires of their colleagues and supervisors. Deeply listen to the people you work with each day with the intention of understanding them anew and establishing a level of respect for their perspectives and willingness to change yours.
  3. Give more. You cannot truly succeed until you give back to the profession. Attend outside seminars and lectures and share your knowledge with aspiring leaders. Your legacy will be what you leave for others.


Bill Murray’s character learned a lot about himself by reliving the same day over and over and, as a result, he established new priorities for his life. He perfected the art of ice sculpting and mastered the jazz piano. He finally emerged from Groundhog Day when he started caring for others with generosity and love, and realized there was more to life than the day-to-day grind of simply existing. If you’re feeling a sense of tediousness, consider breaking out of Groundhog Day Syndrome by changing the way you see your life and leadership potential.



This article originally appeared in an issue of our monthly publication NorthStar for Principals.

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When we understand another person’s perspective, what they are thinking and feeling, we are better able to relate to them and understand their needs.

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