The Distance Between Decisions
Jon Harper is a passionate Ed Leader, talented blogger, and Vice Principal at Sandy Hill Elementary School in Maryland.
Many of us make hundreds, if not thousands of these a day. Some are easy and require, little to no thought. While others are difficult and can oftentimes push us to the brink. But how often do we stop and think about the distance between the decisions that we make each and every day?
Do we suspend a child or do we try restorative practices instead?
Do we use last year’s lesson plan or do we take a chance and try something different?
Do we ask for help or do we go it alone?
Do we spend time with our family or do we finish preparing for our next school project?
Herein lies the dilemma. We can’t usually do both. And thus our brain is forced with engaging in a mental tug-of-war, if you will. And it can be very exhausting!
So what happens next? I believe what happens next is what separates good leaders from the truly great leaders. Because traversing the distance between two decisions is not easy. In fact, it is often very stressful if done correctly. This is because, as leaders, people often depend upon us to make numerous decisions each and every day. Others trust that we are making the right decisions. And they needn’t have another thought about it. Because they weren’t the one that made the decision.
Those relying on us to make the decisions have not had to travel the distances we have. This is not a complaint. It simply is not their role. We knew when we signed on to be leaders that we would be forced to travel great distances in the course of a day. Distances that a Fitbit can not possibly track.
But does there come a point when the mental mileage logged in a week simply becomes too much? Does there come a time a when self-doubt begins to creep in and we find ourselves unable to take the last few steps? When does the fatigue of having to travel great distances have a detrimental effect on the day-to-day decisions that we must make?
I wish I had an answer to this question. But I don’t. What I know is that I am going to continue to travel the distance between decisions as I always have. To the best of my ability.
There are days when I leave school feeling like a warrior who has traveled many miles, but has made the right decisions. Then there are days when I feel like one of the Spartans from 300 who has fought the good fight, but still ended up defeated.
I don’t think that there is a simple solution to this conundrum. As long as I am in a position of leadership, as many of us are, I will have to travel great distances between decisions. And it can be exhausting. And it can be frustrating. And it can be deflating.
But you know what?
It can also be invigorating!
To know that there will be times that I will have traveled great distances, and as a result of my travels, I was able to make the right decision. A decision that positively impacted a life. A decision that inspired. A decision that would not have been made, if not for the miles I put in.
Yes, I will continue to travel great distances between decisions. And yes I will make wrong decisions. And there is no doubt in my mind that fatigue will kick in from time to time.
But you know what?
I am a leader.
I am strong.
I will not stop.
And I can do this!
So know that at times you may feel all alone. And afraid. And defeated.
But take solace in knowing that we too are traveling this distance with you.
You may not see us.
But we are there. Wishing upon the same stars. And taking comfort in knowing that you are gazing up at them too.
“March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns or the sharp stones on Life’s path.”