Lessons Learned

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these…let’s see if I can pick it up where I left off in 2015…

Lesson One – What it Means to Serve

A colleague challenged my thinking this year in how I handle service. I always thought my acts, or what I did for people, is a way for me exemplify service leadership. However, my thought process was changed by thinking about it through the lens of how I serve the people around me. This presented itself to me in the form of a critical question; do I look to lift up those around me to let their talents show or am I looking at it through a more selfish lens and only thinking about how my service actions serve me? A leader should be a person that does not seek acknowledgment for their own actions, but rather how to bring the spotlight towards those that surround him or her. This is my goal and something that I hope to personify. Instead of constantly looking internally as to what accomplishments I have achieved, I need to begin looking externally and determining my own success based on how I help those around me reach their own goals.

Lesson Two – Don’t Stop Learning

“You’re crazy”, “I don’t think I could do that”, “does that really give you an advantage”. These are the typical responses I receive from colleagues when I discuss continuing my education. This year I completed my Ed.S. and will be perusing my Ed.D starting this summer. I was able to accomplish this with very little dialog or acknowledgment among my peers, which I prefer, but the typical response I receive is more of one of disbelief. To me, the thought of calling my education “complete” at the age of 32 does not make the most sense. As educators, we are continually trying to instill in our students the desire to achieve more in school, and I myself am a sucker that has bought into this narrative. Growing up, education was not a priority for my family and never was until I made it one myself when I entered college. As an adult, I find myself more curious than ever and have yet to see my drive to continue my education to ever decrease. I want to continue my educational career in both the formal and informal sense. Once the desire to continually grow and learn has died then what do we have to hang our hats on as educators?

Lesson Three – Talk is Free, Time is Valuable

Building upon Lesson Two, Lesson Three is probably the most valuable takeaway I have from this school year. I’ve learned that goals and ambitions do not come at a discounted rate. This year I have taken on a lot of new endeavors that, while worthwhile, can definitely be described as time suckers. While I enjoy learning and do not enjoy sitting idle for long periods of time, I learned that it’s not just about me, but rather the time that these endeavors take away from the valuable people in my life. New opportunities, work relationships, and projects may seem exciting and have great promise; however, at the end of the day, you have to be able to do a personal inventory on how your time is spent and ensure that an imbalance is not created. The people in your life that matter are willing to make sacrifices when it comes to time, but the people that don’t matter will usually exploit this aspect…be able to discern who is who in your life. Finding the balance is difficult, but I want to be able to say I give my attention and time to those that matter the most in my life.

Lesson Four – Speed Isn’t Everything

I have a bad habit of confusing speed with efficiency. My attention span doesn’t allow for me to sit back on my heels and wait for the appropriate time. This year I have learned that how and when you act or speak, is just as important as what you say. While I may feel eager at times to rush out and share, speak, or lead, this year I have gained a respect for pulling back on the reins. That’s not to say that it is easy for me, but I have gained a respect for it which has given me perspective. I now think about my own leadership through this lens and specifically through my communication with colleagues.

Joe McClung

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