Life happens quickly in real-time. Sometimes we mess up and there's no way to rewind and say, “Hey, let's do that over. That's not what I meant to say or do.”
Growing as a leader requires recognizing that rewind isn't available--you can't go back in time--but, reset is necessary and possible. Building and sustaining healthy relationships is only achieved through a high level of resiliency and disciplined communication.
Rewind vs. Reset
If you're older you might remember the "good old days" of using cassette tapes and sometimes having to manually rewind in order to straighten out the tape. It was a tedious process to not damage or break the fragile media.
I'm glad those tapes are gone! Some things need to stay in the past.
As we know from experience, there is no rewind button in life.
But, the really good news is that we do have access to a reset button. We can't rewind, but we can reset.
We can choose to make different decisions.
We can choose to heal relationships.
We can choose to change what goes into our minds.
We can choose a different attitude with constructive words and deep joy.
We can choose to change how we interact with people.
We can choose the types of people with whom we spend time--recognizing that we inevitably become like them.
We can choose to reset. Reset ourselves. Reset relationships.
The ability to reset and find a different path forward is critical to our life and influence. Too many lose their joy by stubbornly hanging on to the past--often rehashing and re-living those painful emotions--allowing bitterness to invade their soul and their organization.
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I've tried
Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the [person] you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know
Well, now they know
Let it go, let it go
(Let It Go by Idina Menzel)
It can sound trite, but as the song says, we're so much better off and more likely to achieve our goals when we're able to forgive and truly do let it go.
Resiliency is often used to describe the ability to recover from difficult situations and persevere forward. It has been repeatedly shown to be a vital part of our mental health, physical well-being, and career success.
Resilience has been shown to positively influence work satisfaction and engagement, as well as overall well-being, and can lower depression levels. There is even evidence that resilience can help protect us from physical illness. But resilience, conventional thinking assumes, is something we find within ourselves only when we are tested — a kind of solitary internal “grit” that allows those of us who are strong to bounce back.
But that’s not necessarily true. Our research (which is not yet published) shows that resilience is not purely an individual characteristic, but is also heavily enabled by strong relationships and networks.
(The Secret to Building Resilience by Rob Cross, Karen Dillon, and Danna Greenberg in Harvard Business Review )
Whether we think of it as grit, determination, toughness, adaptability, etc., resiliency is core to a life worth living.
I have enjoyed the privilege of mentoring a wide range of leaders, helping them maximize their influence and success. Some of the background stories from their lives are both compelling and humbling because of the challenges they had to overcome: child abuse, corrupt partners, disease, failures, loss of loved ones, and so many other painful situations.
It's incredible how some people are able to get past those difficult challenges of life so successfully, developing a high level of resiliency and emotional intelligence.
They grew because of these experiences rather than being victims of them, and the primary source of their strength was the people in their network of relationships who fueled them with encouragement, support, and guidance.
Growing and becoming the best version of us as educational leaders requires the ability to reset and develop personal resiliency through our network.
Our success is directly determined by our capacity to build and sustain an ecosystem of relationships that sometimes can get fragile. It's often exhausting work that requires a very steady hand, but the hearts and souls we impact through our living testimony are certainly worth it.
Leave 2020-21 in the past. Hang on to the wisdom and insights you've gained, keep building those human connections, and let the rest go.