Ralph Waldo Emerson has a way with words and sentences. Especially with the inspirational type. He has this wonderful knack of saying the most sensible things when it comes to that thing that we all do every single day; living.

Even more amazing he does so through the mist of time. He wrote his words over 150 years ago, but somehow they still strike a chord.

Mmmm, maybe he knew all this stuff because he was taught initially by his Aunty, Mary Emerson. And her middle name was Moody. Maybe this helped him see the world for what it is and what it should be?

His quote that sang to me this week is this one:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”.

It seems to me to be a particularly pertinent quote in a vocation like ours, principalship/educational leadership. 

We wear many hats, and are meant to be so much to so many different people, that it’s often hard to lose sight of who we really are as a person. You know, as a living being.

The world that we get paid to be in, as Emerson so rightly says, is constantly trying to make us something else.

How many times did you find yourself stressing out in the last 2-3 weeks when you found yourself in situations that weren’t at all comfortable? But because you were the boss, you were expected to just live with it. How many times did you find yourself taking a concrete pill, or putting on your big boy/girl pants and doing it anyway – often at the expense of your own personal stress levels and comfort zone. 

Your role is essentially to be everything and anything to everyone else. And you get paid for it – how lucky are you! That’s sarcasm, that last bit, but it’s true. We think because we get numeration for this “masking” that that’s all ok. We are our own worst enemy.

If we go back to Emerson though, he makes a fabulous point. Being yourself is the greatest accomplishment.

And as the saying goes; “There’s not many of YOU around – you are unique”, so you might as well make the most of it in your esteemed positions.

Chances are when you were first employed in the role, that those at the interview also saw you as a person, with a thing called a personality. No doubt they sat around the table during the decision making process wondering, and often dreaming, about how your personality would transform their school. That’s YOU that they wanted and so it’s YOU that they chose.

So next time you find yourself in one of those tricky situations ask yourself one simple question:

“What would YOU do?” and more importantly; “What WILL you do?:


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6 thoughts on “What Would You Do?

  1. Sandi Abel says:

    Words of wisdom as usual Steve – hope you live by this too. As usual again – appreciate the insights.
    Take care Sandi

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