She asked a question that ended our date that night. While the question provided an opportunity for leadership growth and development, it functionally ended the night.
Date night is a big deal in my house. The frequency of dates with my wife serves as a barometer for the health of our relationship. It’s also a practice that we remain committed to so that distance does not grow. Arranging successful dates are also minor feats. Lining up free time, securing babysitters, and coming up with a novel, and romantic, can be magnanimous challenges.
My incisors were sinking their way into a piece of artisan pesto pizza; I never did make it through that bite.
She asked, “Do families know that there isn’t school tomorrow?”
Instead of finishing the meal with a delectable dessert or a long walk on Ocean Beach, we headed up to the school.
You see, it was Sunday night. And there wasn’t school the next day. In fact, we were having the first school holiday of the year and we had not blasted a message to families, via email, paper flyer, website or call.
I could just see scores of families lined up at the gate, only to be turned back home. Frustrated parents would be forced to call in sick from work.
Facing this grim possibility, I did what any other rookie principal would do. I apologized to my wife. I drove up to the school. I searched the custodial space for a ladder and key to the marquee. I turned the headlights of my car on, and I spelled out the following message, letter by painful letter:
No School Monday
School Resumes 9/27
Then…first thing Monday, I articulated a procedure with staff, so that this would never happen again.
I learned a few things through this first year foible:
1. Learn to laugh at yourself. While I was not laughing while on top of that ladder, I continue to laugh about the incident today!
2. We all need time away from the work. Dates with spouses, backpacking trips with college buddies, and beach days with the family recharge us and make us better. When our attention is divided, as it was in this instance, we are not getting true rest and restoration.
3. Systems need fine tuning. The operational systems at our schools need frequent analysis and tweeking, if they are to serve our communities well. Our strategy/ approach to communication has needed lots of tweeking to reach stakeholders.
4. Effective Leaders take ownership. I wrote about taking leadership here. At the end of the day, the buck stops with us.
5. Leaders makes mistakes too. And that is okay! How we respond to our mistakes is what makes us.
Image by Glenn Lascuna via Flickr.