I’m lucky to work for a very innovative educational organization. Our department, and our agency as a whole, really cares about pushing people’s thinking, and making it clear that the status quo is an okay place to visit, but not a place you want to live.
In all the work that we do, our goal is to meet the needs of our districts, for teachers, leaders, and students down the line. Sometimes we miss the mark, but in general, we have a great system in place to help districts meet their needs.
One of the things that really keeps me going is the opportunity to “go out on a limb” quite a bit. My supervisor encourages all of us within the department to reach for new heights and take risks, whether they be large or small. This risk-taking has made me more comfortable sharing ideas that might be a bit out of the box, and has helped me to be more comfortable sharing dissenting views.
Leaders who provide opportunities to “go out on a limb” serve as phenomenal mind-stretchers for their staff. Leaders who actively encourage this risk-taking (as my supervisor does) actually serve as phenomenal mind-makers, as so much of who I am is thanks in part to leaders who have pushed me to push myself, and therefore, push others.
There is tremendous value to constantly pushing ourselves to try new things, and there is tremendous value to opening our practice up to others by doing things differently, and sharing what worked (and what did not).
As I mentioned to a colleague today, I feel particularly blessed that my personal and professional life has been filled with countless mistakes. It has made my successes that much richer, and has helped me to see that nothing, truly nothing, is achievable without struggle and challenge.
And I like it that way.
Because if we aren’t going to put ourselves out there, if we aren’t going to take risks that expose our vulnerabilities, then we can never truly be transparent, and therefore never truly be all that we can be.