But there was a problem. There was nothing in Luke’s life outside of school that told him he was special that told him he could achieve his dreams and hopes for the future. He lived on the local estate which was just as soulless and depressing as most other high-rise inner-city dwellings and he lived in a home where love was regularly displaced with anger, retribution and fear. However, that wasn’t going to stop me. I believed in Luke, I believed in what the future could hold for him. I believed that if we could just get his mother onside too, she would also come to believe in the vision that I held for her son.
Jungian analyst James Hollis argues that this is because, when we develop the capacity to accept and work with the anxiety and ambiguity which often accompanies movement outside of our comfort zone, we grow up:
Move into unfamiliar territory and anxiety is activated as our constant comrade... psychological or spiritual development always requires a greater capacity in us for the toleration of anxiety and ambiguity. The capacity to accept this state, abide it and commit to life is the more measure of maturity.
[Hollis, 2006: 40]
In accepting this truth, we accept that life is not always easy. In the context of school leadership we also accept that struggle is as much about our own maturity and growth as it is about the maturity and growth of our schools and those we lead and manage.
Without patience and time, neither we nor our children would ever know the beauty of butterflies. If you are a school leader, the one thing that you never seem to have enough of is time. Everything is urgent and everything needs to have been done yesterday. But if you are to both survive and thrive in your role, then time is a gift that you need to learn to be able to give to yourself. Just as nature affords time to the change process, school leaders have to have personal time invested in them as they learn to manage both the personal and external processes of school transformation.
Time which will enable them to: Stop, pause and reflect Refill their emotional, mental and spiritual reservoirs Embrace and develop new mechanisms for coping with the challenges of school leadership Strengthen their inner foundations Re-align themselves with all things, both personal and professional, that are of the greatest importance to them.
Conclusion Our schools and our children do not need anymore super heads. What our education system needs is school leaders with super hearts. Individuals who have learnt what it takes to face thier win fears, doubts and uncertainties. Individuals who have learnt that “ Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it” And that triumph over fear requires support, personal validation and a common understanding of the vulnerabilities that we all share. Derek Redmond Just like you he had a goal /dream He stumbled and he fell Obvious he was tired, he was in pain He needed help to get to the finish line He accepted that help and in doing so proably learnt more about resiience and hope than if he hadn’t stubmbled and fell.
How School Leaders Learn
to Dare Greatly
Why vulnerability and
courage are two sides of the
Who am I?
• Viv Grant
• Former Head teacher
• Executive Coach
• Director of Integrity
• Mother of three children
“ Uncertainty, risk
Facing up to:
- Self doubt
“It is our fears / our own vulnerabilities
that sometimes hamper our ability to be
courageous and show up as the leaders
we want to be. We put on a brave face,
but this brave face can lead to us
leading with less authenticity and so we
inadvertently minimise the impact of our
Qualities of Courageous School
• That school development is also about
• The relationship between school
improvement and personal/professional
• Who they are as individuals
• Why time is a gift that they need to give
Quality #1: Understand School
Development = Emotional Development
Quality # 2: Understand the relationship
between School & Personal Improvement
Positive aspects of the teacher
• Confirmed your identity as a teacher
• Affirmed your strengths
• Nurtured self belief
• Helped you to trust in yourself
Living with ambiguity
“ Move into unfamiliar territory and anxiety
is activated as our constant comrade...
Psychological ... development always
requires greater capacity in us for the
toleration of anxiety and ambiguity. The
capacity to accept this state, abide to it
and commit to life is more the measure
James Hollis: 2006
Quality # 3: Understand
Who you are
“ Leaders often do not fully
recognise the extent to which,
‘who they are affects virtually
every aspect of their
Understanding Self: Key Questions
• What do I think is true about
• What do I think is important in
• How do I respond to what I think
• How much do I value myself?
The foundations of who you are
• Self -Esteem
Time invested in you helps you to ...
• Refill your emotional, mental and spiritual
• Embrace and develop new mechanisms
for coping with the challenges of school
• Indentify what courage feels and looks
like for you
Courage is not the absence of
“ Courage is not the
absence of fear, but
the triumph over it”