Rungs on a ladder

I was recently asked what professional accomplishments I was most proud of.  It seems like a pretty simple question, right? Well, that was not the case, at least for me.

The reason I had trouble answering the question is that the word “accomplishment” seems rather terminal…an end.  For certain, I have had a lot of goals and accomplished many of them. But for me, goals are like rungs on a ladder.  They represent a single place on a continuum, or a guidepost on a journey. I’ve spent so much time avoiding getting caught up in seeing those rungs as destinations, that the idea I would hold those up as virtual trophies just didn’t feel right.

The right place, the right time and the right people.

As I considered the question further, I realized that there are indeed many “accomplishments” in my career for which I take great satisfaction. However, every one of those is simply a result of being at the right place, at the right time and surrounded by the right people. So, rather than referring to “accomplishments,” I decided to respond with the things for which I am grateful. 

First, I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to write early into my career. I enjoy sharing ideas and leveraging my communication skills to change others’ behaviors and mindsets about students, the learning environment and perspectives about education.  

I am also grateful for the leadership opportunities I have been granted. As a principal, I learned a lot about the important responsibility of the instructional leader and how to place the needs of students above the needs of the adults in the learning environment. As a superintendent, I learned about being direct, yet tactful, in order to ensure clarity of mission and transparency of communication. As an educational service agency administrator, I learned a lot about servant leadership.  I have also had the opportunity to learn about purpose and relationships and how to nurture both among the people on my team. 

I could go on and on, because I am grateful for so many things and so many people who guided me, set an example for me and offered advice or opportunities.  But instead, I’ll ask you the question.

What are your accomplishments?  

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