Monday, August 8, 2016

Note to Self - Wellness is not Selfish

I'm sitting in my office after another great SAI Conference thinking about all that I've learned. A common theme in this year's "Reimagine" conference is to take care of your well-being, so you can take care of those around you (and be a better leader). It reminds me of the airline safety demonstrations regarding oxygen masks:

I'm reimagining my outlook that personal wellness time is time spent selfishly. I'm reimagining how a healthier me can positively impact my work, my life, and my school district.

I know my attitude affects the culture of the building. I believe myself to be a positive person and consider my dedication to my work as a plus. It's that dedication and busy-ness that has helped me let my workouts and nutrition slide a bit. They hadn't seemed as important as getting that email sent, creating a graphic for a presentation coming up, or getting my kids' bags organized or room cleaned.

The closing keynote speaker, Anese Cavanaugh, helped me see something from a new perspective. I had never considered my lack of self-care as a negative toward all the things I care about: my ability to be a good mom and wife, my ability to lead, my role in creating a positive environment. I hadn't considered that giving more to the organization at the expense of my health and well being could actually be negatively impacting the people and the place that I care so much about.

Big Idea #1: If I show up tired and lacking energy, I create a culture around me that reflects that.

At the opening keynote, Eric Wahl encouraged us all to "UNthink" schooling. Creativity isn't reserved for the Picasso's of the world; traditional school makes us think so. Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk on the subject a few years ago gave me some background to that idea. Hearing and seeing the presentation by Eric Wahl made me think about my role in encouraging and supporting our teachers to be creative themselves. How can our organization have the kind of climate for the adults that we want to foster for our students? Just as I know I have to support each teacher in their role in creating this environment, I was able to see that I have a role in it for myself too.

Big Idea #2: If I believe in supporting teachers to be creative, innovative leaders in our work of educating children and if I believe that they do that better if they are healthy and surrounded by a positive environment, I must also believe that for myself.

Even SAI had a message directly to administrators to support this message of personal wellness. SAI's catch life program operates on the belief that to be the best leaders we can be, we need to have a work-life balance that focuses on our personal wellness as a way to support our organizational wellness.

Ok, I'm in.

So, here's the the little note I'm writing to myself to re-read throughout the year to remind me of the energy, excitement, belief and commitment I have in the 2016-2017 school year:

Dear Jen,
Today you recognized your personal role in impacting culture. You see how you are as important in the culture of the district as the teachers you are working to support. Your health and well-being allow you to come to work energized and to be present for the people who look to you for resources, guidance, and support. You believe the greatest resource this district has are the teachers within it; these adults are the ones that make a child's day - your two boys' day - be what it is going to be. You are not more or less important than they are. You are as important. Your health and well being are important to the work you believe in so much. You are not giving the best of yourself to anyone if you don't take care of yourself first. 
 Choose to make this a great year!
-- Signed your inner voice