Friday evening around 5:30, the Middle School Head knocked on the door to the modular where my classroom is located and peeked his head in the door. He smiled and said, “It’s getting late.” I looked up from my computer and assured him that I was leaving in a few minutes. As I drove home, I thought about the value of that simple gesture. As a leader, he took the time to notice the light on and come by and acknowledge my presence on campus as he was leaving. His message to me was, “go home,” and he was modeling that by leaving himself. It was Friday and the school day had been over for hours. It was time to switch gears and go home to spend time with my husband.
According to John Donahoe, CEO of eBay, “The world will shape you if you let it. To live the life you desire, you must make conscious choices” (George, 2015, p. 159). I had to make a conscious choice to stop preparing my lesson plans for the following week and walk out the door to live in the moment and start the weekend. I appreciate that I work at a school and have a leader that values the importance of finding a balance between work and home. “Authentic leaders are constantly aware of the importance of staying grounded” (George, 2015, p. 159).
Leaders balance professional priorities all day every day, but it is important not to forget to prioritize time for personal development and commitments. “Neglecting to integrate the facets of life can derail you” (George, 2015, p. 159). Our lives are like a kaleidoscope. Each piece of colored glass represents an aspect of our lives. The choices we make are reflected in the patterns of behavior in our daily living. The patterns and sequences are constantly changing with the movements we make in each situation we face. “Ultimately, our lives are an expression of the choices we make” (George, 2015, p. 167).
In order to be authentic leaders, we have to spend time on things other than work. The time spent with families and close friends, on physical and spiritual activities, and doing community service helps us be true to ourselves. Understanding what is most important in our lives helps us prioritize our focus. Self-reflection exercises are a powerful method for taking time to think clearly about our lives and help us evaluate all the moving pieces. Taking time to integrate all the parts of daily life is critical to avoiding compartmentalizing our lives. It helps us be authentic in all aspects of our lives by enjoying the freedom of being who we are everywhere we go. We can experience real integrity by being true to ourselves in all settings (George, 2015).
Life is about trade-offs and sometimes work is the priority. The challenge is learning how to recognize when it is time to turn out the lights and make the choice to spend time on something else that is equally or more valuable in life. Our challenge is to be the leader who motivates and empowers followers to fulfill the vision while simultaneously helping them learn this valuable lesson, as well.
George, B. (2015). Discover Your True North. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley