A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot.
I heard this quote and it resonated strongly.
As headteachers and school leaders we are all setting goals right now. Ask yourself, are you more scared or more excited by the goals you are setting? When you communicate these goals, are your listeners (staff, parents, and the wider community) more scared or more excited by them?
‘A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot’…we need to get that balance right.
Recently, I have been saddened by the number of messages I have read that portray a fear factor of the year ahead. We do not seem to have the balance right, at all. There is a dread of returning to school. ‘What is best thing about being a teacher? Answer: August.’ Whilst I see the funny side, quotes like this give a constant, subtle message of discontent about the job/life we have chosen.
Where has the joy and ‘excitement’ gone?! Has scare and fear taken over?
A goal should scare you a little…of course, it should. If not, it may not be challenging enough. We all know the feeling when we go for an interview or stand at the start line of a race…that ‘scare/fear’ is a good, healthy fear that drives us to give of our best and focus on doing everything we can to achieve.
But, as soon as we tip the balance too far, the ‘fear’ overwhelms and takes over. We are overcome with negative thoughts that fill our minds and our talk. They fill our HEADS and HEARTS…and then are played out in our words and actions. As a school leader, this is not good, and it does not have to be this way.
A goal should scare us a little…BUT excite us A LOT.
Ask yourself, very honestly, if you are excited by the goals you have set. If not, it is highly likely that others will not be excited by them either. It is ok if you do not feel as excited as you would hope. Maybe you are starting to realise that the joy is not what it was. Recognising that is the first step. Without question, we all want to do the best job possible. So, what do we need to consider when it comes to feeling more ‘excited’ about our goals…about the future of our school communities?
- EXPERT – Be confident in your ability. Remember you are the expert. You have been put in this privileged position and have so much to offer a whole community. Embrace it and get excited about your role and about being the EXPERT.
- XPECTATIONS – You can only get genuinely excited by goals that are ambitious. Have high expectations. When watching the Olympics you see that coming first (the hardest challenge) leads to far greater excitement from the runner and everyone around than coming fifth. Your expectations need to be high enough that everyone will want to celebrate like the runner getting gold! If you achieve these goals you will have made a real difference to the children in your care. Are your XPECTATIONS high enough to get everyone really excited?
- COLLABORATE – Excitement grows when others around you feel the same, like in the analogy above. Work with others to set your goals. Set aside quality time together. Involve stakeholders at all levels. Question, challenge, reflect, reword…repeat, repeat, repeat. COLLABORATE with others, share and grow the excitement.
- INSPIRED – Look at others who have been there and done it. Be inspired by others who have gone before you and achieved great things. Read, follow the latest research and unfollow those who fill your head and heart with negativity about the profession. How often do you get excited and INSPIRED by others and by what you read? Do you need to commit more time to this?
- TWEAK – When agreed, your goals should remain the same but the road to get there may have to be reviewed and actions changed. If you continue with an action that is clearly having little impact, the negativity at all levels will soon kick in and hoover up all the excitement. Accept, before you start, that TWEAKS will be part of the journey.
- EMPOWER – Consider if your goals will go on to empower others and indeed, can the goals empower themselves and the next steps in your plan? If you set the goal correctly, it is not just about arriving at the destination and achieving the goal, it is about creating a platform to build on. A goal will really excite you when it EMPOWERS and is seen as part of a far bigger picture.
The great thing about EXCITE and excitement is that it leads to action. Be confident in your Expertise, have high eXpectations, Collaborate, be Inspired, accept Tweaks and look to Empower. Considering this framework will help spur you on to take action that achieves goals and even celebrates them!
Like the child at Christmas when they get a new bike or a first year teacher when they get their very own class…let us act with excitement and joy!
‘A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot.’