This past weekend I was able to attend the National Principal Conference in Philadelphia. While there I was able to choose different sessions to attend based on my interests, and I couldn't wait to attend one by a much respected principal, Jessica Cabeen on Partnering with Families. I sat down and soon realized I was in the wrong session. It was Jessica, but it wasn't about partnering with families. :)
As the session started, Jessica Cabeen and Jon Alberts shared how we would be using improv to help with leadership, I was immediately uncomfortable. My stomach hurt a little and my heart raced. This definitely wasn’t my thing. I don't like getting in front of a bunch of strangers. I wanted to get up and leave, but couldn’t get myself to do it. It’s not that I didn’t think I would learn some great strategies, it was just the feeling of stepping out of my comfort zone that always makes me feel uncomfortable at first.
The session began and I started to feel at ease. We were all participating and taking risks to volunteer and get involved, whether it be at our table or with the entire group. Jessica and John took us through 5 behaviors that can help us improve as leaders: Listen, Defer Judgement, Reframe, Declare, and Jump In.
Reframing stood out to me the most. It’s how you look at things and how you can take something negative and turn it into a positive (or at least neutral). In the field of education we are presented with many things that come at us in a negative way: an e-mail from an upset parent, personnel unhappy with how we handled something, a student in crisis, facility issue…the list can go on. Although it was a leadership strategy that was shared, it’s really just a life one. That one negative moment can impact us for the rest of the day (or even multiple ones!). I strive to not let it. I try to forget about it, but it’s not that easy. Now I can do more that “wish” it away. I’m going to practice reframing the situation and try to find the positive.
My first opportunity happened on my flight home from Philly to Sacramento. As our plane headed out onto the tarmac it slowed to a stop and we were told by the captain that we would be delayed for about 20 minutes and would be sitting there. The 20 minutes turned into 30 and then over an hour. As the man next to me started to get upset and talk about lawsuits, I looked at my friend, Jessica G., next to me and we reframed the situation.
"Thank you Southwest Airlines for delaying our flight and not sending us through bad weather. I would much rather be on the ground than flying through thunderstorms. I now get to use this opportunity to connect face to face with my friend and plan out our first day back with our staff."
Of course we said it in a joking manner, but really we were serious. We laughed. We talked. We planned the first day. I could have gotten upset I could have let it ruin my day, but I didn’t. I took the chance to reframe the situation and find the positive. This year at home and work, I’m going to practice reframing.
I'm thankful I worked through being uncomfortable and stayed for the session. I know have a strategy that will help me daily.
Next time you are faced with something negative, I challenge you to pause and reframe before responding.