Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Choosing to Show My Face

Choosing to show your face, back your beliefs, and accept accountability for your actions all point to comfort with transparency.

Leading at a young age is a challenge.  At every turn, you find yourself hiding the developmental features of your age and asking those around to accept an alternate version: an overdeveloped fa├žade of maturity.  You fell into a position of leadership because you understood what leaders do, you understood how to make decisions, you could identify a quality decision, and you knew how to follow through.  Similarly, your analytical processes allowed you to assess and replicate how leaders act.  But you were left continually apologizing for the obvious lack of years behind the intuition and expertise.

With school leaders representing a fairly consistent middle-age range, accepting leadership at the age of 26, I found myself trying to emulate a middle-aged educator.  I accepted an unassuming, middle-aged style and kept deadly quiet about my not-so-middle-aged hobbies.  Over time, I found myself developing two distinct paths of maturity, working to maintain aged credibility at work while living out my youthful preferences during my free time. Not surprisingly, I was terrified of transparency.  I preferred to withdraw socially from my staff, community, or parents in fear that someone would discover that I really wasn’t a middle-aged educator.

The tragic consequences of accepting an alternate version of myself has been a collection of less than impressive personal judgments and decisions.  So many of these choices have left scars of remorse and regret. 

Ultimately, we all make the most bizarre choices when we are uncomfortable with who we are.  When we feel ashamed, we hide.  And it is when we hide that we are most vulnerable to the egregious decisions, lapses of judgment, of which we are most embarrassed.

So, I have determined to back my beliefs and be held accountable for all I do and say around them.  What do I believe?  I believe that every human is innately beautiful and it is the manifestation of our highest social being to draw out this beauty in all that we meet.  I believe that love is to be given freely, even when we are broken by it.  In the end, we grow from having loved, not by receiving it.  I believe in making the tough choices that lead to the greater good for the people I serve.  I believe that it is done with kindness, affirmation, and support.  I believe that life is to be lived to its fullest with as little judgment as possible on what brings individual happiness. 

The most liberating step I took was to align my beliefs and my actions to accept full transparency.  It is in the spirit of this transparency that I show my face next to the words and beliefs that I espouse.