Self-Controlled – Regulates behavior to achieve goals, acts strategically, and stays calm during stress.
Self-Management – Monitors and takes responsibility for one’s own behavior and well-being, personally and professionally.
Personal – The capacity to reason about personality and to use personal information to enhance one’s thoughts, plans, and life experiences.
For Your Reflection
Dr. Jason Leahy, Executive Director, Illinois Principals Association
According to author Thomas Sterner, “Without self-control, you have no real power, regardless of whatever else you accomplish.” Wise words, especially for school leaders who are responsible for organizations as multifaceted as schools. Just consider the web of relationships, problems to be solved, instructional processes, continuous improvement efforts, activities and athletics, parent organizations, community groups, etc., etc. that you manage and lead daily. With such complex systems to oversee and keep running smoothly, you must exhibit self-control in order to provide consistent, steadfast leadership. Otherwise, you put pressure on the systems you are responsible for and lose your power to lead others.
Now, while you consider what it means to be self-controlled, please don’t think that I am encouraging you to become a person void of emotion and passion for what you do. There is no need to turn into Mr. Spock here. Your followers need to see that you are indeed human, have feelings, and are willing to have fun every-once-in-a-while. Rather, I encourage you to consider how to discipline yourself to stay under control in ways that will likely maximize your effectiveness and bring more satisfaction to your work. Here are some examples:
- Discipline to manage the clock, ensuring there is time for those dearest to me and margin for the unexpected.
- Discipline to get plenty of rest.
- Discipline to eat right.
- Discipline to exercise.
- Discipline to get quiet.
- Discipline to think and dream.
- Discipline to meditate or pray.
- Discipline to care for my family.
- Discipline to invest in important relationships, including colleagues, mentors, accountability partners, and friends.
- Discipline to serve, even when it is inconvenient for me.
- Discipline to make wise, ethical, and sometimes hard decisions.
- Discipline to do the important work.
- Discipline to be kind and think well of others.
- Discipline not to overreact, especially with things that upset me.
- Discipline to constantly grow and improve.
- Discipline to have fun.
- Discipline to be grateful.
So, that is quite a list, and probably just the start. However, don’t be overwhelmed by it. No person on the planet does them all well all of the time. But truth be told, you are probably doing better with more of them than you think. In fact, several are probably not just disciplines for you but are habitual behavior.
For those “disciplines” (on the list above or on a list of your own) that you could use to work on, consider building them into your growth plan. With some intentionality on your part, I am confident those “disciplines” will turn into habits (good ones), too. And while you are on the journey, be encouraged by these words from author Akirok Brost: “It’s hard to guard your actions and reactions. It takes an enormous amount of self-control and discipline. However, it is always better than the alternative of giving away your power.”
To Keep You Thinking
Have you ever had a leader who lacked self-control or didn’t seem to have their act together? What impact did it have on you and your ability to be effective?
Considering the list of “disciplines” above, what do you feel you are doing a good job with? What are one or two that you could do better? What’s missing from the list?