Coaching & Leadership Development

How to Quiet Your Mind at Night

How often does this happen to you? You work hard all day, just waiting to get home so you can relax a bit and then go to bed … only to find that when you get there, your brain is still going a million miles an hour and it’s impossible to switch off. What should be a period of rest becomes a staring contest between you and the clock on your phone as you worry about the day ahead. This is incredibly common among Heads — but it leaves you exhausted, miserable, and unable to do much of anything. And this isn’t just a mental thing: studies show that sleep deprivation, even if it’s just a few hours, causes a similar biological effect on the body as being drunk.   You’d never go to school drunk … but going sleep-deprived isn’t much better!   So what can you do to quiet your mind so that you can get the rest you need? It may surprise you, but the first step happens hours before you even try to go to sleep.   Plan your transition   When you go to school in the morning, you “armour up” so that you can get through the day. If you don’t consciously take that armour off when you transition into your home time, your mind will often stay stuck in work mode, making it hard to relax and impossible to sleep well. So the first thing to do is to plan a period of transition from school to home. Don’t wait until you get home to start decompressing; make it a habit to...

A Head Teacher’s Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt

If I asked you what was going on in the back of your mind right now, what would you say? If you’re like many Heads, it’s a never ending stream of criticisms and complaints about yourself. That mind chatter of “I’m going to be found out … I’m a failure … I must be weak, look at what’s happening … all I do is make mistakes…” No matter what you do, it seems like you can’t shake it, and it only gets louder when you’re stressed. You may not realise it, but it often comes down to…   Your toolkit   We were all given a “toolkit” of thoughts and beliefs as we grew up — some from our parents, some from our teachers, and some from the society we grew up in. Some of these tools are helpful, and some aren’t. Generally speaking, those tools that are helpful grow our self-confidence and belief in our abilities. Those that aren’t helpful have the opposite effect: they bring us down, and keep us from being able to rise to the many challenges that life brings. The great thing is it doesn’t have to be this way. You get to choose what’s inside your toolkit. Here’s how:   Step one: Get curious   The first step is to simply get curious about what’s going on. Reflect on moments when you have felt overwhelmed by self-doubt. What happened? Who was involved? What emotions did you feel, and most importantly of all … can you identify the thoughts that triggered your emotions? Try to become a detective of your own responses.   Step...
Does Becoming a Headteacher Mean the End of Work Life Balance?

Does Becoming a Headteacher Mean the End of Work Life Balance?

It’s incredibly easy to lose yourself in the role of being a Head, to the point that your private life simply drops off the schedule as you work on autopilot, just getting through the day. But this is dangerous, not only for your health and your relationships, but for your school life as well.   If you’re working on autopilot, you’re going to crash eventually.   No matter how much you might not want to admit it sometimes, you’re a person in a role, not a robot. This means that you have all of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs that people have, including that of work life balance. So many Heads just assume that stepping into this role means an end to their work life balance. They put their heads down, get through day after day hoping to make it to retirement, and end up totally incapacitating themselves.   This is tragic for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s preventable!   If you’re currently in “robo-Head” mode, don’t wait for a crisis to force you to reevaluate. Instead, bring some consciousness into your work life balance. Look at how things are now, what’s working and what’s not working. If you find yourself saying a lot of “Yeah, buts” — as in, “Yeah I should spend more time on myself, but…” then ask yourself, “What does it cost me, my family, my friends etc, to keep making these excuses?”   Creating a plan for your personal life   When you started in your position as Head, you set some goals and developed a plan of...