“Stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell themselves, and you change the individuals and nations.”
Stories are not just for the young. They are for all of us. Stories when told well, by-pass the defences and barriers of the rational mind and connect with something deeper that resides within us all. It is my belief that, that something deeper, that essence of what connects us all, that shared humanity has been weakened by current narratives of competition, isolation, scarcity and lack within our education system today. To change the corrosive effect of this current narrative and related stories, we need to encourage more school leaders to share different stories.
We need more school leaders to share their unique stories of:
– Hope and
Stories that have less to do with the ‘doing’ of the role and more to do with the ‘being’.
We need more school leaders who are prepared to stand out from the crowd. We need school Leaders who are prepared to show how high expectations can sit equally alongside, humility, compassion and hope.
We need more school leaders who are prepared to tell stories of how they have gone against the grain and re-written for themselves the notion of what it means to be a leader. Leaders who have said, “No, I will no-longer be defined by my persona, but by the values that I hold dear.”
Equally, we need more school leaders who are willing to talk about the vulnerability that all leaders share. Leaders who are prepared to show how facing up to fears, self-doubt and emotional exposure, have not made them weak, but instead have made them stronger.
Just imagine …
If as a school leader you were supported to tell your own unique story, in such a way that you could:
– Change key elements of the story that you are currently living by?
– Find a new level of authenticity within your own voice that kept you connected to your own sense of agency and purpose
– Find a depth of wisdom and knowing within your own story, that could not only change your schools’ narrative but also the predominant narrative within our education system today?
We need to imagine and we need to believe! We need to believe because as the author Ben Okri says at the top of this blog, “Change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell themselves, and you change the individuals and nations.”
And it is time to change the stories that many of our school leaders are ‘forced’ to live by. Neither children nor adults can flourish where there is an absence of compassion, hope and meaning. Environments that lack these qualities have a detrimental impact on the emotional and psychological state of individuals and consequently on the story that they tell themselves.
The late Carl Rogers said, “There is in every organism, at whatever level, an underlying flow of movement toward constructive fulfilment of its inherent possibilities.”
Yet within our education system today, this ‘underlying flow’ is often restricted and at times thwarted because the surrounding conditions that neither nurture or support ‘fulfilment of inherent possibilities’
Telling stories, allowing new voices to be heard, bringing fresh and diverse perspectives to the school leadership agenda, can help to:
– Strengthen the profession from within
– Bring a greater level of humanity back into the profession
– Keep school leaders in the profession for the long haul
– Ensure that leaders are able to achieve greater levels of congruity between their values and current realities
– Sustain leaders’ sense of agency, vocation and purpose
Which simply, is why we need more school leaders to share their stories!
Over the last few years, there have been more than a few harmful narratives that have seeped their way into our education system. Our leaders now find themselves operating in a profession in which they’re increasingly expected to see pupils as data, their schools as businesses & fellow school leaders as rivals and competitors.
Contrary to popular belief, these narratives are not supportive of our leaders and neither do they ensure the best outcomes for our children. Rather, they often only serve to demoralise, alienate & intensify the emotional challenges of school leadership.
That’s why on the 18th October 2018, we hosted Headteachers & School Leaders from across the country for our “Education for the Soul” 2018 Conference designed to help leaders to explore and discuss what matters most to them (their values, hopes and passion) and locate ways of leading that are aligned to themselves and their hope for their schools.
It is fair to say, the day was a very special one and a huge success with so many school leaders and education professionals joining us for this. It was so wonderful to watch these individuals drop their leadership masks and come together, in service of one another and in service of shared hopes, dreams and ambitions for our children and our schools. Following the success of the conference, I’m delighted to say that in October 2019, we will once again host Headteachers & School Leaders for this special conference.
The conference will aim to build on the outcomes of “Education for the Soul” 2018 and seek to explore how school leaders and teachers can learn to lead with integrity, depth and purpose. As part of this, we will look into how individuals can stay connected to their “why” and the role coaching can play in helping those in education in create alignment with their deepest values.
Above all, “Education for the Soul” Conference 2019 will aim to help school leaders and teachers:
– Foster a deep sense of vocation and purpose amongst all staff
– Gain a better understanding of coaching (theory, processes, neuroscience etc.) and how it enables others to work in deep alignment with their true values
– Increase their understanding of the relationship between school development and adult development
– Keep hope, joy passion, commitment and creativity at the heart of their school and relationships with self and others