The Call Within: How Headteachers and Senior School Leaders can recognise and respond to the Soul’s Invitation to Growth

A few years ago, I came across an Ancient African Tale of Mella and the Python Healer. In summary, the king is dying. All attempts to heal him have failed. Finally, it falls to his daughter, Mella, to set off on the perilous journey through the dense and lonesome forest until she eventually arrives at the deepest and darkest of caves: the python healer’s home.

On finding the cave, Mella must summon all her wisdom and courage to enter the cave and convince the Python Healer to return with her to her village to heal her father. Mella is successful in her supplications to the Python Healer. But… there is a catch. She must carry this much revered and fearsome creature on her back all the way back to her village. A quest that she valiantly completes. Her father is healed and she is made queen of the village.

Mella is transformed by her journey. She no longer fears the dark and accepts that there will be many other times when she will be called to face her fears, to travel through the unknown to restore both inner and outer harmony for the benefit of herself and those over whom she now rules.

The Headteacher’s Quest

I often think that many Headteachers and school leaders are called on quests similar to Mella’s. A sickness, in the form of a ‘critical incident,’ falls on the village (the school) and they are the ones who are called to face their fears and overcome their anxieties and doubts to restore harmony and balance.

As a coach, I believe these ‘critical incidences’ can be seen as the Soul’s Invitation to Growth. They are invitations that if individuals allow themselves to be still for long enough, they can learn to recognise the signs and then determine the necessary response for developing a more mature sense of self as they grow in their roles.

Recognising the Soul’s Invitation to Growth

When the challenges of school leadership are wrapped up in management speak, their deeper meaning can get lost. Management speak invites an overreliance on the left hemisphere of the brain. As a result, problems and challenges are addressed from a purely logical and rational perspective. Such a one-sided approach to school leadership does not facilitate soul growth. When challenges arise, we need to ask questions that also engage the right brain and invite a more soulful enquiry.

The questions below have been designed with this point in mind. If you accept the invitation, they will help you think about a particular challenge you might currently be facing from a more soulful perspective.

So, ask yourself:

  1. To what degree has the situation/challenge you are facing drawn you into unfamiliar territory? How would you describe this territory? Is it an ocean? A desert? A forest? What do these domains symbolise for you?
  2. What neglected parts of yourself will you need to develop to cross this unfamiliar territory?
  3. What might be the gift that you will return with to your current situation if you choose to cross this territory and develop the neglected parts of yourself?

A Quest Worth Undertaking

In my experience, when individuals face significant school leadership challenges, they inevitably enter into a much deeper inner journey when they choose to face their queries, questions and self-doubt and step forward along ‘The Road Less Travelled.’ It is a road less travelled because, just as Mella discovered, it is the road where we must face our fears and aspects of ourselves that we have either disowned or projected (the good and the bad) onto others. Because we have not yet found a way to integrate these qualities into ourselves and develop a greater sense of harmony and vocational purpose.

Our souls are always inviting us to grow and in so many respects, the life of a Headteacher is abundant with such invitations. It’s just that the invitations come disguised as crucible moments and we fear we’ll get burnt. So, we turn away from them, rely on old patterns of behaviour, and allow exhaustion and defeat to rule our inner worlds, instead of seeking guidance and support to help us see beyond the old ways. Such support can help us to accept the crucible moments as opportunities to purify old thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours. With time, transformation and the emergence of a new self are ushered into the world.

Meeting the Soul’s Growth Needs: What Can You Do?

At Integrity Coaching, we believe that one way to meet the soul’s growth needs is through CPD, which focuses on asking questions that go beyond the surface.

Consequently, we advocate for a paradigm shift in professional development that transcends conventional questioning techniques and coaching approaches to delve into the depths of the soul. Our Essential Coaching Skills Programme offers a transformative journey towards reconnecting with one’s true self, equipping school leaders to authentically meet their growth needs and those of their teams.

Join the Journey

If this resonates with you, why not embark on this transformative journey with us? Our upcoming cohort commences on 26th and 27th September, offering limited spaces for those eager to delve into the soulful realms of educational leadership.

If you are interested, click here to register now to unlock the potential within yourself and empower those you lead to thrive.


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