Truths or Contradictions
While reading Dare to Lead by Brené Brown, I was struck by this idea that we can embrace seemingly opposing qualities to become daring leaders. Brown talks about having a strong back and soft front to be a daring leader. She goes on to say that you can stay grounded in your confidence, setting boundaries and stay vulnerable and curious at the same time. The idea of being strong and soft can seem like opposites or even contradictions. This idea of holding two opposite ideas together and both can be true and valid is so valuable not just to being a leader but also to being human.
More recently in my career, I have realized that you do not have to stick to the binary of certain qualities. You can be both strong and soft, tough and caring, scared and brave, structured and flexible. As a beginning teacher, I believed more so in the binary. For example, I thought I had to start the school year very strictly and slowly ease up with my students. I soon realized that this does not allow for the open heart, caring, and compassion that is needed to build relationships with students at the start of the year. In contrast, starting the year with no structures and just relationship building could be a disaster. I quickly learned to provide predictable structures and show compassion while taking the time to get to know my students. Many of these lessons were helpful in my leadership roles. The people who looked to me as a leader sought out a similar approach: boundaries and structures with flexibility, caring, and compassion. I work hard to see, know, and embrace these same qualities in the people I work with as well. Understanding that contrasting ideas and feelings can exist side by side and both be true has helped me to build balance and empathy as an educator, parent, and leader.