Sunday, August 4, 2013

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda: 5 Strategies to Avoid Worry

cc flickr photo by azjd14
Worrying is like paying on a debt that may never come due.  ~ Will Rogers
I worry -- a lot more than I should.  It's not something that I am proud of, or that I enjoy.  In fact, it is a characteristic that I know is counterproductive to effective leadership (as well as my personal health and attitude toward my profession).  It contributes to challenging decision making, diminishes confidence, and leads to a great deal of second guessing.  I'd love to be a confident decision maker, able to put worries behind me, but I know that worry is in my nature, and therefore, I have to have a plan to make decisions in a way that diminishes my capacity for concern.

Here are five strategies I am trying to implement in order to avoid stressing over the decisions I make as a school leader:

1.  Be Informed 
We don't always have the time to do a great deal of research when making decisions, but in most cases we can afford to slow down a bit and be certain that we are looking objectively at situations that require action.  This little bit of extra time might be enough to avoid mistakes.

2. Do the Right Thing
When faced with tough decisions, do the right thing.  In schools, this usually means doing what is best for kids.  In most cases, decisions involve multiple players and numerous potential outcomes.  There is a good chance that regardless of the decision that is made, not everyone will be pleased.  If you do what you truly think is right, you should be able to feel good about the outcome.

3. Reflect, but Don't Dwell
Reflecting on the decisions we make is good.  What went well?  What didn't?  What could be done better in the future?  The key is not to obsess over decisions that have already been made.  Ask yourself if you could have done something better, make note of it, and then get on with the business at hand.

4. Say "I'm Sorry"
If you make a mistake, or feel like you have made a poor decision, be willing to apologize.  A little humility in the face of a failure can be refreshing for everyone involved.

5. Move On
Don't play the "shoulda, woulda, coulda" game.  Once a decision has been made, do everything possible to ensure a successful outcome, and move forward.

Trust me when I say that I don't have any level of expertise in avoiding worry, but I do have a lot of experience in what it feels like.  For me, the therapeutic aspect of blogging is the opportunity to get my thoughts in writing, and have a plan for improvement.

What do you do to ensure confidence in the choices you make?  Please share!

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