I never wanted to be a vice principal.
But within a day of being on the job, I loved it. I felt I was doing something that I was meant to do and really enjoyed the opportunity.
On the second day, I wanted to be a principal.
It was not because my principal wasn’t effective. Quite the opposite. It was because he was highly effective. I loved learning from him and wanted to do what he was doing.
But I still loved my current job.
My principal learned of my aspirations quickly, and he brought me into the decision-making process, although my position was VP, he shifted that position immediately to “principal in training.” He brought me into the process of what it took to be a principal and put me into situations that would better prepare me for that position. This only made me want to become a principal more.
The complexity of being a principal, which often pushes people away from the job, drew me to it even more. I felt this was something I was meant to do.
In my second year, I started applying for principal positions with the total blessing of my current principal, who was amazingly supportive and instructive in the process. Then one day, an opportunity came my way to lead a different school. I was so excited about the prospect, but there were other aspects of the position that I wasn’t ready for, which included moving communities and living a very different life in a small town. As much as I wanted the position, I also knew from previous jobs that what I did outside of work had significantly affected my career. The job was enticing, but the life outside of the job wasn’t as appealing. Something didn’t sit right with the opportunity.
After a lot of deliberation and soul searching, I decided to turn the position down, even though it was the job I wanted so badly. I was destroyed because I thought it would be my last chance, and I would burn a bridge by turning this opportunity down.
My principal knew I was struggling with what to do, and he said, “I want you to think about your decision right now and ask yourself if you were to stay here, could you be happy at this school and in this position for another year?”
To which I replied, “Of course!”
He then said, “So your worst-case scenario at this moment is that you will turn down a job that you want that you know isn’t a good fit for your life, and you will have to stay in a school and job you currently love?”
Too often, we want the future so bad that we make some terrible decisions in the present. I had a job I loved in a community that appreciated me, and staying was my worst-case scenario. That seems like a good situation, which many others wish they had themselves.
I turned down the opportunity, and as one of my other mentors had shared many times with me, I embraced that “Everything happens for a reason.” I decided to stay at my currently fantastic job at my incredible school.
About one month later, a job I never expected to open did, and I became the new principal while keeping the personal aspects of my life intact. Only when I turned down the opportunity for “good” that the door to “great” opened for me.
If you are in a place you hate, try to find a way out. I could write those stories as well.
But I wanted to remind myself that sometimes, what you have right now is pretty awesome, and you have to identify if the next thing is actually the better thing or just the next thing?
Appreciating where you are today can often lead to better opportunities tomorrow.