In order to address the “elephant in the room” right off the bat, we all know that working in the early childhood field is a bit stressful right now. So what do we do when it seems like everything is out of our hands, but we still have an important job to do? How do we turn off the “static”?
“The electricity bill is due,” “staff meeting tonight,” “denied parents,” “late fees;” static is when there are so many things going on in your head you can barely hear yourself think. Right now, with the turmoil and uncertainty surrounding State funded programs, it’s safe to assume that early childhood leaders and providers have a lot of static.
According to Judy Jablon, author of Powerful Interactions, static is everywhere and affects us all. Static prevents us from being present, which ultimately impacts our leadership skills. Our goal as leaders is to have Powerful Interactions, but when there is static buzzing in our head, the mental distraction can make it difficult to think clearly. So how do we quiet our static? How do we make ourselves present?
Remember that it is alright to press the pause button. Whether it lasts one or five minutes, it’s okay to pause for a moment, quiet the static, and prepare ourselves to interact; doing so will help you to be present. Taking a moment to calm, reflect, or refocus puts you in an open and clear frame of mind, an ideal characteristic of a leader. When you are focused and aware of your feelings, you are able to be more intentional with your actions.
Take time for “me checks.” A me check is taking the time to first pause, and quiet the static, and then asking yourself if you need to adjust yourself to connect with someone and solve the problem at hand. Think about your own personal qualities such as culture, language, conflict resolution style, interests, and how they relate or clash with the situation. Reflect on similar situations. What worked? What didn’t go so well? Will you need to make adjustments to make a positive interaction? When you pay attention to your state of mind and personal qualities, it helps you make more intentional decisions throughout the day.
When the static gets too thick and you feel overwhelmed remember your resources. Communicate your needs to others, verbalize the need to “pause,” and reach out to others for help. There is nothing wrong with delegating to others who are able; empower others to be leaders as well. Seek out support through others who have similar static through communities of practice, networking, and peer reflection. Lastly, don’t forget your friends at the Child Care Resource and Referral. Consultants are on hand for these exact reasons — let us help quiet your static.
“Great leaders don’t blame the tools they are given, they work to sharpen them.” -Simon Sinek
Sharpen your tools, eliminate your static, and keep doing great work.
Looking for a chance to discuss your static with your peers? The next Community of Practice discussion will take place at the Director’s Dialogue on September 17, 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the YWCA, call 815-484-9442 to reserve a spot.