You Can Get Off the Treadmill of ‘Overwhelm’

Are you ‘stuck’ on the treadmill of overwhelm?  

You can get off.  Let’s explore.

System-level overwhelm is real.

This week, I spoke with one Principal (11 years) who has 800 students and a team of over 75, she doesn’t have an Assistant Principal and it’s not on the horizon.  She will be chairing 35 IEP meetings over the next month.  Another Principal I know is leading two schools and commuting between them.  She messaged last week to share that she is just crawling to Spring Break.Finally, urban school leaders, those who are leading communities ravaged by poverty and systemic racism, are overwhelmed by system-level factors.  

System-level overwhelm is real.  Change is possible.  You have to decide how you will be involved in this process.

Human need is endless, whether you have 20 students or 2000.  

It will never end.  The work.  The need.  The possibility.  Indeed, if we are in a public school or charter, serving in rural and remote, suburban, or urban, or we have a well-resourced school or one with barely enough to scrape by, whether our facility is pristine or crumbling…Human need is endless.It’s the work we chose.  It is a privilege to serve.So, how are we going to manage it?  This is a ‘priorities’ and ‘boundaries’ issue.  

Sometimes we hide behind ‘busy’ to protect ourselves from ‘stuck.’

Who wants to admit we’re stuck?!I know powerful and capable educators who run around ‘looking’ busy because it is easier than being strategic.  

  • Strategic is accountable.  Busy is victimized.
  • Reflection takes equanimity.  Overwhelm is addictive and the path of least resistance.
  • Deep work takes focus.  Our entire society and culture are stealing our attention.
  • Leadership is risky and includes messiness.  Busy is difficult to address on an evaluation.

How will you get unstuck and deliver?

Photo by José M. Reyes on Unsplash

The Solution Begins with Reflection

All of us must inquire about our overwhelm…Here are a handful of reflection questions:

  1. What boundaries do I need to have in place to address my overwhelm?  How will I communicate these boundaries?
  2. As a leader, what strategic priorities will help my school community move forward?
  3. What is standing in the way of executing these priorities?  How will I get unstuck?

I am certain, the only way to get off the ‘treadmill’ of overwhelm is to reflect on our experiences.  Reflecting regularly will propel our leadership forward exponentially.

Championing potential,