Meetings, phone calls, emails, and planning…Build Character?

How do you know you are making a difference when your day is full or meetings, phone calls, emails, and planning? As a central office administrator in a large urban public school system, it is very easy to simply get lost in meetings and emails. Today is only Tuesday, but it feels like I have already experienced a week’s worth of administrative work. I’m not complaining about the work, in fact I enjoy what I do and look forward to the daily challenges. In my mind there is nothing better than being in a position to take a dilemma head on, meet with decision makers, and then develop strategic plans to address real world challenges. Ok, I admit this may be my inner education nerd coming out, but it can be invigorating work.

Now, back to my lead question: How do you know you are making a difference when your day is full of meetings, phone calls, emails, and planning? I reflected on this question today and I still don’t have an well tested response. At some point this evening I started to wondered if it even matters, if I even needed to have an answer. Is it necessary to feel like you are making a difference everyday? After all, life is full of challenges and surprises that could bump you off of your daily agenda. Well I think it does matter and I believe we should be able to know that we are making a difference everyday. To make that determination requires an open mind. What I mean by open mind is pay attention to the subtle details. These details could include a variety of things such as:

  1. The quality of interactions with your boss, peers, and subordinates
  2. The speed in which you respond to requests for support
  3. How far ahead you are in your calendar planning
  4. Moving projects forward by committing to the taking the next action
  5. Your ability to keep your word on time commitments and deadlines
  6. Your ability to eliminate distractions or stay focused

Each of these and many more details could serve as indicators of how much of a difference you are making daily. How well we are performing in details like these everyday help us develop stronger character and increase our readiness to take on more challenges. These indicators are also easy to overlook when the day gets crazy. It is common to only focus on how disconnected you feel when you are busy with administrative work. Now it is true that being an administrator means you are no longer at the direct action level of education with students, but it doesn’t mean that you have to be irrelevant. As a result, I am going to do my best moving forward to keep an open mind and pay attention to how I am doing in areas like these daily.