“You need to be more responsible.”
“Take responsibility for your actions.”
“Who’s responsible for this?”
“That’s not my responsibility.”
These words and others get thrown around a lot. We want students to be responsible. We want our own kids, spouses, friends to be responsible. Being responsible seems like a good thing. But can an individual take too much responsibility? Can too much from one person get in the way of helping others to be responsible?
As a school principal I know I am ultimately responsible for my school. I take my responsibilities seriously and I believe that the students, staff and parents know that through my actions. At times I know I unwittingly take on other people’s responsibilities because I think I need to in order for something to get done, or to get done how I want it done. I’m working on learning how to step back and show my trust in people, allowing them to learn by experience, by taking responsibility for their own successes, mistakes and failures. Most days I am really proud of what my sense of responsibility has been able to achieve in creating a positive school culture, strong relationships, and forward momentum. Other days I’m frustrated by some responsibilities that seem to get in the way of achieving these things.
When a lot of those days come along, I admit that I feel tired of holding up my responsibility, and have a hard time balancing my professional life with my personal life. It’s easy for me to tell others to shut the door, turn off the phone, leave it at the office, but harder to do for myself. I know the world wouldn’t end if I let something go, but I don’t like letting things go. Letting the wrong thing go can have serious repercussions. I feel too responsible.
How does a person find that magical balance, where the sense of responsibility and dedication (or passion, commitment, insert quality here…) is also tempered by the knowledge that no one person can do everything, or fix everything? Patience, trust, quiet courage….these are things I am working on learning as I gain my own experience and make my own mistakes.
I hope with experience, both my own and shared with my colleagues, I’ll find that balance. To know and uphold my responsibilities, to recognize others’ responsibilities and help them to accept and meet them, and to make sure I’m responsible for my own well-being.