Doing the right thing

I wish I always knew for certain what “the right thing to do” was. Or at least 95% certain. I wish I didn’t feel like I ought to be certain, and I wish I didn’t give myself a hard time for my uncertainty.

I have been a school principal, lead learner, instructional leader, and even mentor for three years now, and all I am certain about is that my idea of what is “the right thing to do” is continuously evolving. I always have as a foundation some things I know are “right” – things that shape the core of my beliefs and principles about children and the other human beings with whom I work and serve. But along comes a situation different in details, or context,or scope from anything in my experience, and I find myself struggling at times to know what the right thing to do is. I know I’m not alone but it’s not something people in roles of leadership talk a lot about.

I know that uncertainty is a characteristic of learners. Not being sure leads to questioning, testing, observing, evaluating. Learners accept mistakes part of the process. Can I accept making mistakes in my work, accepting my responsibility to repair and learn from them? Can I accept showing my uncertaintty to others? Can others have the patience to allow me to learn through my uncertainty?

20121205-194236.jpg“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
Anne Lamott

This quote from author Ann Lamott gave me some inspiration. I didn’t know much about Lamott until I read this article about her changing relationship with her teenaged son. It reminded me of the questioning, painful, and tumultuous uncertainty that comes with being human, with caring for others, and for wanting to do the right thing.