I recently came across this excellent commencement address given by Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com fame. Bezos describes the difficult decision he had to make when he conceived of an online book store: give up a secure position at a financial firm or take a huge risk and try to start a company from scratch. You know the answer Bezos came to for himself.
Deciding to become a head of school is no less risky. Becoming a head of school means giving up a fair measure of security. The board might love you on Friday, but things could be very different on Monday. Becoming a head of school means taking sides of issues. You will not be able to straddle a fence for very long, and if you do manage to straddle that fence, people will think you are indecisive - not a good posture for a leader. Becoming a head of school means making unpopular decisions and doing unpleasant things. When your school needs to cut back on personnel, who do you think has those conversations? You can't delegate that difficult work. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Click the link below to read the entire speech:
Jeff Bezos Graduation Speech/Princeton May 30, 2010
If you don't want to read the whole speech (but I think you really should!), at least take a look at these questions Bezos poses to the graduates...these are excellent questions for aspiring leaders:
"How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?
Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?
Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
Will you bluff it out when you're wrong, or will you apologize?
Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?
Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?
When it's tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?
Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?"