How are your roots?
No, not the hidden grays underneath the beautiful coat of black, blonde, or auburn hair dye - I’m referring to YOUR roots - your personal foundation. Your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual roots. Much like the root system of a tree which performs many vital functions for the life of a tree, your roots are essential to who you are. The roots system of a tree does things such as store essential reserves needed for the production of spring foliage. They absorb the required nutrients and ensure they are available as needed throughout the entire system of the tree. Most importantly, the roots of a tree serve as an anchor as the tree grows and blooms above ground. As you can imagine, the roots of a tree must be strong in order to provide the necessary support to weather strong storms.
So I ask again… How are YOUR roots?
How are you storing essential reserves needed to weather challenging times such as these? In this very different time in education, school leaders are facing what is likely one of the most challenging years of their careers. The people they serve - teachers, support staff, students, and families - are reaching unprecedented levels of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. The weight of supporting others through this time while aiming to keep student learning at the forefront is not for the faint of heart. School leaders are fighting against their own anxieties in an effort to remain strong for their teams. Is this sustainable?
I ask you again… How are your roots?
Even the largest oak tree can be uprooted due to weakened or injured root systems. Changes in soil depth, imbalance in watering, improper fertilization or the use of the wrong type of subsoil can damage the root system. Over watering can restrict oxygen uptake while underwatering doesn’t support proper root development. What does that mean for your roots? If you are not careful, the toxic implications of overworking and under nurturing of oneself can weaken and even crush your root system.
School leaders must embrace a holistic and consistent approach to their own wellness. This requires an integration of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Your wellness is a personal and professional responsibility. It is not a “when I get a minute to squeeze it in” thing. It is ensuring a balanced self-renewal approach in the four areas of your life - physical, social-emotional, mental, and spiritual health. We must lead by example and model the importance of well-being for those we serve. This does not mean underperforming in your role. Rather it means, taking care of yourself so that you CAN perform to the best of your ability. It means shifting your mindset from a “machine” mindset (one who doesn’t rest) to a “human-first” mindset (one who honors and respects the human need for well-being). As the late Dr. Stephen Covey posits, “We must never become too busy sawing to take time to sharpen the saw.” When you consistently nourish your roots, you naturally increase your capacity to handle challenges and thrive. “Without this renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit insensitive, and the person selfish (Covey, 2004).”
The diagram below includes a few examples of how you can intentionally and consistently nurture your roots so that you can continue to lead with excellence and grace. You can also check out the monthly Daily Dose of Oxygen calendars posted in the resource section of this website. You are worth it!
Hungry for more? Invest in a personal coach. A Life-fit Edleader coach can help you breakthrough the obstacles and cycles holding you back from making your in your personal well-being a priority. Check out the coaching section of the site.
Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic ([Rev. ed.].). New York: Free Press.