In 2012, I was Head of Faculty in a large, thriving Secondary School in London. Today, I’m an Education Consultant living in the heart of the South Downs. You guessed it. Lifestyle and family played a part in this transition, but like all change, it’s not straightforward or always clear. I’d like to share the lessons I’ve learnt in the hope that they might resonate with you.
Although I was fulfilled by aspects of being a classroom teacher and manager, I was frustrated by the lack of time to think. Teaching (if we’re not careful) consumes everything, including the ability to step back, see the big picture and ask deeper questions. It’s important to make time to do this, and investing in some coaching helped me to define my values and purpose more clearly (this doesn’t have to be expensive – see the roster of volunteer coaches here).
Once you have more clarity on your values, decisions become clearer and reasons for dissatisfaction make sense. I realised that my desire to make a change was about being true to values of authenticity, connection and disrupting the status quo. The school where I was working did not give me the opportunities to exercise these core values. No wonder I needed a change.
Think about the best TED or Teachmeet talk you’ve ever seen. Passion is contagious and we can be transported into the flow of someone else’s story if they have the skill to convey it. Learn to do this for yourself (See ‘Talk Like TED’ by Carmine Gallo). Get your idea into 100 words, a vision statement or a vision board. If you can communicate clearly, it’s the best marketing tool in the world.
Starting out on your own is difficult, especially after years of being institutionalised by bells, scheduled meetings and performance management. Developing and nurturing a PLN (Personal Learning Network) can be transformational. A good start is to get in touch with everyone you’ve ever worked with and tell them what you’re up to. They will be pleased to hear from you and may have connections which open doors. Say yes more than no – give talks, write articles, speak on podcasts and be bold. Opportunities come from a PLN but also support, encouragement and constructive feedback.
I can’t start until I have a website. The logo’s not ready yet. I haven’t finished the copy. I’ve no ideas how to start a business! There are hundreds of excuses for not starting. Change wakes up that voice known as your ‘inner critic,’ ‘chimp’ or ‘gremlin.’ There are effective strategies for diminishing this presence, but for now – know that this voice is not you. The voice which fluently expresses your vision and values is you. Turn up the volume and just start.
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