Here at Trinity, we’ve been talking a lot lately about what it means to be a leader. As a leader, it can sometimes mean more power and prestige but it can also mean sacrifice and challenges. Every good leader has great responsibilities. It’s hard to be leader but it’s a great choice to strive to be one.
I had a friend once tell me a story about what being a leader meant to her. As a high school student she was selected to go to a leadership conference. At the conference one of the presenters asked the question, “What do you do when you go into a public bathroom with many stalls and in the first stall you enter you find that the person before you didn’t flush? Do you flush the toilet or do you find another stall?”. After letting the students mull it over for a while, the present said, “Leaders flush toilets.” I can’t go into a public restroom to this day and not flush a toilet that has been left without a flush.
My friend never went into detail of how the presenter explained why leaders flush toilets but it was pretty obvious to me. When we flush the toilet that someone else left without flushing, we are making the restroom a better place for the next person despite the actions of the person that used that bathroom before us. That is what a leader does; a leader makes the world a better place for the next person despite the actions of the others.
Teachers by definition are in a leadership type role. Teachers give knowledge to students in the hopes of making their lives and the lives of other better. Teachers work with students to help them learn despite many different challenges the student might be facing. But every day teachers have the option to be true leaders go the extra mile for the students (flush the toilet) or just do what’s required to get through the day (find another stall).
Being a true leader is hard. To be a true leader you need to adopt an attitude of selflessness. You may never see the person that reaps the benefit of your actions and they may never even know what kindness you had bestowed on them (this is sure to happen in our toilet scenario). I do believe that setting a good example and acting like a leader does rub off. We are all familiar with the phrase, “Pay it forward.” and I’d like to think that people honor that. Random acts of kindness do influence people to perform one themselves. And I’m fairly certain that quite a few of you after having read this will be flushing toilets.
When you go back into your classroom this fall, be a true leader. Lead your students and lead your fellow teachers. Practice good teaching techniques and never give up on your students. Be a mentor to that new teacher a few doors down. Work with your principal or staff development teacher to find professional development opportunities (like our courses through Trinity’s Office of Continuing Education). Last summer, I challenged you to tackle your fear of technology as you started the 2012 school year. This yeah, I challenge you to be a good example of what it means to make the world a better place for the next person.