A colleague told me this truth a few years ago and it changed how I think about the work of being a leader.
When you consider the quality of a relationship being the aggregated contents and feelings of all the conversations and interactions you have—how you show up for class, meetings, your marriage, and your life—each hour and each day seems more important. Positive conversations build relationships. Strong relationships are more real, and let us all get down to our work and learning with more security and purpose.
Who do you need to talk to today?
If I completed high school a more confident person than I was when I started, it is despite the institution I attended, not because of it. This stands in stark contrast to the narratives I hear from Darrow alumni. No longer am I surprised by their stories about how this School was largely responsible for making them the confident professionals/parents/spouses they are now. After all, it is our mission… literally. Our mission statement ends with the phrase, “inspiring enduring confidence.”
So, how does that happen? Here’s our recipe:
- Know your students exceedingly well. Know them by seeing them play sports after school, and by eating meals with them, and connecting in as many dimensions of their lives as possible. This is the sine qua non for confidence building, something at which small schools excel.
- Once the students know that you know them, “catch” them doing something right and/or doing it well.
- Let them know you’ve seen them doing that thing, and celebrate the accomplishment, either in public or private.
- Now raise the bar a hair and repeat. Voila! Enduring confidence.
Of course, overconfidence brings its own dangers—small and large—and is fraught with as many pitfalls as under-confidence. But a lack of confidence can be the silent killer to fulfillment and to simply enjoying life. It can lead people into making bad choices regarding friends, jobs, or spouses.
As educators there are so many moments and methods in which we can help students learn the difference, and there are also lots of ways to adapt this recipe.
Darrow does this every day. About that I’m confident.