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Why long distance running is like school leadership


It's been a mental half term, and it's not over.  My stories have decreased, and the amount of stuff I have to write about has backlogged.  I've been busy working with and for the most important people: those in my school.  To say hello again, here are some musings about leadership.  I should add that I see leadership as vital across all levels. If you work in a school, you're a leader. Get over it.
Seeing as I'm attempting to run 50 miles across the Lake District next week, I thought I'd try to link that with school leadership.  I'll let you decide if I've been successful. 

1. No body thinks about the hard work in the background.

Yes, 36 miles the other day was an achievement, but the culmination of running around 100 miles a month for the past two years.  In June, I ran 185 miles in training, including two marathons.  As a leader, it's the background stuff that no body sees that makes the difference. It's the discipline to follow through with a plan.

2. It's all in the mind.

Anything over 16 miles requires a certain mindset.  I'm not a hero, just an ordinary bloke who has decided to consistently and stubbornly stick to a long term plan and set goals that are just out of reach.  Leadership should be like that. It's not about being a hero, but a multiplier and enabler of other people.  We should be aiming for what is just out of reach and intangible.  Do I really think I will cross that finish line after 50 miles? I have no doubt whatsoever.  Do I think that leaders can transform education? Totally. The more I'm involved in school leadership, the more it strikes me that it's not really that complicated.  What is is the ability to believe that it will happen and to convince others along the way.

3. Sacrifices have to be made.

There are far more important things than sticking to my training plan so I wriggle out of it.  There are far more importance things than your school and the people within them. 

4. It's about the plan and taking the first step.

When I first started running, my aim was to complete a 10 mile race. I gave myself 10 months to get ready.  This year, It's a bit further and I run 10 miles two-three times a week.  When I took over Priory Geography, I wanted to improve the results. In my current role I want disadvantaged students to do as well as they can.  It's also about coming up with a long term plan that is focused on the big picture.  The detail can change, but never lose sight of the goal.  Oh, and don't do it for Ofsted.

5. It's also about being adaptable.

And contradictory.  It's about messy leadership and holding ideas lightly - my ideas aren't worth any more than another persons, I just want to use what works to motivate people in order to achieve educational greatness. Simple as that. 

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