In response to the post, “Advice for the First Year Principal – Part 10,” a tenured LYS Principal writes: Boris Yeltsin said, “You can make a throne out of bayonets, but you can’t sit on if for long.” It is a matter of balance, and the nuance of effective leadership often lies in the balance. A rookie AP once brought me a theoretical problem that had little chance of occurring. I told the AP we weren’t going to spend a lot of time worrying about a problem that probably would not happen and I quoted Mark Twain, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” But to let the AP know that I appreciated the fact that she was thinking about possible contingencies, I pointed out that the British SAS say, “Chance favors the prepared,” an adaptation from Louis Pasteur. The nuance of leadership lies in the gray area of not worrying about little stuff, and knowing what is not little stuff and needs to be prepared for. Mess this process up, and well, read about Napoleon. SC Response Your theoretical problem anecdote reminded me of some of the endless conversations I had with more than a few Assistant Superintendents when I was working for the state. You would have a campus in crisis; the Commissioner, the Superintendent, and the Principal would want the situation fixed as soon as possible, yet the person who controlled the greatest level of resources and support for the campus would be paralyzed playing the “What if” game. What if it doesn’t work, what if people are unhappy, what if there is a better answer that will show up tomorrow? The answer, of course, is the 80% solution executed at full speed with the expectation that you will adapt on the fly. Simply identify the problem and the desired outcome and start working. The amazing thing is that forward progress solves the majority of both the little things and the big things. The happy by-product of this forward motion is the experience you gain solving problems that most educators do not exist, because their inaction means that they never see what is beyond their horizon. And with this experience edge comes more confidence and increased opportunity. Which is why I remind leaders that if you and your staff are not pushing the envelope, then you risk quickly becoming obsolete. Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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