Leadership Lessons

Yesterday morning I set off on a reflective run before catching my flight to Houston for KIPP Summit. I ran alone without music, trying to make sense of what I have learned over the past 14 months at the Summer Principals Academy. Late Sunday night I returned to Los Angeles with a Masters in Educational Leadership from Columbia University. The infamous Summer II was the most academically challenging experience of my life. I have never felt such deep mental and physical exhaustion. As much as I envied those spending their summers on the beach with family and friends, I would not trade the experience. I have grown immensely in my understanding of what it means to be a leader in urban education, and feel a part of a Columbia University army of leaders, setting forth to go and make the world a better place for our students across the country. The 87 cohort members amaze me with their drive, commitment, intellect and reflective nature. Although I have always thought of myself as intense, I was humbled this summer as there were plenty of moments  when I wanted to give up, and felt the task ahead was impossible. My cohort members encouraged me, believed in me and challenged me to be my best. I have learned many lessons from my professors and cohort members, but below are those that resonate with me most.

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  1. Leadership comes in many forms. Often those who have the most to contribute and the strongest ability to unite others under a common vision are not the loudest and most outgoing.
  2. As a leader, ask yourself if your actions are aligning to the legacy you’d like to leave.
  3. It is difficult to measure presence, but visibility is the most important quality of a leader.
  4. You must build a safe holding environment for those you work with so that they feel supported in their personal growth.
  5. There is so much power in closing your eyes and taking a deep single breath. Engage in regular meditative practices.
  6. Change your perspective on facing fears. Although I was terrified, there was something invigorating about getting up on a stage in front of an audience to defend my thesis.
  7. You might not have a favorite teacher until you go to graduate school. I want to be Suzanne when I grow up.
  8. Don’t get so consumed with the day-to-day tasks. Notice the red shoes.
  9. Focus on capitalizing your strengths rather than attempting to overcome your weaknesses.
  10. If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
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Last run in NYC!

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