The Balance Between Stepping Back and Stepping Up

I am privileged to work with some truly amazing people.  Some are in the education field for decades and still come to work with a desire to impact lives.  Others are fairly new to schooling and face the challenges of trying to make their mark.

Making a mark sounds easy but it's not.

The Glory of God is a Human Being, Fully Alive.  St. Iraneous

There are at least three things that hold young leaders back from their desire to step up:


  1. The system.  Education, like many fields, isn't great at innovating for the next generation.
  2. Lack of recognition.  Sad that you have to be "in the field" for 30 years before your first award.
  3. Negative voices.  You know them and they absolutely repel young leaders.



With this said, the great ones are those who can not only recognize the speedbumps but go through them.  We celebrate these folks in America- the Steve Jobs types who overcame something in order to do something big, really big.  I was in a meeting with a man this week who literally worked himself into success- he had grown up with very little and painted houses each summer until he could jump into a better job.  Wicked good story.

But what if you can't step up?  What if the obstacles are just too strong?  You can remember your mom telling you to "offer it up" and I guess that's good advice.  My mom never told me that but I hear of other Catholics who received similar gems from their parents.  

Or, you can learn to be more humble, even if it's just a few hours sort of thing like Stephen Martin has done.

Lastly, you can just let it go. Step back from the moment and let things happen- this may be your greatest moment of patience, humility and sacrifice.  All three qualities are those that leaders aspire to practice.  Let's be honest when we say that your workplace shapes your identity.  Each day, with each interaction, you become more fully who you are.  If your leadership is built on ambition then that's ok.  On the other hand, if it's comprised of patient waiting for the right moment then that may be even better.  There is a real mystery here between push and pull.

The key is to know when to step back and when to step up.  Both have value.

*photo courtesy of AMDG