When I worked in Baltimore, we wanted to be like the fancier school down the street. When I was in New Hampshire, we wondered what the other school was doing related to marketing and advertising. In Jersey, our small Catholic school tried to emulate a larger one the next town over.
School leaders go for this kind of thing- it makes us feel like we are Sam Walton who legendarily would spend time in rival department stores. Today school administrators routinely browse the websites of their competitors. After all, you might pick up a few things that you can steal, ahem, borrow.
And now... we are trying to just be ourselves. My school spent years trying to be someone else. The bigger school. The trendier school. The more monied school. Then, we began working on being "ok" with ourselves. After all, if we were honest with ourselves, our school was pretty darn good. Make that great. And it still is.
This is one of the biggest insights that school leaders need to have. Forget what the next guy is doing and work harder than the next guy at being yourself. It's not about being complacent or forgetting your competitive edge. It's about being honest with what makes your school truly special.
Competition has a shelf life. To always be longing for "what the next guy has" is exhausting. Better to stick with what you know best, do it consistently and toot your own horn.
Forget about the next guy- be yourself and be it with humility and confidence.