Avoiding Celebrity Status

Be honest- do you like it when someone recognizes you when you are "off duty"?  

Some school leaders crave this reality while others are very happy being anonymous.  The surest test is what I call the Grocery Store Metric.  Next time you are at the grocery store, do you like being recognized as the leader of your school or would you prefer to go through the self check-out lane and buy your gallon of milk by yourself?

I know which one I prefer.

This weekend at church I saw Fr. James Martin.  If I hadn't seen his photo in the back of a book or on the Colbert Show late at night, I never would have recognized him.  Jeans, button down shirt, black windbreaker.  

He's a guy who doesn't read his press clippings.  He knows that while he might be recognized at a Catholic Church in New Jersey, a quick trip to the mall will turn up virtually no raving fans.

He knows he's not Justin Timberlake or Lady Gaga.  Just a guy trying to live out his calling as a writer, speaker and priest.

Avoiding celebrity status is vital to staying fresh as a school leader. It accomplishes three simple things:

  • It keeps you grounded in the people you love.  If you're always living for the crowds, you'll have no one to constitute your "inner circle".
  • It allows you to keep working hard, very hard.  Fans make us lazy.  School reminds us to keep working hard on the mission of our kids and our faculty.
  • It enables you to be fully present to the little things.  Being interruptable is only possible when we accept the present (mostly ordinary) moment.

How can you remind yourself to keep working hard and avoid seeking out celebrity status?