During a student interview this past spring, I was asked, "What do you think is your strongest leadership trait?"; without hesitation, I responded, "Enthusiasm."
I need to go back much farther, though. It was early in my teaching career (I can't remember which year, but it pre-Career status) and we were in the middle of a very trying school year. We had changed principals during the year, lost some other key staff during the transition, and staff morale seemed to be quickly declining. In addition, our beloved Mathematics Department Chair was moving out-of-state, due to her husband's job transfer.
My assistant principal asked me to step in as interim Department Chair and I agreed, basically as a favor to him. His selling point was telling me, "Craig, we need your leadership, your energy, and your enthusiasm."
I took this to heart, and I made sure to remain genuinely enthusiastic for the remainder of the year. At the end of the year, my new principal called me into her office and shared something that has stayed with me ever since. She said, "Craig, never lose your enthusiasm. It's so important to the school."
I was fortunate to realize this early on in my career. The message delivered by both my principal and assistant principal became a foundation for my personality in the classroom and on the court. Frequently, I would hear my students and athletes say, "He's always pumped up and excited." As I began my administrative career in leadership roles, I have made a point to continue this high-level of enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm is a character trait in which you have complete control. You make the cognitive decision to be enthusiastic or not, and you also have the ability to demonstrate genuine enthusiasm. Therefore, you also make the decision to lack enthusiasm. The choice is yours.
To restate what my Principal told me, "Never lose your enthusiasm."; I would be removed if I didn't include my all-time favorite, by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
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The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.