It was 2009, and I was about three quarters of the way through my first year as an assistant principal, when I received a letter from the district saying that the funding for my position had been cut and and I was going to be placed back in a teaching position at the start of the next school year. At the very bottom of the letter was a line that said something to the effect of, “If you do not agree with this decision, you can request a meeting to present your case.”
After I showed my principal the letter, he urged me NOT to request a meeting, and that things would turn out okay in the end.
My mind raced with things like,
The hell with that. This is completely unfair. Two years ago when they closed schools, they moved all those assistant principals to new schools. Why not me? This is bullshit. I am not getting demoted because they have budget issues. Not going to happen.
I requested the meeting, dragging along my principal, the other assistant principal from my school, and the regional director of our school. I stood up and fought for myself and my position. In the end, I was assured that I would have an assistant principal position the following school year, but they didn’t know where.
YES! I DID IT!
My celebratory dance took a turn for the worse, when, later that summer, the human resources manager called to tell me that I was being placed WITH HER. The woman with the bad reputation. The woman who my colleague had worked for for 8 weeks before going on medical leave for stress. The woman whom I knew was a bitch.
I had put all this energy into fighting for my position, only to find myself in an even more difficult position.
I clearly had a lesson to learn.
There is a difference between fighting for WHAT IS RIGHT and fighting TO BE RIGHT. One comes from deep within us--our values, and the other comes from our ego.
All the fighting that I was doing to keep my job, and all the fighting that I kept doing when I worked for my not-so-great-boss, was all centered around BEING RIGHT.
It had nothing to do with the children that I had pledged to help educate. It had nothing to do with my bigger purpose. It had everything to do with my own sense of self-worth and self-preservation. I didn’t want to be demoted because what would that mean about me. I didn’t want to be back in the classroom after working so hard to take the next step because that would mean that I was a failure.
It had nothing to do with what was “right,” and everything to do with BEING right. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it at the time, and I continued fighting to be right, which eventually cost me my job.
If you are stuck in a fight yourselves, do you know what, exactly, you are fighting for?
P.S. We are talking about this issue over in the Emerge Book Circle, if you want to come join us.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.