Pursuit of Happiness

The following is my response to a post written by Dr. Troy P. Roddy entitled, “Happiness and the school administrator”.  The article was written in a way that caused my own personal reflection after spending the last three years as a Junior High Principal.

It’s a pretty interesting thought process: Am I happy as an administrator?  Is it “true” happiness?  Is it “synthetic” or manufactured happiness?  Am I simply content in my job?  As Dr. Roddy questioned, “Do administrators, essentially, inadvertently replace happiness with another emotion, like maybe satisfaction?”  I would absolutely, without a doubt like to answer in the affirmative, “YES, I am happy as an administrator!”…next question.  I reflect that true leadership can be void of happiness.  True leadership is completely selfless, giving, striving for the success of others, exhausting, and stressful.  As a school administrator, does the budget process make me happy?  Does the continual process of having to let people go make me happy?  Do unsupportive, complaining parents make me happy?  How about discipline?  For those in the private sector, how about declining enrollment?  What about the fact that being an administrator is a very lonely position to be in.  As with all things in life, there are two sides to every story, right?  Name one job/career where the individual is completely happy, all the time?  Not even employees at Disneyland can claim this.

In the movie, Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith plays a down-and-out father struggling to make a living for his family.  The never quit attitude is what shines in this movie.  If there is one word that defines the outcome in the pursuit of his dream, it would be DESPITEDespite the obstacles he faced, he continued to move forward.  Despite the rejection he faced, he pressed on.  Despite his wife losing faith in him, he fought for a good life with his son.  Despite not having money to pay rent, he found the motivation to reach for his dream.  Despite it all, he found HIS happiness: Pursuit of Happyness

As a school administrator, being in leadership means that despite all of the aforementioned problems, distractions, and frustrations, a school administrator presses on to find his or her happiness in what they do.  To all school administrators, if you can not reflect and find true happiness in what you do, find a different career.  How can one continue as an educator if the result of all you do is manufactured happiness?  Those that read my blog understand that I am a Christian, and am not shy about sharing my faith.  My faith in Jesus Christ in all ways defines who I am and what I do.  Therefore, in Christ, I am happy.

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!  Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!  There is no want to those who fear Him.” (Psalm 34:8-9, NKJV)

My ultimate salvation rests in the fact that Christ died to set me free from the bondage of sin.  Yes, constant self-pity and woeful frustration as an administrator is sin.  Why live in a state of constant dis-repair?  Are there many things that can drive you batty as a school leader?  Yes there are.  Are there also just as many, if not more things (and might I mention, people) that make you truly happy to be in the position you’re in?  I submit that there are!  It is 100% up to the individual to decide whether or not they are going to be happy and find happiness in what they do!  It is a constant pursuit.  You’ll never find “nirvana” in school leadership.  In like fashion to my post, It’s an uphill climb, being a school administrator is a constant “climb” towards your goals or standards for which you are striving.  Each goal or standard achieved needs to be viewed as a mini-victory, which should ultimately bring you true happiness.  Did your school’s test scores improve?  Have you seen improvement in your new teachers?  Did you get “that one student” to genuinely smile today?  Were you able to collectively resolve conflict with those parents you’ve been struggling with?  Do you mentally store those notes of encouragement and compliments you receive through out the school year?  Were you able to successfully collaborate with “that teacher” who just wouldn’t buy in?  Plain and simple, short and sweet…those are VICTORIES.  And victories should make you happy, period.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)

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