Written By Guest Blogger: Dr. Wakea Brown
As an Elementary School Principal, there is no way to survive the demands of each day without intentionally taking care of yourself. I had to learn this. Even after learning the importance of self-care, I had to force myself to simply take the time to care for me. My focus has always been on caring for those who serve with me, my faculty and staff, as well as putting emphasis on making sure my students, parents, and my community are better than good. Then leaves any care that I provide/focus on for me somewhere on “the back burner” …the place where leaders find other leaders on a sure path to physical and emotional destruction. I am a wife and I am a mother FIRST, after the time I dedicate to God. So once again, this would definitely push any time for me way back or at the end of the symbolic serving line.
There is a quote by John Maxwell that says, “The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” This quote is the truth, as I had to change my attitude or loss my peace of mind and give away lump sums of time that I could never get back. As the years progress for me and my role as a building leader, I have come to the realization that if I don’t love me first, it is impossible for me to fully love others. I understand the importance of demonstrating self-love and self-care, because no one, including me…can pour from an empty cup. I have to be a full, healthy willing vessel in order to support others at the level that will be beneficial to them. And by intentionally making sure my personal and professional lives are balanced, I am able to proactively eliminate any feelings of bitterness, anxiety, or trepidation which will build up over time like a filmy residue that abides in the heart. And you surely don’t want that! As we know, shaping school culture is vitally important, but you have to start with your heart. This comes before assembling teams and making any plans…so your heart has to be healthy, this makes it where you are ready for the work at hand! So, the plan is for me to thrive, not just survive in leadership and in my personal life. I have always loved what I do as a Principal, but I truly love how the adjustments I made with how I do things related to my position have truly made it even better.
So, my message or my clarion call to all leaders would be to love yourself FIRST, so you are able to love others. Self-love is an action not a state of feeling good. Self-love is one of key ingredients to living a wonderful life with balance. It influences the image you project at work, how you treat people, and how you deal with the various situations in your life.
“I have come to notice that once the team(s) you lead know you care about them and their well-being, they will do what it takes to ensure the team (family) is better than good, they will be “all-in!” And as a leader, I am a firm a believer, that is just what family does.”Dr. Wakea Brown
Self-love and self-care are one in the same. Self-care just means that you are willing to revamp your way of life and your way of thinking to take care of YOU! Self-care is how we react or what we do to our physical, emotional, relational, professional, personal, and spiritual well-being that reflects the way we take care of ourselves on the most essential levels. As leader, I am an exemplar and a role model, so it is important that I behave like one, even in how I care for myself. Being sick or ill all the time due to a lack of self-care is not a good look. I am one who believes in being at work and having an exemplary attendance record (as leaders we tend to burn the midnight oil coming in early and staying late, weekends, etc.), but I am a proponent of teachers and staff members taking “mental health” days when needed. I encourage it. I have come to notice that once the team(s) you lead know you care about them and their well-being, they will do what it takes to ensure the team (family) is better than good, they will be “all-in!” And as a leader, I am a firm a believer, that is just what family does.
As I reflect on the changes I have made (realizing I am still a work in progress), to my schedule, taking time to partake in what makes me happy, whether with loved ones or alone, and not being afraid to say, “no” without feeling selfish or guilty- for saying, “no” can equal a “yes” in terms of adding on to my longevity; time spent rejuvenating myself is so refreshing. When I am intentional about gifting myself with the self-care I deserve, everyone around me benefits. I am diligently working to place myself at the top of my, “to-do” list, fully knowing everything else will fall into place accordingly.
Dr. Wakea N. Brown
Dr. Wakea Brown is an elementary principal in Clayton County Public Schools. Dr. Brown has served as a District Coordinator of Performance Management and Assistant Principal among other district roles. As a consultant in various schools and school systems, Dr. Brown has conducted workshops and staff development sessions in the areas of classroom management, Differentiated Instruction, Assessment, Cultural Diversity, Critical Thinking, Time Management, Leadership Training, and Effective Communication, etc. Dr. Brown’s most notable accomplishment is being the wife of Mr. Keith L. Brown “Mr. I’Mpossible ”, empowerment coach, educational consultant, motivational speaker and mother to one sensational son, Keon Brown, Graduate of Savannah State University.