“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Hall of Fame baseball player Reggie Jackson was known for his big home runs and his big ego. He had tremendous success, but like the rest of us, he had bad days, too. As a leader, he had people that criticized the way he did things, but Jackson had a famous saying, “Fans don’t boo nobodies!” He claimed he used that to remind himself that he was a great player and to block out the critics.
Now, we may not all have the same attitude as Reggie Jackson, but most leaders, principals included, did not achieve the level of success they have had without a certain amount of pride and belief in themselves. As a leader, your school community wants and needs you to exude a certain amount of confidence and determination about the decisions you make and the direction of the school. That does not mean they are going to always agree with every decision you make, but no one wants to follow a person that is indecisive or unsure of themselves.
Critics are everywhere. Staff, parents, district office, even students will all challenge you at times. Oftentimes they have the benefit of hindsight when something does not go well, and a scapegoat is needed. In times like these, you need to remember that “fans don’t boo nobodies.” When you accepted the role, it was not to win popularity contests, was it? Probably not. Instead of worrying about the critics or what others might say, you must always make decisions that are consistent with your values, do your best to rely on the information you have at the time, and at the end of the day, you need to be able to sleep at night knowing you did the very best you could have and let the rest of it take care of itself. Your number one job is to help students and teachers with their growth and development.
There will be tough days in this job. You will make mistakes. You will be criticized. Do not let those days define you. Stand up to the critics with self-assurance and confidently remind yourself that you are the best person for the job. If it helps, quietly whisper to yourself, “Fans don’t boo nobodies!”