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Behaviors You Should Try to Avoid Every Day

By John Almond - July 11, 2013

(Fourth in a series)

In my previous article, I shared a few thoughts on specific behaviors to avoid during your workday. Some of those behaviors not only damage your productivity, they can also be harmful to your personal well being. While being a public school administrator is an extremely demanding and stressful job, you certainly don’t want to make matters worse!

Here are a few additional behaviors that you may also want to put on your “not to-do” list:

  1. Don’t allow yourself to be constantly distracted or interrupted while you are working on a specific task. You don’t need to know the instant you get an email, text message, or anything else that pops up on your phone or computer. While you are working on a specific task, try to remember that, if something is important enough for you to do, it is important enough for you to do it without needless interruptions. Make every effort to focus on what you are doing, and then, on a schedule that you set, check messages and converse with staff about other items, issues, or concerns which will require your attention. Make note of such issues, but then re-focus on what you are doing.
  2. Don’t let the past dictate the future. While we all regret making mistakes, we also know that sometimes mistakes can prove valuable in that we learn from them. At that point, however, we need to let them go, and move forward. I know that moving forward is easier said than done because it all depends on your perspective. When something goes wrong, try to turn it into an opportunity to learn something that you didn’t know, especially about yourself. When something goes wrong for someone else, try to turn it into an opportunity to be gracious and understanding. Since we all make mistakes, try to view the past as just training. The past should prove helpful and informative, but, at the same time, it should not define you unless you let it.
  3. Don’t wait forever before trying something new. You can never feel absolutely certain that you will succeed at something new, but you certainly can be committed to giving something your very best effort. In addition, if your new venture is not successful, you can always re-group and try again. Not everything we try will be successful, but there is some value in that old expression: “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
  4. Don’t talk behind someone’s back. If you have something to say to someone, then go to that someone and say it. Talking about someone to another individual can make you appear to be nothing more than a gossip. In addition, I have never seen someone look better by maligning someone else. We all stand on our own merit, and, as a leader, you want to spend your time on productive conversations. You will certainly get a lot more done, and you will also earn greater respect.
  5. Don’t say yes when you really mean no. Refusing a request from a colleague or even a friend can be very hard, but rarely does saying no go as badly as you expect. Most people will understand. When you say no, at least you will only feel badly for a few minutes. When you say yes to something that you really don’t want to do, you might feel bad for a long time, or at least as long as it takes you to do what you didn’t want to do in the first place.

All of us have been guilty of one or more of these behaviors at one time or another because we are human and make mistakes. If you want to become a more effective leader and team builder, however, you may want to give some thought to your not to-do list.

  1. (To read part one of this series, click here.)
  2. (To read part two of this series, click here.)
  3. (To read part three of this series, click here.)

Editor's Note:  John Almond is a Senior Advisor with the educational consulting firm Total School Solutions (TSS).