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Thinking differently about school leadership

Pilates for the mind. I’d never thought of what I do as some kind of mind stretching exercise until my hairdresser called it that as she snipped away at my hair the other day.

I’d been paying my usual six weekly visit to get my haircut and we were discussing my latest trip to Brunei, where I work with the School Principals there. I described what I did, and how the programme evolved over the week, and how I challenge the participants to think in different ways, different directions. Chunking up to strategic thinking, drilling down to specific and detailed, going sideways to develop lateral and metaphorical thinking and all the other branches of Blooms taxonomy in between. And I described how the participants blossomed. By the end of the week, I guarantee them to be taller, I told her. Their posture will straighten as they gain in confidence and self-belief, discovering what they can do when they start to think in different ways.

“It’s like Pilates for the mind” she said, and I suppose it is. The leadership development I deliver helps to exercise the mind, stretching it, allowing it to create, expand, unfurl and grow straight and tall, the way it was growing before school, life, work and everything else got in the way and scrunched it up, along with self-belief.

Last week I heard the “Ah ha” moments, I saw the faces shine, I felt the growth in the room when the leaders realised that by thinking differently about things they could discover how much they could do, what else they were capable of. I saw their potential and they felt it. Leading the self, themselves, is the exercise of Pilates of the mind, and it’s just like every other exercise, the more we do it, the more we practice, the better we get at it, the more competent and confident we become.

My friend Carol, who is a chemistry teacher in Scotland, recently commented on one of my photos from Brunei. She said, “You look 6ft tall in that picture’, and I replied without thinking, “When I’m in Brunei working with the school Principals I feel six foot tall”.

Maybe I’m getting taller too.

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