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It’s all about the ‘Humanness’!

Well, what a first quarter we’ve had for 2024!

I and many around me have been exposed to some of the big things that happen in life… health scares, accidents, the loss of loved ones… It certainly forces you to pause and take stock.

And then there are the moments that school leaders and teachers experience every single day – some in their control and many others that are not.

Recently, my colleagues have written about finding the orange light moments and tilting the earth to try to turn them into green light moments; the need to keep the main thing the main thing; the need to find the glimmers in our work and to really lean into the transformational power of restorative practices.

In every one of those moments I have been acutely aware of the systems and protocols that are at play for those of you in schools… processes to be streamlined, risk assessments to be considered, guidelines to be followed, paperwork and compliance matters to be documented and check boxes to be ticked. I’ve observed the operational responses on a grand scale and worked with many to navigate the finer details.

Like many school leaders, I consider myself pretty good at compartmentalising the various things that life throws at us, but sometimes those compartments merge and an epiphany moment comes… a moment when personal life encroaches on work life, when family life feels the tension of external pressures, when operational matters pull us away from the core business, when the lines between those compartments seem to blur a little and the cognitive and sensory overload becomes more noticeable.

I’ve had a few moments where I’ve realised that I had no stored responses to manage my reactions, and others where I needed to pull on stored responses in situations that I hoped to never experience again.

My big moment of realisation came last week and it wasn’t in the toughest moment of the quarter – it was one of the simplest, when I leaned into quality family time to recharge with a good old movie night!

‘Sully’ was the movie of choice and if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth the time – but it was the one hour and fourteen minute mark that captured me!

I didn’t learn a new message; I had something I often say out loud completely reinforced. In the face of a full review of the actions taken by Sully and his team when he landed his passenger jet on the Hudson River we hear him say, “You have taken the humanness out of the equation.”

I had to watch this three minutes more than once!

Whether you are flying a plane, responding in an emergency situation, answering calls in a call centre, selling a product or service, supporting the learning of others, or navigating life and death moments… it’s all about the human experience; the ability to read the room; recognise the emotions in a moment; lean in with empathy and see things from the perspective of others; understand the why of what you do; to sit comfortably with uncertainty and back ourselves in the big moments; the ability to make adjustments to the systems, guidelines, protocols, operational elements and to embrace the humanness of split second decisions. Green light moments, tilting the earth for success, choosing to be human rather than operational in a world that is increasingly complex and challenging.

What was your Quarter 1 revelation/learning? And as you step into Quarter 2, how will you keep humanness at the centre of everything you do? I reckon it lies somewhere in the habits you nurture around your own language, conduct and mindset.