I have been walking in my dream as a self-employed, independent, unaffiliated, national education speaker, consultant and author for ten years now. At the age of 50, I left my purpose as a principal ten years ago to walk into my passion as a trainer of principals. The springboard to getting here however was my 6-year tenure as the principal of Newark Tech HS in Newark, NJ...the best 6 years of my professional life. Prior to my arrival to Newark Tech in the fall of 2005, I had hit rock bottom professionally. When I say "rock bottom," I mean ROCK BOTTOM...which had an obvious adverse impact on me emotionally. In today's lexicon, we would say that my mental health took a significant hit. I was not well...at all. I was in bad shape. I was on the verge of losing everything I worked so hard for over the previous 17 years...and I was on the verge of a breakdown emotionally, because I dared to "go against the grain" professional. I dared to do certain things my way which I felt strongly were best for children...decisions I don't regret one iota today and if given the same circumstances again, I would proceed in a similar fashion. Said differently, we all have principles that we stand beside but the true test to your commitment to your principles is when they are challenged. Mine were challenged and it almost cost me my career.
Friday, July 30, 2021
Sometimes, It Takes Hitting Rock Bottom to Realize You Were Born to Soar!
I don't know who this is for, but I hope it benefits someone....and in full disclosure, this message started out as a simple Facebook post, but as it got unintentionally lengthier than I intended for it to be, I decided to turn it into a blog post.
My point - there's someone out there reading this blog post who's either at rock bottom or on a downward spiral toward approaching rock bottom. Rock bottom isn't always a bad place though. For me, it was the absolute best thing that could have happened to me both professionally and personally...a blessing in disguise. It forced me to dig deep into my soul to locate....to identify...to find aspects of me that I didn't know existed. I was "comfortable" for a long time...TOO COMFORTABLE...but this experience forced me to become "uncomfortable with being comfortable and comfortable with being uncomfortable." I had no solid Plan B. Yes, I was a public speaker on the side, but not to the extent of making a career of it. I was on my backside now. I was literally suspended from my principalship - I was a local news story (television, radio and print) and my termination hearing was the following week. I'M TALKING TO SOMEONE OUT THERE....I STOOD FIRM ON WHAT I BELIEVED WERE THE RIGHT DECISIONS FOR CHILDREN....I STOOD FIRM BESIDE MY PRINCIPLES...AND NEARLY LOST IT ALL.I remember it like it was yesterday...September 22, 2004...the school board voted unanimously...7 to 0 that the decisions and actions that I took in question were appropriate and that I be reinstated immediately. Again, I stood firm by my principles.
At the end of that school year, I transferred to a school district that I knew nothing about and became for the first time, a high school principal. What an experience it was. It gave me a reset. It gave me a new lease on life professionally. I found a fit where I truly belonged. I was able to be "Principal Kafele." Those six years at Newark Tech were the springboard to the work I have been doing over the past ten years, but in order to get here, I had to leave the situation that was taking a toll on my mental health. Newark Tech was my cure. My mental health and that situation were not compatible and something had to give. I made what turned out to be a life-changing decision...to start all over in a place where I had peace of mind.
I'M TALKING TO SOMEONE OUT THERE TODAY. Someone reading this essay is going through something. Someone reading this essay has been challenged. Someone reading this essay is being tested. Someone reading this essay is contemplating quitting, giving up or throwing in the towel. Someone reading this essay is contemplating walking away from your dream...your purpose...your passion. Someone reading this essay feels that they have hit rock bottom....a point of no return. My response to you is WAIT...STOP...HOLD ON! Rock bottom isn't always a bad place. Sometimes, rock bottom is the blessing you were waiting for but it came to you in a disguise. That situation you are in just might not be the right situation for you but you needed to hit rock bottom in order for you to realize it. There is so much more in you. There is so much more to you. There is so much more for you. There are so many gifts and talents that are laying dormant within you that you haven't identified or unleashed yet. There are so many people in the world waiting for you to soar in another direction....a new direction...directly toward them...people who NEED YOU! That situation you are currently in doesn't have to be your final definition of who you are. It is time for you to redefine yourself. It is time for you to pursue a new breakthrough. It is time for you to blossom into your fullness....but you might not be able to do it there.
Hey somebody out there, if I am in fact speaking to you, GET UP OFF OF YOUR BACKSIDE, start writing your new goals, devise and write your new strategy and begin to walk in it everyday in the spirt of a RENEWED YOU. Get yourself a trusted accountability partner too. Start this process right after you finish reading this essay. Don't put it off for another second. Procrastination is the enemy of all pursuits. Start today....RIGHT NOW and do know that the road will be bumpy at times, but that's okay. That's just life. Keep your eyes fixated on the prize. And realize that "flying" was always in you, but sometimes, it takes hitting rock bottom for us to fully realize that we were all born to soar in the first place.
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