Posted by: Jim E | January 25, 2010

“All Glory is Fleeting”…

Standing ovations…hmm...well I guess I have had a few in my lifetime…I must admit there is no feeling quite like it…I remember one (not hard to remember…I said there were “few”)…

It was my first year as principal of Coon Rapids High School…there was a snafu in planning the year opening teacher workshop…the snafu was…they chose me to give a power point presentation of our district test results…

Now lets get this clear…it wasn’t “my” power point presentation…I didn’t even know what a power point presentation was…and even when they gave me a “quick overview” of how it works and what it said…I didn’t even understand it then…on top of that, it was all numbers and graphs…comparisons and highs and lows, etc…and my strong point in school was not math…(in fact I don’t think I had a strong point in school!!!)…

They asked me before “going in”…”Are you going to be okay with this?”…I asked them, “Is there a choice?”…the answer was “No.”…so it was me…I had a day before I was to make a complete fool of myself…(that, I had done before)…and because I knew making a fool of myself, in front of a few hundred teachers, was not a good thing for the “new principal” to do…I spent some time on Plan B!!!…

I gave up on ever being able to explain the power point, and although I knew I was going to have some uncomfortable moments…I decided I would say some things after I ended the presentation…(which ended very quickly!!!)…I stood up, pleaded for understanding, went through the presentation (a lot of unrest “out there”)…and then started with Plan B…

Plan B was successful…because Plan B was me…who I am…mostly about kids, teachers and then I read an open letter I wrote to the school district our kids went to…and what the teachers meant to our kids, Judie and me…there was emotion…tears…applause…why?…because Plan B spoke to them as teachers…it wasn’t negative, it was positive…and after, I encouraged them to continue to do what will build kids up…and meet the needs of those same kids…I ended…

They stood up…applauding and cheering…and I can tell you, after the embarrassing beginning…this felt better…

All of that to get to this…the hardest part, as my Mother used to say: is to “Keep your head about you” (Rudyard Kipling)…when things are going so well…when people are saying good things about you…I had to take my own advice…that I have given to many over the years: “Don’t believe your own press clippings!!!”…keep your feet on the ground…

One of my favorite movies is “Patton”…in it George C. Scott captures the essence of this truth…”All Glory is Fleeting”…

“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”
– Gen. George C. Patton

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