A good night of sleep, the memory of “The Moment” well behind, I arrive on the sunny campus ready for the final round!
The climate in South Africa is nothing short of spectacular. The outdoor culture is impressive. A potential colleague generously handed me a 200 page book first thing in the morning with a list of all the running events in South Africa for 2014. You can run a race every weekend it seems. The friendly warmth of South Africans mirrors the contagious Ghanaian smile and hearty laugh. It could be a good place to live and, no doubt, the school would be a great place to work. The American International School of Johannesburg is impressive. I wander the campus a bit awaiting my first interview – the day is quiet, parent conferences are happening in another area so I’m left in the campus gardens – just me and the birds!
Two team interviews and several conversations with various folks seem to go fine. By mid-day the interviews are over. I was well rested and in reasonable shape and while I am certain not everyone found every answer satisfactory, I’ll take my chances. If you are a baseball fan you know that superstars are only successful 3 out of 10 times that they are up to bat. That’s a pretty low percentage. What would happen if I had only been successful with 3 out of every 10 questions? I’d be toast. So, the day ended without any desperate last minute heroics. No need for any desperation 3-point shots or long downfield “hail mary” touchdown tosses or bases loaded heroics in the bottom of the 9th inning. No Sudden Death drama….
Having said that, as the admin team has their final meeting before I am to meet with the Head of School, I’m left wondering. I have a sense of the personalities on that team and I imagine the conversation in my head….
“He had a strong first quarter on Monday but fumbled badly during that stretch on Tuesday”.
“Let’s take a look at the slow motion replay, notice how he delicately avoided with that response.”
“Yes, but he got stuck badly by the aggressive offense of that interview team earlier today?”
“How did he respond after that brief setback?” “Is he really up for the challenge from us?”
When you visit an organization for a few days you spend time synthesizing anecdotal data and pondering. Peeling back the onion of any organization is always fascinating. Personalities stand out, systems and territory are revealed and over a 48 hour period, questions lead to questions lead to opinions expressed and insights formed. Schools are all about people and relationships. People have much to say about their worlds of work and I am absolutely intrigued by organizational dynamics. It’s especially interesting when you are being interviewed by those who might be future colleagues!
As Rhona and I await our closure meeting with the Head of School, I am truly at peace with any decision. I’ve expressed
interest in two international school positions. If neither of these work out, we are planning on returning to the US and I will find a position in an independent school. I’m not a natural self-promoter, not my style, and I’m okay with that. However the decision goes down, I am not defined by this experience. I feel proud of my body of work as an educator over the years and I know that I am able to create the conditions to influence learning in a positive and genuine way. So, as the decision looms, I’m completely comfortable with the options.
Enter the office, sit across from the head of school, debrief a bit, the contract is on the table and the deal is done….the job is MINE! Rhona and I are delighted, the decision is made, we are headed to Johannesburg next year!
While there is no end of game scoreboard broadcasting the results, I do know that the feeling is positive and the match between my resources as a school leader and the needs of the high school at AISJ is aligned. I think this is the case and, if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t want the job. It’s about alignment. It’s important to remember this.
Upon reflection, what else is worth remembering?
- Being “at peace” with decisions that impact your life’s work is truly important. I was completely prepared for rejection. Remembering just how much I have to be grateful for is important.
- Refuse to be defined as a professional by the success or failure of a singular job search. There are opportunities and matches out there.
- Pursuit of jobs is an intense roller coaster experience. Levelling the roller to create more coaster is something to consider. Finding moments of calm seas is essential.
- Embrace ambiguity. After most interviews and conversations there are often discomforting memories that leave you wondering.
- Remember to trust your instincts and intuitive insightful moments. They tell you much.
- Writing is a reflective activity for me and allows me to process experiences. Writing about this job search was hugely beneficial to my thinking, and fun!!
How will you approach your next job search?