This week I had the privilege of being interviewed by Joshua Stamper for his podcast, Aspire: The Leadership Development Podcast.
When our mutual friend, Jimmy Casas, from ConnectEdd.org, encouraged us to talk about my new book, I was in for a real treat. Not only did we discuss Pause. Breathe. Flourish.: Living Your Best Life as an Educator, but also, we unpacked several other topics together. In fact, Josh agreed to make this a simulcast – an episode we would both share out with our listeners. I am very grateful to bring you this episode that Josh so generously allowed me to post here as well.
Joshua Stamper is a middle school Assistant Principal for a North Texas School District, where he’s had the amazing opportunity to work at four campuses, two districts, and with hundreds of students, teachers, and administrators.
Prior to Joshua’s current position, he was a classroom educator and athletic coach for 6 years working with students in grades 6-8. He and his wife, Leslie are the proud parents of five children. In addition to his administrative position, Joshua is a podcaster, blogger, leadership coach and education presenter.
Here are some takeaways from our conversation:
Lessons in the leadership journey
Joshua Stamper: First of all, can you share your origin story in leadership?
WDP: I guess my first lessons in leadership came from the influence of my father who was a veteran and a small business owner. Also, during college, I received leadership training as a college resident advisor. Later, I was quickly overwhelmed with the responsibilities of leadership when I moved from teacher to school administration. Over time, you learn that leadership is not really about you. It’s about serving others. With that perspective, you begin to find more balance in doing what leadership is really about: helping others.
Joshua Stamper: What are some things that can help new leaders find balance?
WDP: First, remember you’re not as important as you think. Second, remember you are more important than you think. I know those statements sound contradictory. But if you unpack those statements, you’ll realize they are not as contradictory as they sound. Your school will still exist when you are no longer there so it’s important to walk into leadership with humility. At the same time, the small actions you take each day are so important because who you are as a person will influence the effectiveness of your leadership.
Joshua Stamper: Balance is hard to find. Can you explain more about finding balance in leadership?
WDP: My listeners are familiar with my story as a young administrator when my wife shared with me that I had become a shell of the man I had once been. Because of that frank conversation, I wrote a resignation letter to my school district. I took the letter to school, placed it in a folder, and set it on the corner of my office at school. I told myself I would either begin to find more balance in taking care of myself and family, or at the end of the year, I would resign and find a new profession.
That letter became a reminder of the new habits I needed to employ for self-care and investment in my life outside of school so that I could be better at my work. As a result, I began to reinvest in other areas of my life. I believe that helped me be a better person and a better leader. When you invest in your own areas of self-care, you will discover more energy and inspiration for the work you do at school.
Joshua Stamper: Yes, my own burnout in school leadership was saved when I began podcasting. Because I had a passion project, I found more joy in work at school. Tell us more about your book.
WDP: The concept for this book came as I was sitting on airplanes listening to flight attendants explaining that if the cabin loses pressure, an oxygen mask would drop down, and you should place it on yourself first before helping others. I see so many leaders who are helping others while forgetting to breathe. When you fail to breathe first, you will eventually pass out. In leadership, that means you need to invest in your body, mind, resources, friendships, intimacy, spirituality, and legacy. As you do, you find you keep developing as a person.
Joshua Stamper: What is a way you’ve applied one of those lessons in your own journey?
WDP: Let’s talk about friendships as an example. When my oldest brother died unexpectedly at the age of 46, I faced the most difficult grief I had ever experienced to that point. Friendships became such an important way for me to experience healing. I will never forget a friend of mine, a former student resource officer at my school, who sat with me after my brother’s death. He wanted to know the entire story. When I finished, this strong, uniformed friend just began crying. That was a poignant moment that brought me so much comfort. Those kind of moments do not happen unless you are taking time to invest in relationships.
Joshua Stamper: Can you share how you began podcasting as a passion project?
WDP: When I was still a school principal, I loved listening to leadership podcasts by people like Michael Hyatt and Dave Ramsey. Through their shows, I discovered a podcaster, John Lee Dumas, from Entrepreneur on Fire and later, Pat Flynn from the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Through their work, I began exploring how to podcast. Through Pat Flynn’s YouTube tutorial on how to podcast, I took the time during a school break, and over one-week I learned all the steps necessary for recording and publishing a podcast. With 220 episodes now, I am still enjoying it and learning so much.
While we are on the subject, Joshua, could you give us your quick origin story in podcasting too?
Joshua Stamper: Sure, when I was a new school administrator, I was a part of developing an aspiring leaders program for my district. I have remained interested in ways I could share lessons with aspiring leaders. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Todd Nesloney at his school, and he was interviewing Adam Welcome about his book, Kids Deserve It. Afterwards, he encouraged me to think about podcasting for aspiring leaders. I began to study the process, and now it’s a passion area for me too. In fact, it is due to podcasting, I rediscovered joy in my work as a school leader.
Next question: What advice do you have for aspiring leaders?
WDP: Here are three quick takeaways:
First, be excellent in your work right now. Your reputation will proceed you in whatever opportunity you’re looking toward stepping into later.
Second, make every situation an interview moment. You may be in the room today or tomorrow who can collaborate with you or open doors for a future opportunity.
Third, listen to feedback from others. Ask other leaders for their history and stories. When others provide you feedback, be open to constructive feedback.
Let’s Wrap This Up
You can hear more of my conversation with Josh Stamper by listening to the week’s episode or by checking out Josh’s episode of the conversation at his website: https://joshstamper.com. Or you can find him on Twitter @joshua_stamper. Take a minute to give his podcast a 5-star rating on iTunes and share it out with others!
Pause. Breathe. Flourish. Testimonial
I want to end this week’s post with an encouraging message from Principal Matters listener Eddie Trygar, Assistant Principal, at North Chatham Elementary in North Carolina. Here is some feedback he sent me after reading my new book:
Dear Will: This is Eddie Trygar from the Re-opening Mastermind. I wanted to write and tell you a way that Pause. Breathe. Flourish. has impacted me. I ran cross country in high school and college. After college, I ran two marathons. And then I bought a house, had kids, etc. The next thing I knew, I hadn’t been running in 20 years. When I read about your running routine, I was inspired to buy a new pair of running shoes and make exercise a priority again. I have found that a run after work reduces my stress and helps me sleep better. Best of all, my 10-year-old son has asked if he can run with me. It has opened the door to some great conversations with him as well. Running has allowed me to take care of myself AND spend quality time with my son. We have signed up for a 5K in December and I am so excited to share that experience with him. Thanks for the reminder that there is more to life than what happens at school. Thank you, Eddie Trygar, Assistant Principal, North Chatham Elementary
Now It’s Your Turn
What is a passion area for you where you find joy and encouragement? How can you prioritize time for that focus this week so that you can be leading from a place of positivity? Even it is just a few minutes today, what is one thing you can do to invest in your own self-care?