I haven’t a first day in a long time. First day’s are exciting and a little unnerving. There are always people to meet and new routines to develop, but there is also a sense of not exactly knowing what to do.
I’ve spent the past 21 years as a high school principal. That role, like all roles, comes with a well defined frame around it. The frame isn’t necessarily about how we see ourselves, more about how we are seen through our title. For years parents would come to my office, the Principal’s Office, and be nervous. They would remark that they had never been to the Principal’s Office before — that comment is evidence of a powerful frame. For principal’s the frame includes fear. That I spent time trying to undo some of that frame isn’t important. What is important is that yesterday afternoon I left that frame behind.
Today I sit in my new office with a new role and a new frame. My new frame is largely undefined, it is day one after all. My new role isn’t only new for me it is also new for the district so there isn’t a pre-existing frame for me to slide into. This is all brand new. As principal I always seemed to know how to walk down the hallway of my school. Today, I’m not even certain about when to use the bathroom. First day’s are complicated.
Frames comes with identity. We can choose to lean in or to demystify if we want. Without one I am left exposed, a cog in a wheel when only one day previous I was the leader. New frames come with time and this one will have to be constructed from scratch which may take longer than usual. Now it’s time for me to discover, again, who I am.