Always be a risk-taker!

That’s it! It’s all over! Another academic year has drawn to a close. What an unbelievably fast year it has been!

I love working in a big school for many reasons, but the high number of teachers means that there will inevitably be sad goodbyes at the end of each year. This, unfortunately, includes Danielle Cartwright this year, our much-loved Head of Year Four. As well as being a wonderful teacher, Danielle has been a truly inspirational leader. She will be sadly missed. I don’t know what we’re going to do without her!

Danielle’s sad departure created an opening. I was hoping that our Assistant Head of Year, Ada, would go for the Head of Year job so that I could apply for her role as Assistant. Fortunately for me, she didn’t. It was Danielle who encouraged me to skip this step and go straight for Head of Year. I toyed with the idea but, as much as I wanted to, I struggled to decide. For several reasons, I didn’t think that I’d get it. In the end, it was this question from Danielle that pushed me:

“What’s the worst that could happen?”

Even if I didn’t get it, I would have shown ambition and gained interview experience.

Why do we fear failure? We tell our children to take risks and celebrate failures. It’s all part of the learning process. We need to practise what we preach! Mistakes and mishaps are proof that we, too, are in our stretch zones (exactly where we should be). Can we even call this a risk? Once we put pride aside, there really isn’t anything to lose.

As it happens, I got it! I always had quiet confidence in myself and my potential, but I wasn’t sure if others saw it. They apparently do (and it means the world to me). I hope that this inspires others to bravely take risks. Whatever you hope to achieve, just go for it! Don’t allow anything (especially not pride) to stand in your way. Furthermore, don’t try to predict what others are thinking and what others want. When I did this, I created obstacles and problems in my head that didn’t actually exist. Stay humble without crippling yourself with doubt.

The risk is obviously not over. It has barely begun! Now I actually have to live up to it and prove myself. Next year, I will undoubtedly be in my stretch zone and, of course, the inevitable mistakes will happen. Bring it on!

“In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or back into safety.”

Abraham Maslow

I’m determined to make a success of it and committed to working as hard as possible to fulfil the potential that was seen in me. I have worries and fears, but I’m also hugely excited. I’m reminded of this fantastic quote from Erin Hanson:

I love this quote (it’s a great one to share with students). The excitement of possible success should always outweigh the fear of failure. The consequences of “falling” are nothing compared to the opportunities that come with “flying”. I will keep this in mind as I take on the leadership challenge. In particular, three things give me the confidence to proceed:

  1. The confidence that others have in me (especially Danielle).
  2. Ada as Assistant Head of Year.
  3. The amazing Year Four team (whatever mess I make, these awesome teachers will always make me look good).

In an upcoming post, I’ll share my goals for next year (both as a teacher and new leader). To stay in the loop, follow my blog or its Facebook page. For now, I’ll leave you with this fantastic tweet. I encourage you to save it (as I did), remember it, and think of it whenever you start to doubt yourself. Don’t ever look down!


  1. Congrats Adam. I happen to just come into the role of the Head of teachers in my school. Initially I felt overwhelmed, wanted to back down but OVERTIME, I HAVE FOUND MY FOOTING AND LOOKING FORWARD TO DO MORE just because I believed in myself. It hasn’t been a walk in the park though but I believe that tweet says it all for me. Congratulations once again and I wish us the best of experiences ahead.

    1. Hi omoackin,

      Thank you for the words of encouragement. I appreciate your comment very much. Congratulations to you, too. It’s fantastic that you have overcome the challenges that you faced. It’s vital that we believe in ourselves. Everything else will fall into place (even if the journey is a little bumpy).



  2. Congratulations! What a great new adventure for you!

    My Dad always told me and my brothers to apply to any job and go for any promotion that was remotely interesting, and to only worry about it if we got it. You lose nothing by applying, that’s for sure!

    1. Hi Emily,

      Great advice! I agree. I’m a great believer in learning by doing. Preparation is important, but we can’t truly learn to be a leader (or teacher, for that matter) without actually doing it. Secure the role, try our best, make mistakes, and keep on learning!



  3. Congratulations on finishing the year strong and bigger congratulations on the new title. I too lost a colleague to a different school at the end of the year and was able to sit on the interview team for her replacement. I’m looking forward to working with her replacement and in time we will establish our own routines and projects. As for my challenges next year, I began my term as president of ISTE’s EdTech Coaches PLN on July 1. Katie Siemer (she organized Blogging Buddies) served as president for the past two years and she will be a tough act to follow. Fortunately she is staying on the leadership team and the rest of the team are amazing so I know I will have great support from them and I won’t be doing all the work myself. Looks like next year will contain lots of stretching and risk taking for both of us. Enjoy your summer. It always goes by too quickly.

    1. Hi Gregory,

      Thank you for the kind words and your ongoing encouragement. Congratulations to you, too! What a fantastic role! Big shoes to fill indeed, but I’m confident that you have what it takes. I wish you the very best of luck. Well done!

      Enjoy your summer, too!


  4. Fantastic news Adam – well done you. I am sure you will be inspirational. I can so identify with your fears and those self doubts we all have and perhaps project false ideas of what others are thinking – its a bit like blogging really 😊 Having the courage to try and the bravery to put yourself and the ideas out there, that you believe in with the conviction to stand by them, whilst considering other voiced perspectives. Projecting confidence and a quiet self assurance is definitely key I think; so that others can see that and will then have the confidence to believe in you too. ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.’ Onwards and upwards Adam! Looking forward to your future leadership blog. Now have some rest and refresh…Enjoy..
    Best wishes

    1. Hi Claire,

      Thank you, as always, for the kind words and advice. Don’t worry about me resting and refreshing. It’s so important and I have every intention! I have Colombia, Peru, Canada and Tanzania to look forward to!

      Enjoy your summer, too!


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