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One sure way to block success is by running away from a belief, idea, thought or feeling you have about yourself. For instance, if you’ve ever thought:

– I’m a bad leader.
– I’m going to be “found out” as a fraud.
– Other people are doing a better job.
– I’m a bad teacher.

You know what I’m talking about.  But I want you to know you’re not alone.
For over 25 years of teaching, I’ve had the thought “I’m a bad teacher” rear it’s ugly head. I’ve noticed it happens when

  • I get a negative evaluation
  • My learning session didn’t run as well as I’d hoped
  • I am stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things

I used to try to run away from it (over prepare, try to be perfect, try to be really nice).

But running away is exhausting.

Plus, whatever we resist will persist until we pay attention.

Paying attention means embracing, being curious, or examining the thought when it emerges.

It takes courage to investigate the dark.  But that’s where you’ll find your wisdom.

When I embrace “I’m a bad teacher“:

1.  I reflect

One gift is it helps me not become complacent.  It causes me to think through all my sessions, materials and learning strategies.  It helps me make changes and continue to find ways for improving.

2.  I’m kind to myself

It can be scary standing in front of a group of people.  I still get nervous on occasion.  When it emerges, I’m reminded to practice self-care and kindness.  If a child is scared it’s best to offer comfort and kindness rather than tell the child not to be scared.  The thought reminds me to do the same for me.

3.  I look at the bigger picture

Embracing “I’m a bad teacher” allows me to look at the bigger picture and trust what is taught is not always learned at the same time. Sometimes people who don’t like the work have come back years later to let me know how much they learned. Plus, not everyone will connect to every teacher.


I want to remind you that your “shadow beliefs” often happen when you:

  • Take on a new leadership role
  • Step into your first classroom
  • Try something new
  • Are navigating change

It’s nothing personal: it often means you’re growing.

My hope for you is that you continue to have the courage to embrace the self-beliefs you find uncomfortable.  And in so doing, find your wisdom.

PS: For the record, I think you are spectacular!

A question for you:

What negative thoughts have you had that turned into wisdom?  What was the belief and how did you see it as a gift for you?


  • William says:

    Hi Jeff, yep, I wish we could let everyone know that often those thoughts simply mean “we are growing” and hopefully we are surrounded by people who are encouraging us along the way.

  • William says:

    Amanda, what a wonderful response. The gift of your experience of moving outside of your comfort zone is that not only did you grow, but you can help others grow as they move into that zone. Congrats on your courage! William

  • Jeff Sapp says:

    This is such a powerful piece. I know it resonates with me personally. I work with beginning teachers who often think they’re doing poorly because they’re not as great as their veteran mentor. They honestly beat themselves up because they’re not at a veteran level in their first months of teaching! I tell them to be as compassionate with themselves as they are to their many students. Self compassion. Very important. I really love this piece, William.

  • Amanda Plumb says:

    When I took on the role as a Director of a service it was the first time taking on a leadership role within my profession that really took me out of my comfort zone. At the time I knew it was the right decision as I was not feeling challenged in my role as a Diploma qualified educator or 2IC and wanted to have more of an impact on a service. It was challenging as I had moved interstate for the position and knew no one and also had to adjust to some differences in procedures and practices. The gift that I now see from this challenge is the support and guidance I have received from my peers in my profession, the achievements we have accomplished as a team and also the way in which I now work and interact with other educators and children. I have grown as an educator and my pedagogy has been enriched with new perspective and knowledge which is making me a better leader as time goes on.

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