Jim Collins once said that "a big secret among effective leaders is that you can bend the world to your will a surprising amount of the time —most leaders don’t even try, and end up accepting that things are the way they are."
Self-belief is tremendously powerful.
The right mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement, and persistence will polish the difficulties ahead for yourself and your team and make you believe that any task at hand is possible.
The most successful school leaders believe in themselves almost to the point of delusion.
If you and your team don’t believe in yourselves, it’s hard to have contrarian ideas about the future of your school.
But this is where most value is created.
Most highly successful school leaders have been really right about the future at least once at a time when the board and their colleagues thought they were wrong.
They have given themselves a lot of chances to get lucky by adopting the maxim “I will fail hundreds of times, and I will be really right once."
In the meantime, and throughout these many small failures, managing your own and your team’s morale is one of the hardest challenges you'll face as a school leader.
In this light, the biggest competitive advantage in school leadership is long-term thinking.
In a world where few leaders take a truly long-term view, parents, teachers and the community richly reward those who do.
Lastly, self-belief and self-confidence have to be balanced of course with a strong dose of humility and self-awareness.
As Epictetus wrote, "it is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”
Humility is the key trait for self-improvement. It enables us to challenge what we know and to get rid of the preconceptions that stand in the way of progress.
In any case, the bottom line is that self-belief can act as a psychological immune system.
When the going gets tough, it helps us stave off emotions that cause us to be unproductive and breakdown.
A successful school leader in a difficult predicament will be able to fool himself or herself into being persistent long enough for luck to go their way.