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Scott Taylor

Superintendent , Kenilworth Public School District

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Don't look at critics for your truth!

One of the biggest mistakes I made as a novice leader was to allow my critics to influence my decisions and my vision. It took me a while to realize these people were in no position to inform me. They were people with an agenda who likely had self-centered reasons for criticizing my work.

I was compelled to revisit my early career weakness after reading part of actress Laura Linney's commencement speech at Julliard School's 2013 graduation ceremony:

"I hope you never give anyone the power to tell anyone how to feel about your own work. That is your responsibility alone. Critics are in a different profession than we are. Don’t look to them for your truth.”

Despite many hours in graduate classrooms and years of leadership experience (both good and bad), I still fight my emotions while trying not to let the critics get me down. I know it's a natural human response for many, but I've got to always remember not to look to others (who don't know what I know) for my "truth."

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    Jul 20 2013: I wish more people (including my subordinates) were more willing to provide feedback.The problem I sometimes have is that my subordinates do not want to give me feedback (even anonymous). As one veteran principal recently said, "Scott, I'm from a generation of administrators that did not grow up giving bosses feedback."
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      Jul 23 2013: One reason this happens, I think, is that people are used to hearing people claim to accept negative feedback (from peers or employees) who then demonstrate by their actions or anger that they do not, in fact, consider such feedback or do but hold a grudge forever after.

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