A dear spiritual advisor of mine once (or maybe 100 times) told me that it was none of my business what others think about me. I hear the words; I comprehend the words; I can spell those words; but no matter what, I still often worry what other people think about me.
Part of it, quite honestly, is the nature of my work. I teach every one of the Educational Leadership courses at a couple of universities (at varying times, of course; not all at the same time). I care so much about the reputations of my students when they become school leaders that I am often tough on their spelling and grammar they use in their writing. I also pretty strictly adhere to the rubrics on which each assignment is graded. I frequently will have a student tell me in the first week or so of the course that I am "ruining" their 4.0 GPA because I "gave" them an A- on a paper. I want to say "Oh brother! Just wait until a parent comes to your office with a memo you wrote that contains multiple writing errors to say, 'You are the principal of an elementary school where my child is supposed to be learning how to write correctly, and you can't even check over your work??' Then tell me how much that A really mattered." The problem is that grading is hard work. Giving feedback is only hard if it is done well- substantively, timely, and purposefully.
As I was getting ready to deplane my first flight this morning on my way to go work with administrators on building a culture of trust in their schools, I happened to glance down at a passenger's phone. He was looking at his Inbox on his email, and there looked to be 100s (!) of unread emails. I almost started sweating and twitching, wanting to take that thing out of his hand and help him organize his emails into folders.....but shoot!! the name of my blog is "mind my own business", so....ummm....that wouldn't be good, would it? You see, it freaks me out because that is not how I operate, but that very likely works for him. If my Inbox has one email in it, I have to DO something with it---put something on the calendar, put the email in a folder, or return the email, etc. But that is how I operate----what he does is his business, not mine (despite the fact that I was having palpitations about it).
On the flipside, I have a rather obsessive need to grade my students' papers within 24 hours after they are due at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday night. This is not a requirement; this is not even close to being an expectation by the university, but it is my business. I feel strongly that my students need quick feedback that is content and writing specific within a day so they can begin to work on next week's assignments. I even believe that this is modeling for future school leaders what teachers need in their own teaching----frequent coaching and feedback sessions in which teachers are able to reflect on their own teaching. Maybe the student in each class who is mad at me for ruining their GPA doesn't say anything, but the end-of-course evaluations tend to indicate that students really appreciate the feedback. I keep in touch with my students, sometimes long after I have had them in class. I've been blessed to go to lunch or dinner with students from a course I taught at my alma mater three years ago just to keep in touch. One of my students called me the other day to tell me she had just been offered (and she accepted, of course) a job as an Assistant Principal. She wanted to thank me for some advice I had given the class two years ago! Wait! Dave doesn't even remember something I told him last week, and you remember my advice from two years ago??? (Just kidding---Dave hangs on my every word, I'm sure!)
So, the way I do things and the way you do things may be totally different, but if it works for us, then that is my business and it is your business to mind our own business. Currently, my business is ensuring that the work I do for these administrators in this school get the best of me and my facilitation tomorrow, so I better make it my business to go catch my next flight. After all, someone in the seat next to me might need my advice on how to organize their mail in their Inbox.