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I absolutely love teaching. I used to teach theatre management and theatre history, sometimes directing and acting. But I adore teaching massage most of all. Now I am being offered the position of Director in charge of our campus's massage school.
I'm honored but also fearful. I had been director at a state university's performing arts center. The stress and politics nearly killed me. After a bout with a brain tumor, I chose to switch careers instead of pursuing my PhD and go into massage. I wanted to switch from being a type "A" personality and try to become more laid back, accepting. Now the Universe is offering me a second go at being in charge, and I am frozen with fear.
I would still get to teach. Indeed, I am required to teach at least 15 hours a week. The owner is not an easy woman to work for. The owner owns the schools and expects all her wishes and demands to be met immediately. Her second-in-command is competent but far away from our campus. I fear making mistakes. The owner's style of management is yelling. She is not a patient woman. My fear is taking this job and failing. I fear that my health could be a problem, as I have RA. I fear being disliked by my students and coworkers. My students love me right now, but will possibly love me less when I have to be the 'Baddie" and enforce the rules like 'no cell phones." There are several teachers who will dislike the fact I was offered the position and they were not. They have been there longer but I hold two master degrees, one in administration. I fear the job sucking up time away from my family. I've never been good at just doing 40 hours and calling it a week. The pros to taking the job: salaried position, health insurance and the potential to bring some great things to the school like CE classes for alumni and more guest speakers, workshops and other great benefits for the current students.

I want to accept the position but I am afraid and coming up with more reasons to decline. What can I do to help me overcome the burns of the past and embrace the future?

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Comment by Kelly Grounds on April 12, 2010 at 5:46am
FYI-the universe made my decision for me since I wouldn't make. The director left suddenly due to health issues and the school had no choice but to send me in as director. I'm calling it our '90 day try-before-you-buy' period. So far, so good. Is there a discussion group here for program directors? LOL
Comment by Stephen Jeffrey on March 30, 2010 at 6:35am
Best of luck, hope it goes better than you could ever have of imagined.
Comment by Erica Olson on March 29, 2010 at 7:44pm
As Vlad said, what's the worst that could happen? What does "failure" look like to you in this circumstance? Figure out the absolute worst-case scenario and ask yourself if you could live with it. (If you can, you'll be fine.) Also figure out ways to avoid or mitigate those situations you are apprehensive about--at least, the ones you can control. (You can't really control whether or not your students and co-workers like you, so don't even bother thinking about it. They will or they won't.)

YOU are going to have to be the one to set boundaries and stick with them, whether that is the amount of time you will allow to work to take over your life or whether you will accept the owner's communication style and/or allow it to interfere with your health.

A couple of suggestions:

With regards to your family, you (and your husband/family) sit down and write out some strict guidelines about how much work you can bring home and under what circumstances, what is allowable and what is not. Say, if you've got a guest speaker or big workshop coming up, you're allowed 10 at-home work hours in the week leading up to it--but family/kid activities always take priority (kid's got a concert the night before? Too bad for work--go be with your family, and be fully present when you do so).

Afraid that things aren't going to work out and you'll be fired from the school completely, no longer allowed to teach, and given a bad reference? Put in your employee contract (assuming that you have one) that these sorts of things are not allowed--no retribution and at worst, they can only confirm that worked for them.

Additionally, what with the current director stepping down earlier than expected, you've probably got them in a bit of a bind. Not only that, but you don't really care much one way or the other whether or not you get the director's position--hell, you're leaning the other way! Coming from a position of strength allows you to "make demands" that will give you a more favorable position. For example, if you have difficulty with confrontation or being yelled at, you might consider sitting down with the owner and letting her know that although you will take the job, she needs to communicate in X, Y, and Z types of manner and not via volume. If she does this, it will be more productive (and healthier emotionally and physically for you). If she can't stick to that, quit. It's like being on the receiving end of a verbally abusive relationship--you don't deserve it, you don't have to take it, and you have the freedom to leave at any time. If you've set up an escape clause in your contract, then you've nothing to fear.
Comment by Vlad on March 29, 2010 at 6:19pm
Kelly - good luck!
Comment by Kelly Grounds on March 29, 2010 at 5:20pm
Well, the current director made today her last day due to family reasons. I stepped in and will be taking over. Yikes! I'm excited but nervous. Wish me luck.
Comment by Vlad on March 29, 2010 at 3:35pm
I fear making mistakes
Yep, I can relate to that - I bet we all can.
It's a big step, but you wouldn't have been offered the job if the owner didn't think you were up to it.

My fear is taking this job and failing.
You said it again! So really, if we're reading between the lines here, it's failure that's really what your'e worried about the most, right?
What's the worst that can happen? If you don't like it, you can leave. Would that really be the end of the world?
"Fear of failure". If we all let it rule our lives then nothing would ever get done, new experiences would never be felt, we'd never take risks and no progress would ever be made.
Fear of failure is sometimes such a motivator too. You've got 2 master degrees and one of them is in administration. If anything, you're probably over-qualified for the job!

Bringng in rules is good for everyone and enforcing rules brings respect (just as long as they're illogical ones!) so I doubt you'll have much issue with the students. Dealing with a bad tempered boss is a different situation though.

It's a big questions alright, I'm not saying one way or the other because really I don't know you, but I just get a virtual vibe that you'll do a great job and I also get the vibe that you could do anything you put your mind to.

Having said all that, I think that in situations like this I go with the gut. What's your gut saying?
Comment by Emma Torsey on March 29, 2010 at 11:53am
Sometimes it helps me to sit down and write a list of pros and a list of cons.It may help you to see it written.
Best wishes with your decision .
Comment by Stephen Jeffrey on March 29, 2010 at 11:28am
Its easy to see why you would want to give sensible consideration this position, however you mention the risks to your health and family, you already beat a brain tumor !! = maybe to many cons ?

Would not an assistant director position be a more suitable step ?

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