Why it’s important for leaders to choose the “scenic path” over the “psychopath”

Dennis Sparks

I remember a cartoon that showed a hiker pondering which of two trails to take. One trail marker said “scenic path,” the other “psychopath.”

Each day school leaders are given many opportunities to choose between these two paths. Their choice not only affects the quality of their work and day, but often affects the entire school community.

The scenic path leads principals, teacher leaders, and the school community toward higher functioning and greater well-being. It offers enthusiasm, hope, and other forms of positive energy.

The psychopath slopes downward into anger, cynicism, negativity, anxiety, and other forms of negative energy. As its name implies, this path creates a slow-death spiral that over time undermines and sometimes even destroys the very soul of the school community.

When school leaders are aware of these metaphorical trail markers as they reveal themselves throughout the day and of the implications of the paths they walk, they can more consciously choose the scenic route.

And even if they unconsciously barge down the psychopath, awareness of its effects on themselves and others can lead them to more quickly notice the error of their ways and turn back to find the scenic trail.

That awareness may also lead them to apologize to those who had the misfortune of crossing their paths along the way.

Leaders on the scenic path offer hope, joy, and peace to those whose lives they touch. That’s far more than sufficient reason for all of us to pay attention to the trail markers up ahead.

4 Responses to “Why it’s important for leaders to choose the “scenic path” over the “psychopath””

  1. 1 Barbara Madden February 25, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Scenic is the obvious choice! 🙂

  2. 3 Patricia T. De Bello February 26, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Recently a wise and trusted person commented something to this effect: “Emotional intelligence should be a primary quality in administrators and teacher leaders, but sadly, this is not always the case.” With extreme pressure on everyone in the school community, from the students on up to central office administrators, to show “numbers” as the main measure of a successful school, the caution of this blog to be sensitive to the process is very timely and crucial! Often the one taking the “psychopath” may not even realize which path is being taken. This path is very rough, for all on it, and is counterproductive in many ways.

  1. 1 Choosing the Scenic Path over the Psychopath | Moving Forward Trackback on June 30, 2013 at 7:12 pm

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