The Wonderful World of Int’l School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #5 – “Check your ego at the door.”
January 6, 2012
“Nine Lessons Learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.
5. “Check your ego at the door.“
“I got about an even mix of offers and rejections from the schools I talked to. One school in particular seemed so right after two interviews that getting the rejection note broadsided me with the force of a turbo-powered school bus. I bumped into one of the interviewers later, and he told me that choosing my competitor over me was the hardest decision they made the night before, and that it took them over an hour of group deliberation to make it. A rejection can happen for all sorts of reasons – maybe they needed yearbook experience you didn’t offer, or needed that administrator whose spouse happened to be a less-qualified candidate for the position you want. So don’t take it personally.”
“Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent.” Sigmund Freud.
The greatest sports legends, the inventors of things we rely on today, great actors and actresses, all of these people must seem to have a big ego. Maybe it comes with their achievements or our projections of them? Then there are the great dictators, the generals of war or just some average Joe that just won the biggest-ever on his lottery ticket. Ego comes in many shapes and forms, and albeit some are seemingly more attractive than others. It’s a hard task to know when to enhance or down play your own ego.
We’re constantly told to either just stand in line or be like others, that we don’t really deviate from the mass, that we’re just one in a million, that perhaps we’re not as special as we think. Then we’re told we need to stand out, make a difference, show our true colors, let the ego steer and victory will come our way. So, what are you to do at the international school recruiting fairs?
Ego is an ambivalent thing, you could say that it’s both our chance and our fall. It’s the chance to express ourselves, to enhance our personality to make it clearer how we stand out from the masses, what makes us special, what we’re capable of; how we’re the best of all of them. But there is a line, and if that line is crossed, our personality becomes too big and a bit desperate, we express ourselves in a way so superior to others that we make them feel small, we become way too special, maybe even too good for our own good; we are the best of all of them, no question there, there’s “me” and no one else.
It’s often in job interviews we’re left with the difficult task of being the best and out shining the competition, but in such a manner that we don’t let our own ego get the better of us, and suddenly instead of standing out positively in the round robin session or administrator’s hotel room during the interview, we stand out negatively instead. It’s practically a game of ego vs. humble. It’s pointing out the things you are good at and how you are the best for the position, but it’s just as much being humble, being likable, charming, sitting straight, smiling, having eye contact, being interested, letting your ego shine from time to time, but not letting it consume the space.
“There’s nothing like rejection to make you do an inventory of yourself.” James Lee Burke.
And every so often your ego takes a blow. When you venture in life, there’s always the risk of rejection. Sometimes it feels like there isn’t any international school out there that wants to hire you. It’s basically the same whether you open your heart for someone you love, or you are at a job interview, getting that “no” is a sour sting to your ego. And that’s when the inventory begins: should I have? or could I have? Would it have? And so on and so on…
Every mountain we climb in this life should probably have two gates: “for exit hurry” or “in risk of rejection”. We can’t go through life (and international school recruitment fairs) without getting a little hurt sometimes, without bruising our ego. It’s all part of living as they say; the smart and clever ones. So maybe you didn’t have enough experience, maybe the connection just wasn’t there, or maybe, just maybe someone was just better than you. You know, you shouldn’t take it personal. It just means you get a few more rounds through the “in risk of rejection” gate. And who knows, just one week after the fair, when you weren’t offered any contracts to sign, you might receive in your email inbox the offer from the international school you have been dreaming of working at! It is happened many times in our International School Community.