Arriving in Dubai

Leadership

My arrival into Dubai has been quite a whirlwind with many of the great hallmarks of “misadventure”, beginning with the initial packing of bags and deciding what to bring. Being a reflective fellow I¬†thoughtfully laid out my clothes on the bed and was feeling confident that I had covered all bases. I then began to ponder about my new life overseas. Can this suitcase of clothes define my future? Given that I was moving overseas, was this all I needed to live my new life?

packing pageWith a suitcase that weighed 27.8 kgs I embarked on the journey to Dubai. Having noted my seat was close to an exit, giving me more leg room, I was feeling confident about the 15 hour flight. Until the young couple with their 15 month old baby came and sat next to me. I took a closer look around and saw that I was sitting in the middle of a number of couples with their babies. With flight attendants scurrying around finding bassinets to hang on the wall and parents wielding large bags of baby gear, it was at that point I felt the rising panic and I wasn’t disappointed. The little one used his lungs to awaken his colleagues around me. And that continued well into the flight.

Having survived the flight and profound lack of sleep, albeit a little battled scarred, I was fortunate to be collected from the airport and taken to my accommodation. Besides the fact that for me, everyone was driving on the other side of the road, the sudden braking and accelerating that continued for the next 20 minutes as the car fought with other cars for positions in the lanes, certainly ensured the sleep deprivation was instantly cast aside. I was totally awake. (For the record, my first driving experience when I was behind the wheel is a story for another time).

The initial experiences of getting to Dubai was extremely interesting but, by necessity, needed to take back seat when focusing on the reason I was here. My first few days at school made the initial trip all worthwhile beginning with the induction of new staff.

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First Step to Personal (and Professional) Growth – Identifying the Need

Leadership

I have been a principal in schools across three educational jurisdictions and two states in Australia for over twenty years. My current principalship, in a very successful school, in a beautiful part of the Mid North Coast of NSW, has reached the ten year mark.

There is a tendency for leaders to cement their stance on a school and then enter the plateau phase of leadership. Some say it’s best to leave on a high, before the sedentary side of leadership takes hold.

That said, life long learners seek further learning opportunities. They need the next challenge to keep relevant and on top of their game. For me, coming to that realisation has been tough as, like all people looking at their future, there is more at stake than what’s in it for me. There’s family to consider, mortgages, kids’ schooling, spouse’s career, your own ageing parents and extended family members, and even your friendship circles.

There are many reasons one decides to take the leap into a new job. Once decided and announced that you are leaving, people only see the top of the iceberg, they don’t see what is happening under the water, or the myriad of contexts, conversations, rationales, barriers, that lead to the decision. Usually the first response, naturally, is how your decision will impact them?

This introduction brings me to the purpose of this blog!

I have, with the blessing of my family, made the decision to resign my position to take up an international leadership position in Dubai. This blog will be an attempt to share my journey, firstly with my family, who will, for the first part, remain in Australia, until our youngest finishes her HSC in 2015.

I hope to chronicle my experiences, more as a therapeutic or reflective process, but hopefully, like other similar blogs, offer insight into the highs and lows of moving into an expat life.