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Love, Loyalty, and...
Posted 11/09/2011 08:15PM

Love, Loyalty, and…

By Julia Russell Eells
Head of School

As long as I have been at Lincoln, I have experienced many a furrowed brow and plenty of hearty debates over the term “lowliness” in our school seal. It accompanies two words that our community can quickly embrace as we know that “love” and “loyalty” are key to our learning, our connections, our relationships and our community. Many ask (and appropriately so), “How can we perpetuate the idea that girls and young women are ‘lowly’ in pursuit of their education, work, lives and relationships?”

In the ancient sense of the word, “lowliness” refers to a quality of self-confidence that allows one to encourage the strengths of others. I see the presence of lowliness in so many interactions at Lincoln. Yesterday, a little girl working at the writing center with her friend said, “Polly, your words and pictures will be a book one day!” I have watched middle schoolers exhibit patience and support as a classmate works through the difficult placement of commas in a complex sentence, and I see student collaboration, support and mentoring in every corner of the upper school.

Being able to encourage others to step outside a comfort zone, pose a question, or take a risk is a sign of growing confidence, a quality that we work hard to nurture at Lincoln. From my perspective, lifting up others by virtue of moving out of the way is leadership at its best. It by no means softens the voice of a student leader, a team captain, or a lead in the play – it deepens and broadens it.

Business consultants often observe that women in leadership roles are more likely to explore compromise and solicit other people’s opinions than their male counterparts. It takes confidence for that kind of leader to be unafraid that she may be perceived as unsure or as a leader who does not have all the answers. My experience has been that the decisions and outcomes of that approach are creative, thoughtful, fair-minded, and effective.

The articles in this month’s “On Our Minds” focus on play, leadership, creativity, service and community. I ask readers to consider how the role that this ancient notion of lowliness plays a part in each girl’s journey at Lincoln and how embracing it will enhance the scholarship, career, and life ahead of her.

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