Everything Happens for a Reason

I spent eight years as an assistant principal.

Those eight years provided a great learning experience. I handled all of the responsibilities that go with being an AP such as behavior, scheduling, supervision, evaluation, and instructional leadership.

Although I enjoyed the role, like most other APs I had a dream of one day running my own building. There was always something about having the opportunity to put my own “touch” on a school that was appealing.

During my time as an assistant principal, I applied for several head principal jobs. While other colleagues got their shot after a single interview, I didn't have nearly the same luck.

My first twelve interviews ended in rejection.

That's right. I didn't get my chance until my thirteenth interview.


I am often contacted by other leaders wanting to know how to take next step. Whether it be the role of an assistant principal, principal, or superintendent, they come to me looking for advice.

Often, these individuals are frustrated with recent bad luck in interviews. My advice is to be persistent and the right job will eventually come.

There is an old quote that says, “everything happens for a reason.” As frustrated as it was to receive those rejection phone calls, I believe everything worked out in the end.

With some early interviews, I simply wasn’t ready to be a head principal. With some later interviews, the jobs or locations could have stymied my professional growth.

Quite often I am asked how I deal with this type of rejection. In all honesty, I’m pretty upset for a couple weeks. There is anger towards the district who didn’t select me, and doubt in my own professional abilities.

Once those feelings of discomfort go away, I start thinking about what I can control. What is preventing me from getting those jobs? How can I do better in interviews? Where can I grow in my current job?

I used rejection as motivation to get better at what I could control. I sought critical feedback from employers, created artifacts highlighting my achievements, and requested new challenges in my current position.

As frustrating as it was, being rejected twelve times not only made me stronger, it provided me with excellent perspective for helping others process their own rejection. People are often surprised to hear how many times I was spurned and find comfort in knowing their experiences are quite typical.

If you are struggling to take the next step in your administrative career do not lose faith. As hard as it may be to hear, the jobs you aren't getting weren't meant for you.

One day you will pick up the phone and you will get your good news.

Remember. Everything happens for a reason.

Looking for a great book on dealing with rejection? Check out How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams.

Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Jared Smith LLC.  Specializing in Leadership, Education, and Personal Growth.