I Thought All Decisions Were Black and White

02/07/2011 05:48 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In another life I'm positive I was a teacher (it's been so long, but I'm pretty sure).

Back in the good old days, running a school or school district seemed so easy.

I could sit in a teacher's meeting and come up with the correct answers in a split-second.

You didn't even have to ask me. (And trust me, no one did).

Actually, you didn't even have to have a teacher's meeting. I could simply stand in the hallway and share my opinion.

I just knew how things should be done.

Things seemed so simple from my vantage point (in the back... sometimes paying attention).

I was positive I understood all the decisions school administrators should make (ALL... not some... ALL).

Give me a problem. I had the answer.

Don't give me a problem. Still had the answer.

No hesitation.

No second-guessing.

No mistakes.

Back then, I was a genius (in my own mind... and only in my own mind).

Basically, I was batting a 1,000 percent on any and all tough decisions (I was keeping track... probably when I should have been listening).

It really wasn't that hard.

In fact, it always confused me why principals and superintendents made things look so difficult.

Everything seemed clear to me. Very black and white.

Then I became an administrator.

About two minutes in, I realized decisions were seldom black and white (it took two minutes because the first 90 seconds I was frozen from sheer panic).

In fact, after eight years, I have come to realize there aren't any decisions that are black and white.

They're all gray.

Every single one.

I think this is because each decision an administrator makes involves people.

Sure, you may be deciding on a sports schedule or a printer cartridge, but eventually the decision leads you to a person.

If only I knew then what I know now.

E-mail Michael Smith at