Wednesday, April 1, 2015

One Tip for Making Changes

For two years, I was the principal at a high school in a suburb of Birmingham. In the south, football is a big deal, especially Fridays in southern high schools. The pep rallies at this school happened every game day, and the first year of my principalship I learned one of the school’s “traditions.”

Our biggest rival was a neighboring school, one that was part of a community that had split away from the one in which I was working. On a warm Friday morning, I walked through the gym and out the side door to the parking lot. What I saw shocking! Getting out of their cars and walking in our school were our female students dressed up in blue, the other school’s colors.

Our students tried to look “redneck” in the other school’s colors, jerseys, and t-shirts. I was shocked and disappointed to see so much blue at our school on a day when our school colors were red and white. So I talked to the kids that day… in my office, in the hallway, in the lunchroom... wherever I saw them. If they had something offensive on (a few had on t-shirts with offensive phrases on them), I had them to change. If they just had on the opposing school’s colors, I talked them about focus. 

As a player I was taught, and as a coach I taught my players, to “focus on US” not the opponent. Sure, we wanted to scout the other team and know what to expect in terms of plays they would run, key players, and tendencies, but our FOCUS would be on US. We would focus on what we could control. 

Because of my experiences, when I saw the girls dressed up in our rival’s colors I saw it as misdirected focus. I thought we should have been celebrating OUR team and school, instead of dressing up in our opponent’s colors. (Focus changer: After that day, I encouraged everyone to wear red on Fridays.)

Sometimes in life, we tend to focus on others instead of ourselves. Trying to make a change? Feel like you’re sitting in neutral without moving forward? You can change gears by changing your focus. 

Make a change in your life by changing your focus.

Click the Tweet button to tweet the quote.

What changes in focus are you trying to make?
How do you maintain your focus?

I would love to hear your story in the comments!


  1. Jennifer this is very true. I am currently focusing too much on the things that are negative in my school day and not spending enough time celebrating the positive. Some of that is the nature of my job and I get that. But, I must take time to sit back and think about all of the good things that are going on too. What we focus on we see. I truly believe that to be the case. My focus is to try to not let the negative 10% of events overshadow the awesome 90%.

    1. Jon, I always appreciate your comments. Great reminder of how easy it is to focus on the negative, and we must be intentional about where we place our focus. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Jennifer thank you for the reminder of where to keep the focus. I just had a conversation with a mentor teacher who always tells her new staff to have a wide range of concern and care but to have a narrow range of focus and action. Good reminder to keep the focus on what we are doing!


    1. Hi, Jon. What a great tip... "have a wide range of concern and care but a narrow range of focus and action." Its so important to focus and act on what we can control, not the things out of our scope. Thanks for your feedback!