Make 2020 Great – Focus on What You Can Control


man standing on stone near seashore during sunrise photography
Photo by Rangga Aditya Armien on

     As we enter 2020 and we are halfway through the 2019-2020 school year, it is important that all leaders take time to reflect upon their work.  Leading the work in a  school is a demanding job. Above all the mandates, reports, communication, and various work that must be done; leaders recognize their primary role is to help lift others up and provide the capacity to grow. However, leaders have found that they must also and should balance the demands of the professional world with their personal life.   This never ending demand for your time, energy and focus places stress upon leaders – so it is important leaders must recognize the key to a great year is to “Focus on What You Can Control”. 

     From my perspective, when you think about what you can control in your daily life there is very little. We cannot control other people, the phone calls or emails we will receive or the situations that we encounter daily. In reality, a person can only control 3 areas of their daily life. We can control our Efforts, Attitudes and Behaviors.  If a person can focus on these three key areas and do this consistently then they will find they are making greater impact, being consistent in their work, developing others and creating sustainable change. Even more important, a leader will feel more grateful, happy and optimistic about their impact. Here is a review of why these three areas are important and how it can help you move forward as a leader:

  1. Attitude – If a person has a positive outlook and approaches each situation with a “get to opportunity” instead of a “have to” it creates a focus and mindset that allows for success. This places the mental approach of the work in a positive light and focuses the challenge as opportunities for growth. This leads to optimism and instills confidence in the leader and others. As we all know, leaders set the tone, and if leaders have a positive attitude and lead with a positive intent then so will the staff. We must also recognize that at times we will fail if we try to challenge the status quo and innovate. In those instances, remind yourself that the failed attempt does not define you; but rather it refines you and your work. It is important to use a growth mindset, reflect upon the work and adjust to continue to strive for excellence.  Your daily work ethic and commitment to the process is what will determine success.
  2. Efforts – The tipping point to change is how leaders model behaviors by their work ethic.  Many people work hard but leaders work extremely hard and focus that effort in the correct areas. Leaders place emphasis on doing the right work and choose to spend their efforts during a day that will impact others. Leaders are selfless, model vulnerability, connect with others and create relationships.  The focal point of these relationships include being grateful, kindness and serving others. This allows others to feel supported, places value on feedback and reflection, and creates a strong team by developing trust. This helps to support a positive and strong school culture.
  3. Behaviors  – Leaders understand that how they Communicate and Collaborate with others will ultimately determine their success.  This communication focuses on instilling confidence in others, listening to ideas and supports them as learners and over time changes the thinking and behaviors in others. As an organization, the communication remind others of their purpose or “why” and values a strong partnership. The collaboration is essential as well as leaders know it is not about them but rather creating the strongest team possible.  When decisions are made, leaders involve others in that process and help create a school that is student and staff led, not top down. This strong culture is created by empowering others, developing trust and occurs by behaviors that are consistent and authentic.

     Leadership is about empowering others, bringing out the greatness in others and serving others. By focusing on what we can control through our attitude, efforts and behaviors then we can maximize our impact as leaders.  As you strive to grow as a leader, I would be curious about your thoughts of what you consider the right work and how you focus on what you can control in 2020. Reach out to me with comments at










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A Husband, Father and Principal with a focus on learning, leading and connecting with others.

An educator for 25 years with 14 of those being a building administrator. I have found that the more I learn form others and their experiences it helps me grow and learn as well. I hope you join our journey as we create learning environments for students and staff that create future success.

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