Attitude Is Everything



“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Nelson Mandela

Last year I followed a specific pattern for my posts to cover the life experiences that influenced my value system and led to the career I have today. I have decided that for this year my posts will also follow a pattern and the focus will be on attitude and how it can influence your life and how you lead it.

This decision came after reading the following article.

The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”

She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.”

And with a smile, she said: “Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.

2. Free your mind from worries.

3. Live simply.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less

By: Ripple Kindness Project

I am going to take these five rules seriously and hope that you will as well. Look for more of my thoughts on attitude as 2014 unfolds. Happy New Year!


Developing Character Muscles

“We develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.” Stephen R. Covey

What do Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox have in common? They both share the struggles associated with having Parkinson’s disease.

When I read an article this week about Michael J. Fox and the fact that April is Parkinson’s awareness month, I was reminded of the quote by Stephen Covey.  I’ve read the book, Lucky Man, by Fox and I am inspired by his continued positive attitude. Where most of us would use this disease as a reason to hide away or give up entirely, he has not let this disease stop him and has continued to be productive. Since he wrote Lucky Man, Fox has gone on to fight his battle with Parkinson’s and has even written two other books, Always Look Up: The Adventures Of An Incurable Optimist and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Future….

I have not read either of these books, but intend to put them on my priority reading list.

While Fox may have many of his muscles taxed and weakened by his disease, he certainly has strengthened and built up his “character muscles.”  Most of us fortunately will not face a devastating illness like Parkinson’s, but when we do experience the setbacks and challenges of day-to-day life, I think it is important to put them into perspective and always maintain a positive attitude.  As I said in a prior blog, I am a glass overflowing type of person, but even I need the occasional reminder and inspiration from folks like Michael J. Fox.

Just as the steel blade is tempered and made stronger by the heat of the fire, all of us should come out a bit stronger after facing the fires of day-to-day life. Having a positive attitude not only makes things easier to deal with, but it also makes us easier to work with – well at least I hope it makes the doer in me easier to work with, I’ll let you be the judge.

So when you face the next challenge in your personal life or the next Fire Drill at work, take a deep breath and think of Ali and Fox and put your challenges into perspective. At the end of the day, remember how you handle yourself during these moments is not only what leaves a lasting impression, but just the fact that you have had these experiences is making you stronger.

As I think of all the people I know who suffer from Parkinson’s, I am humbled by their continued drive and determination.

Being A Doer

 Last week I said I should title this “the good, the bad, and the ugly,” but decided that this would not do justice to the strengths of the Doer.   I did, however, want to pay homage to the nick name (Taz) that my daughter gave me many years ago.  After yet another stress filled morning getting three teenagers off to school, did I say they were all girls? My daughter started calling me Taz. This was probably due to my frenzied flinging of school books, lunch bags, cans of hair spray, and various articles of unmentionable clothing that were strewn about the house. All of this as I had to fight for the bathroom to get ready for work and eat my breakfast on the run. You can easily see how I earned my name and of course why my pants were often on backwards.

 I would like to say that I am different in my work life than I am at home, but when the pressure of work projects looms out comes the Taz in me.   As you know from my earlier blog, we Doer’s get a lot done, but sometimes at the expense of dead bodies left in our wake. 

When brought to our attention that we may have caused a bit of an issue as we voraciously chewed through a problem, we Doer’s are usually confused as to why anyone is upset because after all we did get the job done. And very quickly at that! So all Doer’s be forewarned while you may accomplish a lot you need to keep the battlefield clear of bodies.

ImageNow in case you think that I am a real “piece of work,” please remember that I am not a Doer all of the time just when I am under pressure. When I am working along as I am today just getting things done at a normal pace, I am really a thinker. I had plenty of time to get ready for work this morning (the girls are all grown and gone) and my pants have that knife-edge crease in them. I am operating in my best thinker mode pondering all the different detailed ways to write this blog and get my points across. As you can tell, I do love pictures and still identify with the Taz.

ImageI’d like to also add that when the conditions are very favorable I can switch into my Feeler mode.  This is when I walk around the office and chat with folks and find out how they are doing, what their children are up to, and maybe even invite someone to walk across the street for a Starbuck’s. More on this next week as I share a bit about the Feelers among us. Perhaps I should dub them more politically correctly and call them the “Connectors.”

Working with a Pure Thinker

Last week I wrote about my experiences with a pure Innovator (Intuitor in some camps), but this week I’d like to focus on my friend the Thinker. What comes to mind for me is the statue by Rodin, with his thoughtful expression and solid cut in stone appearance. The Thinkers among us are sometimes characterized as being organized, structured, conservative, analytical, rational, controlled, etc.  In an earlier post, I summed this up by saying that you can tell a Thinker by his pants being pressed with a knife-edged crease (actually I believe I said it would cut butter).

When I think of someone I work with who fits the model of a “pure Thinker,” I remember a recent team building exercise. The Thinker was on my team and since it was raining I of course went into my “Doer” mode and wanted to complete the event quickly, while my teammate the Thinker was keeping the notes in dripping detail.  After we finally slogged back to the comfort of the office with our soaking shoes and clues – this was a CSI crime solving team event – the Thinker then proceeded to catalog the clues in excruciating detail. It seemed that each individual hair needed to be accounted for by its length and color or at least that is what I thought the Thinker was doing constantly handling each hunk of hair over and over again. When it came time to solve the crime, our team was last to submit our clues and solution and even then we did not win!

The team building was not really about winning, it was about learning about each other. I certainly learned that the Thinker was a perfect fit for their role as a Project Manager where the devil is in the details and it also reinforced a bit about me as well – the Doer rushes to the conclusions which are not always the right ones.

Learning about the different styles, hopefully lets us appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of each. If we take a few minutes and do a bit of introspective thinking, we can probably determine which style most fits our daily lives. With this in mind, we can then view others by their dominant styles and interact with them accordingly.

I appreciate both the Innovators and the Thinkers for their strengths and definitely want both of them on my team because they have valuable traits that are needed to provide the creative complex thinking and the detailed steps so that nothing is forgotten as we get the job done.  This last is the Doer’s specialty and I will share with you more about my predominate style under stress next week. I think I will call that post “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”