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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bring It To The Table

Photo Credit:  earl53 from
We’ve all heard that “attitude is everything” and that we should have an “attitude of gratitude.”  Isn’t that so much easier said than done?  I’ve certainly found that to be the case…day after day…year after year.  Just this morning, I was in need of an attitude adjustment.  But, it is indeed up to us to make the choice:  Will I have a good attitude or a bad one?  Attitudes are just like the flu.  They are extremely contagious.

I’m in the middle of reading Lou Holtz’s book, Winning Every Day, and one of his quotes has stood out for me:  “Your talent determines what you can do.  Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do.  Your attitude determines how well you do it.”  There’s that word again…attitude.

Here is an e-mail about attitude from Mikey’s Funnies that I think you will enjoy as well: 

Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate.  He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say.  When asked how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I’d be twins!"

He was a unique manager in that he had several waiters who followed him when he moved from restaurant to restaurant.  The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude.  He was a natural motivator.  If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling them how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it!  You can't be a positive person all the time.  How do you do it?" Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, ‘Jerry, you have two choices today.  You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.'  I choose to be in a good mood.  Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it.  I choose to learn from it.  Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life.  I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.  "Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices.  When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice.  You choose how you react to situations.  You choose how people will affect your mood.  The bottom line:  It's your choice how you live life."

I reflected on what Jerry said.  Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business.  We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.  Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers.  While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination.  The robbers panicked and shot him.  Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.  I saw Jerry about six months after the accident.  When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins.  Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place.  "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied.  "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices:  I could choose to live, or I could choose to die.  I chose to live.”

"Weren't you scared?  Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.  Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine.  But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared.  In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man.’  I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.  "Well, there was a nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything.  'Yes,' I replied.  The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply.  I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!'  Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I’m alive, not dead.’"

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude.  I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.  Attitude, after all, IS everything.

I really enjoyed that story and I hope you did, too.  I love surrounding myself with people who choose to truly live.  Just waking up each day is a gift that many of us take for granted.  We are each here for a particular purpose.  Praying about what that purpose is, is a great place to start.  And, this isn’t dress rehearsal, so we shouldn’t waste one precious moment of our limited time on earth.  It’s go time.

I’ve also heard that, “Success is more attitude than aptitude.”  And, that word strikes again!  Attitude.

Reading Lou Holtz’s book reminds me of several things.  We can choose to act or procrastinate, believe or doubt, help or hinder, succeed or fail.  Lou has a list of ten steps that cover the bases for success.  Guess what the number one item is?  Yep.  The power of ATTITUDE.    The attitude we choose to assume toward life and everything that life throws our way will determine whether or not we reach our goals and aspirations.  Remember Stephen Covey’s 90/10 rule?  10% of life is made up of what happens to us and 90% is decided by how we react.

Lou’s other steps for success include tackling adversity, having a sense of purpose, making sacrifices, adapting to change, chasing dreams, nurturing a positive self-image, fostering trust, committing to excellence, and handling others with care.

I like that last one – handling others with care.  It’s a simple step on paper.  “Treat others as you would like to be treated – with concern and care.”  But, in reality, it can be more challenging, no doubt.  Can you just imagine if we all took that one to heart…all the time…everyday?  Hmmmm…

Another thing that Lou mentioned that I absolutely love is this – We should always remember that the Lord gave us two ears and one mouth because he wants us to listen twice as much as we speak.  Yikes.  How often do we just go on and on and on?  How often do we plan what we’re going to say next while the other person is still talking?  Gulp (guilty party slowly raises hand).

I chatted with my friend, Larry, over the weekend.  He has a wonderfully positive attitude and handles others with care – two of the important steps to being a successful person.  I have yet to see him without a smile and a “can-do” attitude.  And, he is genuinely concerned about others and what they have to say.  It’s contagious.  It truly is.  I’m thankful for people like him.

Larry and I discussed how when he was growing up they would have family birthdays and to lessen the burden on the hostess, everyone would chip in and bring a dish to the gathering.  Every dish was different…just like us.  We all bring something different “to the table.”  And, that’s a good thing.

But, before we bring our dish, let’s think about what it is that we want to bring.  Do we want to bring a bad attitude, selfishness, negativity, cynicism, distrust, or mediocrity?  Or do we want to bring a good attitude, selflessness, enthusiasm, trust, love, care, and excellence?  It’s up to us.  We choose the dish.  Let’s choose carefully.  Will our dish be worth sharing?

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

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