Attitude is everything

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Porter Smith
  • 82nd Contracting Squadron
I love the quote from the movie "Remember the Titans" where Julius tells Bertier, "attitude reflects leadership, Cap'n." 

That key turning point helped the Titan football team overcome individual differences and then pull together as one team to rise above significant challenges. They went on to accomplish great things. 

I took command of the 82nd Contracting Squadron last month, and it didn't take me long to realize that Team Sheppard has its share of tough challenges facing us all in the coming months. 

Of course there's the ORI which, for my squadron, happens to occur on our busiest week of the year when we'll focus on year-end close out and a tough inspection. Soon after we ace the inspection and have a successful year-end close out, we'll likely begin the A-76 process. 

Early in 2007 we'll begin the transition to the new National Security Personnel System. The operations tempo doesn't seem to be slowing down, so deployments will continue to be a fact of life for both the deployed troops and the families and co-workers left behind. 

And then, of course, there are the ramifications of Presidential Budget Decision 720 which continues to bring funding reductions to several contracts, force shaping and civilian cuts; it causes us to review every process we own. 

These are all tough challenges; no one will deny that. I contend that a positive outlook toward all of these challenges is a key ingredient necessary for Team Sheppard to weather this storm caused by many trials coming at us at once. 

Adversity often precedes victory. 

I am reminded of the words of Harriet Beecher Stowe: "When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you until it seems that you cannot hold on for a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." 

In today's environment, we're often forced to set our sights on "unrealistic" goals. Let's take a closer look at this word, "unrealistic." 

Was it realistic, in the early 1960s, for President John F. Kennedy to proclaim that we would put a man on the moon by the end of that decade? Fifteen years ago, was it realistic to believe that millions of people worldwide would be exchanging e-mail messages every day? Was it ever realistic to believe that a sheep could be cloned? 

As you'll probably admit, all of these things were unrealistic. And yet, all of them were accomplished. Why? Because certain people dared to dream big and took the steps necessary to bring their visions into reality. 

Take a moment to think about it. Are there any goals you have given up on or hesitate to pursue because you decided they were unrealistic? 

A positive attitude is the foundation. You can achieve something extraordinary only if you have a dynamic positive attitude and a strong belief in yourself and your abilities. 
However, with any unrealistic goal, you can bet the trip won't be all fun and games. You're going to face some tough times. 

Those who are committed have decided they are in it for the long haul - however long that haul may be. They usually have a timetable for realizing their dream, but quitting is simply not an option. That's the mindset that achieves the impossible. 

By the way, is there a chance you could embark on a challenging goal and not reach it? Absolutely. But, when you set an ambitious objective and give it your all, you are a winner and can hold your head high regardless of the end result. 

Having a positive attitude requires us to minimize our negative thoughts. In Western societies, in particular, we've developed the tendency to focus on minor irritations, even though these annoyances are only a tiny part of our overall lives. We tend to focus on the 5 percent of our lives that are going wrong instead of the 95 percent going well. 

We'll sigh and tell everyone about the traffic jam or flat tire on the way to work. Yet, we'll never comment about the miracle of our existence - the billions of cells in our body that somehow allow our brain to function, our heart to pump blood or our eyes to see. We don't appreciate that we have enough food to eat or that we have a roof over our heads, while there are millions of people who don't have these gifts. 

It's been said that positive thinking is harmful because optimistic people ignore things that can go wrong or are easily duped and taken advantage of. In other words, if you expect the sun to be shining all the time, you're just naïve and are sure to be disappointed. 

But positive thinking doesn't mean that you ignore reality or refuse to consider the obstacles that might arise. On the contrary, the positive person expects a positive outcome, but prepares for overcoming obstacles. 

Today's environment is challenging, and I believe that tomorrow's will be even more challenging. Given that reality, the only way for us to pull through is to keep a smile on our faces and face these challenges with a positive attitude.