“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?” – Captain Jack Sparrow
I can remember like it was yesterday having coffee at our house on a Saturday morning a little over 10 years ago – December 8, 2004 to be exact. It’s memorable because one of our closest friends and the best man in our wedding was in town visiting my wife Lynn and I; and he was there because it was a special birthday (one of those every ten year one’s) for Lynn. But the memories did not stop there.
In the weeks leading up to that Saturday morning I was quite irritated, something that occurred often back then as I was still in the very early days of my leadership journey. And the target of my angst was my boss who almost always seemed to take the hit anytime I chose to hang out in the proverbial drama triangle. As you can imagine, the irritation flowed over into morning coffee with Lynn and our friend. The words could not come fast enough to describe my disappointment with my boss and I had all the evidence to prove my point(s) to my captive audience. Many minutes into my rant the phone rang (we still had a house phone back then) and I answered. It was for Lynn and that was a good thing as it allowed me to get back to my then well-deserved place in life of being both a victim and persecutor. Before I could get started my friend jumped in and asked who in the world would call at such an early hour on a Saturday morning. I told him it was my boss and that he was “just” calling to wish Lynn a happy birthday. Silence.
It’s hard, and probably not appropriate in a blog, to describe what happened next. What I can assure you is I was no longer doing the talking. The story goes that my friend had actually been working in a very toxic work environment. He had never even met his boss let alone the owner or president of the company (my boss was both) yet felt their wrath on a daily basis. And boy did he lay into me as this was not the first time he had experienced the caring side of my organization. Perspective – attitude adjusted.
Roll the clock forward and it was deja vu all over again. A few weeks back I spent a couple of glorious days with some active officers and team members from one of our armed forces groups, Special Forces to be specific. On the evening of the first day, 5 of us went for a long dinner that included 2 sr. officers and their spouses. While we had a bunch of fun, there was also plenty of eye opening, humbling stories as both of these gentlemen had deployed a combined 20+ times. There were some moments where I just couldn’t get my head around what they were sharing and I found my heart going out to their wives and children. And in those moments all my “problems” became so trivial and seemed to just wash away. It was like being right back in my living room 10 years ago only this time the reality of it all was amplified ten times over. Perspective – attitude adjusted.
By definition, attitude is the way we think and feel toward people, places and things; a feeling or way of thinking that effects our emotions, mental state and behaviors based on what we believe. And the truth is seeing is not always believing, however when we believe something to be true, we tend to see it.
Today I believe I have the best boss on the planet and he’s the same boss I had 10 years ago. Not only is he my boss but now also one of my dearest friends. As Winston Churchill said, “attitude is a little thing that can make a big difference.”