Own your attitude

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Maurice James
  • Command Chief, 59th Medical Wing
Every day is a gift; it's called the present. This gift is comprised of 86,400 seconds. How are you using them? Are you whining and complaining about what you don't have and all of the challenges you are facing? Or are you putting on a positive attitude and trying to find solutions?

A couple weeks ago, I was speaking with a few Airmen about some of the challenges we are facing in our Air Force. I heard some very germane inputs from these soon-to-be NCOs but one of the biggest concerns was with leadership.

They told me they want leadership that leads from the front. They want leaders who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty right alongside of them; leaders who are physically fit and who look the part; leaders who will provide honest feedback on their efforts, not florid observations that do nothing to challenge and help them continue to grow and develop as leaders.

They want leaders who don't hesitate to tell them like it is and how it should be. They want leaders who will reward them when they do well but who are also willing to be firm when needed and hold them accountable when necessary. They want clear standards set and they want those standards applied across the board for everyone. They're tired of seeing people who continue to violate our standards and core values; and are particularly tired of seeing weak and non-engaged leaders stand by and do nothing about it. The bottom line is they want leaders who'll show them what it really means to be a leader and all-around good NCO.

Afterward, one of the Airmen stayed behind and queried me on how I stay motivated with all the challenges I face every day. He allude that I always seemed to be positive, with a good attitude, and did not seem to let anything bother me. And he was very curious as to how I did this.

I shared with him what I've believed for a very long time - no one can control your attitude but you. It's not rocket science, but it is a simple truth.

I shared further: don't wait for the time-off pass, the big vacation, the primo assignment, or some other enticements to be thrown your way before you can be happy. No one can make you unhappy and no one can bring you down if you refuse to be brought down.

You may be given a hard task, deployed over the holidays multiple times, or assigned to a location you'd never choose to go to. However, I still assert no one but you gets to decide how you're going to respond to these situations. You decide whether to have a positive or a negative attitude about your circumstances, and regardless of how you choose, that's the attitude you will have. So refuse to be negative!

Don't allow the actions or inactions of others to bring you down. Hang around those with a positive attitude, and try to help those with negative attitudes. Carry them as far as you can. If they catch on before you get exhausted, great. If not, cut them loose move on.

If you need help shaping your attitude, try something I do.

Each day, I wake up knowing I'm part of something greater than myself. I'm part of an organization of phenomenal Americans on the noblest of missions. We deliver world class health care to the warfighters, enabling them to advance the cause of freedom, eliminate safe havens for terrorists and their supporters, and save American and coalition lives while doing so.

How can I not be excited? I don't have the time or the desire to be distracted by negative people or attitudes. I'm the only one who gets to adjust my "attitude" lever, and I set mine on the highest setting first thing every morning.

Where do you set yours to? What will you do in the present? Your team, your Air Force, your country and your family is counting on you. Let's get after it!

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