Attitude Adjustment, Character Correction

Justice 10/23/2019

I was asked for help on a project, and I didn’t have a good attitude about it. I had something else I wanted to do and didn’t want to burn daylight assisting in another area.

It is easy to correct my son when he gets a poor attitude. It is easy to call anybody else out on this when I see it. But if somebody would have called me out here, I would have denied it and been wrong for it. In truth, my attitude needed an adjustment.

Continuing on in this manner, I doubt the person would ask for my help in the future. That would hurt, because I want to be called on when needed. But what I was doing was not helping my credibility. Would I want someone else’s help who would only give it grudgingly? Not a chance.

Having a poor attitude is direct reflection on my character. I believe I have a strong work ethic, but nobody is going to want that kind of negative baggage even with positive results. I know I wouldn’t. I would rather just do it myself.

So today, I am going to reflect on my attitude and how it impacts my character. If I am serious about being a positive role model for not only my son but for those I come into contact with, I am going to monitor this in the future and make the necessary adjustments.

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. –Albert Einstein

Supporting Role

Last week, I moved back to the assembly line due to a delay on my current project. This has been a challenge as I have not worked on the line in about a year. The greatest challenge is adapting physically to the demands of the job. The transition from an eight hour day mostly behind a computer to ten-plus hours building cars has left me eagerly anticipating my next foam rolling session.

One of the jobs I have been assigned is a subassembly task. For two and a half hours, it is my responsibility to prepare parts and deliver them to the main assembly line. It is viewed by some as one of the easier jobs on the line. There are no risks of getting a defect for poor quality, but there is a risk of not having enough parts to the line at the right time. I have done this job twice, and both times I have been amazed by how much pressure there is to move as fast and efficiently as possible. I take every job I do seriously, and the same applies to this one. Not getting the parts to the line can stop production, which is costly. Associates have to work harder to get the line moving again. The longer the line is down, the greater the chances of all of us not being able to meet the target production number. When we don’t hit our goal, we have to stay later to make it up. Even this “easy” job is important.

I didn’t imagine going back to the line. For the last four years, I have been on projects preparing for the future. I always imagine how I can move up in a company, but now I am back where I began seven years ago. It is a humbling experience but also a reminder. I work at the pleasure of this company. I go where the management tells me to go. They are the ones that pay me, and so I do what is required.

I remember completing Infantry Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After eight weeks, my platoon was informed of our future. Even though we scored high on our entrance tests to the military, we were not the smart ones. We all went in with open infantry contracts, and now we were all going to be mortarmen.

When I found out I was going to be a mortarman, I was devastated. It is not what I imagined I would be doing as an infantry soldier. I wanted to be in the front, a light fighter. Instead, I would be in the back supporting them instead. I still had a chance. I could go to light unit. After four weeks of mortar training, I received my job assignment. I would be going to Fort Stewart, home to the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized). I would not be a light fighter, I was going to support a heavy Armor unit.

I wanted the glory and the action. I wanted to jump out of airplanes and helicopters. I wanted to ruck through the jungles and sleep on the ground. Instead I was sent to the back and given an armored vehicle that offered no protection. Even my platoon sergeant told me it would be safer to jump out and run if we ever saw the enemy.

It was not what I imagined when I joined the Army. I became disillusioned and did not appreciate the responsibility I had been given. I was to provide fire support for scouts and tankers that got into a jam and needed help. It was my duty to make sure the ones on the front lines got out okay. Of course I did my job, but I never really embraced it.

How you do anything is how you do everything. –Bedros Keuilian

As I work supplying parts to the line this Bedros Keuilian quote keep playing in my mind.  I have a clear picture of what my future looks like and the person I am working on becoming. Everything I do is significant. If I do something half-way in my personal life, I will not reap the full rewards that I desire. I don’t want to leave any stones unturned in my private life. Publicly and professionally, my dedication should be the same way. I have to be able to grind it out, work smart and efficiently, and all with a good attitude.

What the Army taught me, and what I am appreciating now, is that there is much honor in serving others. I don’t have to be in the front. I don’t even have to be doing the things I imagined. Being in a supporting role is important. Others are depending on you. Others are also watching you. They will notice when you have a poor attitude and are despondent. It will show in the quality of your work. They will also notice when you are positive and committed to doing a good job. They will see your hustle and maybe even admire your example, inspiring them to perform with equal intensity. As a servant to the mission and your team, you will be leading.

Regardless of the role in which you find yourself remember, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Your Best Personal Defense

When are you most vulnerable to attack?

I spend much of my time trying to prepare my personal defenses. I want to actively put myself into position where a personal attack against me is not possible.That means I need to be physically strong, mentally strong, and of course spiritually strong. Compromising your character is out of the question. Your name, which is your most valuable asset, has to be impregnable.

When am I my weakest? When am I most easily attacked? When does the enemy, all those outside influences seeking to do you harm, have the greatest opportunity to strike. The enemy attacks when your mind is at it weakest.

Marcus Aurelius said, “You have power of your mind – not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.” You are weakest, when you lose control over your mind. When are you susceptible to losing that control? It is when you are angry. It is hard to be angry and think straight. It is hard to make rational decisions in anger. This is when you are at your weakest. This is when you are vulnerable to attack. Remember your character is on the line. Your name is on the line. Hold the line! Do not become a victim of your own stupidity.

My son:

A city breached and left defenseless are those who do not control their temper. -Proverbs 25:28

10 Minutes of Coaching

Alec wrestling

I love driving my son to wrestling practice. The drive provides about 10 minutes of coaching. Often the same topics are covered, today was different.

I asked Alec, “What are we going to do today in practice?” Alec’s response was automatic: Listen and Pay Attention. Listening and paying attention are his two biggest goals for each day at school. It is really hard to get into trouble, especially at school, when this is your focus. As our conversation continues, we also cover the following topics:

  • Do the work
  • Keep your head up
  • Have a good attitude
  • Have fun

Listen and Pay Attention

Obviously this applies to the coach.  How else are you going to learn, but from your coach/mentor/teacher? As I attend these practices, I am amazed at the patience of the coaches. They are trying to turn these kids, from 5-11 years old, into wrestlers. Very few of the children have the ability to sit and listen to the instruction. Very few have the ability to just sit still. The ones listening are able to take in so much more of the content. At this stage, it just might make the difference in each child’s success.

You need to listen and pay attention to your opponent, as well. This means using more than just your ears. You need to read him. How is he standing? Does he have patterns that can be recognized and exploited? What is his body language? Is he having a good day or even a good attitude? Is he cautious or careless? Does he listen and pay attention?

This is a lot of information for a five year old to grasp. But these lessons are not just for wrestling, they are lessons he can utilize throughout his life. He will not be five forever.


Do the Work

When it comes to the drills and the exercises, we have to do the work. What Alec is lacking in experience, he is making up through hard work. It is not easy. The attention span and work ethic of these youngsters is sporadic at best. Trying to keep them drilling the whole time is a chore. Continuing to do push-ups, when the others are not. is a task easily accomplished.

There is a deep principle here, one of fortitude and determination. How do you keep going, even when you are the only one? How do you keep pushing, even when you do not feel like it? Discipline. It is not something that is inherited. It is forged when no one else is looking. It is developed when you keep working despite your feelings. This is discipline. This is doing the work. Consistent behaviors equal consistent results.


Keep Your Head Up

Drop your head in wrestling, and you give your opponent an advantage. You will not be able to see what is happening. You won’t be able to react to what your opponent is doing. Drop your head, and you allow yourself to be controlled by another.

This is another lesson we have been working on with Alec. He has a tendency to drop his head when he hears something he doesn’t want to hear. He drops his head when he doesn’t get his way. It used to be a minor annoyance. In time, my wife and I would get frustrated with this small act. Now, it is a lesson.You will never get what you truly desire by dropping your head. You cannot continue to fight from this submissive position. You cannot maintain control when your head is down.

This is something I started working on several years ago and continue to work on today. When I shake hands with another, I ensure I am making eye contact. I view it as a matter of respect. By looking away with eyes averted, I feel like I am not giving the respect due to the other person.

I do this also when I am running. I used to wave at motorists in my neighborhood but not make eye contact. In my mind I was thinking, “ Yeah I’m running. It’s tough. I can’t focus on you. I gotta keep my eyes straight ahead.” Maybe it is something the Army taught me. Eyes forward. This is not a joy run. We are out here doing work. This might be why it took me another 15 years after the Army to enjoy running. Now when a car passes by, I wave and try to keep eye contact. Maybe I am trying to send a message, “I am out here getting after it, and I am enjoying it. Why don’t you join me next time?”


Have a Good Attitude

When Alec’s attitude changes, it is very noticeable. This goes along with keeping his head up. Even more so when it comes to doing the work. On occasion, there are mini challenges where the winner will watch the loser do push-ups. In the beginning, he would get upset because he got rolled over and as result would be the one pushing. He would want to get up, but he knew he had to do the work. Now that he is winning more challenges, he is doing the push-ups with the boy he just beat.

I love to watch people who genuinely have a good attitude. It is truly hard to hold a grudge against them. Their attitude is infectious. Their attitude inspires me to do better. Adversity is coming for all us. Our ability to handle it will determine the outcome. I’m reminded of the quote, “Was it a bad day, or was it a bad 5 minutes that you milked all day?” – unknown. I know I have been guilty of it. One little insignificant thing, that won’t make a difference in the long run, can set me off in the wrong direction. If I am not self-aware, my day can be ruined. And for what? Whatever it was, probably wasn’t important.


Have Fun

When I asked Alec what else we need to do, he responded with, “have fun.” It might be something I tend to forget, but the concept is not lost with him.  We are trying to accomplish many things with wrestling. But what it is all worth, if we are not having fun? I’m so happy that Alec did not lose sight of this fact. He is not being forced to wrestle. He is doing it, because he wants to. If it is not fun, then there is very little value in doing it.

There are many ways to have fun wrestling. He can go out there and play around. Several kids are doing that at every practice.  Those behaviors have consequences. Don’t do the work, and you struggle. Don’t do the drills, and another kid is going to wipe the mat with you.

To really have fun wrestling, you have to be competitive. You have to win. In order to win, you have to do the work. Some are naturally talented and can have some success solely on talent. The rest of us close the gap through hard work. In the event, you are naturally talented and put in the work, you will be nearly unstoppable. Elite.