Commentary Search

Take the growl out of your life

  • Published
  • By Col. Donald Adams
  • 90th Maintenance Group commander
An unknown author once stated, "When you feel dog tired at night, it may be because you've growled all day long."

How often do you find yourself growling all day, and why are you growling? Of course, this growling is directly connected to your attitude. How is your attitude?

How do you approach each day? Are you the eternal optimist, or do you focus on the negative side of life?

Earlier in my career, long before there was an Air Force Global Strike Command, a great friend pulled me aside and said, "Don, why are you always so negative? Nothing is ever good enough for you, and you find fault with every thing or person you encounter."

The discussion continued for more than three hours as I gave excuse after excuse of why my attitude was justified. With every argument I made, my friend held up the mirror and forced me to see who I really was.

Wow, was I floored.

I had always thought of myself as a fairly decent guy to be around. No one had ever told me otherwise. After I got over the hurt of finding out I was not as perfect as I thought I was, I went off by myself and took a hard look at who I had become.

It was an event which truly changed my life. The change did not happen overnight, but I made a vow to myself that I was going to change my attitude. I first had to change how I dealt with other people.

I have always been fiercely loyal to my friends. Once you are my friend, you have to work hard to lose that title. Even bad-mouthing my Auburn Tigers won't do it.

My problem, though, was with people I didn't like. If I didn't like you -- and it didn't matter why -- you could do nothing right in my eyes. I turned to Abraham Lincoln for advice.

He said, "I don't like that man. I must get to know him better."

That is exactly what I did. I made an honest effort to get to know everyone I encountered, especially those I did not like. What I found almost immediately was once I got to know people, I had more in common with them than I thought. And, that made it easier to be friends, or at least not enemies. I also had to change the way I dealt with situations.

As my friend implied, I was a "glass-half-empty" kind of person. I had to train myself to focus on the positive aspects of situations, which was no easy change.

One of Foster's Laws -- I have no idea who Foster is, but it is a great quote -- is, "The only people who find what they are looking for in life are the fault finders." I was extremely successful according to Foster's Law.

I found that as I started to look for the positives, my overall attitude improved and not in a small way. Not only did I find everyday situations easier to deal with but I felt better physically.

As I said earlier, my life has changed. Although I still struggle from time to time and find myself slipping back into the old negative attitude -- the Maintenance Group staff will probably tell you I still growl more than I should-- I think I look at the world in a much more positive manner these days.

What do you do to keep your attitude positive? What kind of things cause damage to your attitude? How do you compensate? Who motivates you? For me, it is our maintenance teams preparing to go to the field every day.

However you answer these questions, I challenge you to do so in a positive manner and take the "growl" out of your life.