I was an idiot
It’s not my hat he chewed.
“I’m sorry officer, I was an idiot and I’ll not do that again.”
It was a nice sunny afternoon and I was motoring along a three-lane highway with my daughter. We were driving to meet the rest of our family and my daughter had just described a situation she faced recently when the driver of a taxi she was travelling in was driving rather fast.
That’s when the blue lights started flashing behind me so I pulled over to let the officer past as he was evidently in a hurry. Unfortunately, he was in a hurry to pull me over.
Isn’t it funny how red, white and blue represent freedom unless they’re flashing behind you?
In my defence, I had simply performed exactly the same manoeuvre that the guy in front of me had performed a few minutes earlier. However, he had the benefit of not having the highway patrol car just behind him at the time. I suspect that the officer who was approaching me slowly from behind wouldn’t be terribly receptive to that line of defence, so I chose the “I’m an idiot” approach instead. Fortunately, on that occasion, we concluded our conversation with a gentleman’s agreement that I wouldn’t do that manoeuvre again, and he would let me continue my journey.
That was just after he advised me that in the State of Florida speeding was an arrest-able offence. Oh my, what a splendid example of mature, responsible driving I had managed to give to my daughter that afternoon.
I suspect that the outcome could have been quite different if I had taken a different attitude though. I’m pretty sure that using a “What about the other guy” or “Haven’t you got some real villains to catch” response might have led to a somewhat different outcome.
Whenever I think about attitude I can’t help but be reminded of a British poet and comedienne called Pam Ayers, perhaps best known for a poem entitled “Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth”. She once told a tale about a time when a dog had managed to take a bite out of some other guy’s hat. Having been chastised by him with “I don’t like your attitude”, her reply, with tongue firmly in cheek and a wry grin on her face was: “It’s not my hat he chewed!”. I think it probably falls firmly into the category of “bad dad jokes” so I usually keep that reminiscence to myself.
“It is your attitude, more than your aptitude, that will determine your altitude.”
~ Zig Ziglar
There are many quotes that share a variation of “Attitude determines altitude”, and it is interesting to reflect on the idea that we can be masters of our attitude or mastered by our attitude. It a choice. We can end up as a victim or become a victor. We can’t do much about our natural skill or aptitude to a situation, task or challenge, but we can make a massive difference in our attitude in how we engage with it.
“Aptitude gets you on the team, Attitude gets you off the bench.”
I recall a time when I was a School Governor at the school to which my children went. The Headmaster there was a guy that exhibited a fabulous attitude and I still remember it many years later. Whatever challenging circumstances came along he always had a really great attitude and seemed to find a solution to the challenge that made the result even better than before the challenge presented itself. His was a “can do” and a “we’ll find a way” attitude that was really inspiring to the entire board.
When someone has a good attitude, even when the outcome of their activity isn’t going according to plan, that can be channelled into a great outcome. I like how John Maxwell puts it in his recently released book “Developing the leader within you 2.0”:
“When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint – understand what he is trying to do – nine times out of ten he is trying to do right. As a leader, I always try to see things from two perspectives: that of the other person I’m working with and my own. I use the other person’s perspective to make a connection; then mine to give direction.”
~ John Maxwell
A good attitude can always be channelled in the right direction, and a bad attitude rarely makes progress. Progress depends less on position than on disposition, and that’s a choice we can make every day in every situation.
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.