Character Education Quote of the Day

As you may recall, in our first Character Education quote, we acknowledged that our attitude is one of the three things that we can control everyday.   Today, we are going to focus solely on attitude.  In 1986, Dennis Mannering, with the assistance of Wendy Mannering, published the book Attitudes Are Contagious:  Are Yours Worth Catching?    Dennis Mannering is a successful entrepreneur, business consultant, motivational/keynote speaker, and author.  When I reflect on his quote, I’m reminded of a profound truth:  the attitude we choose to have on a daily basis impacts much more than our success—it affects the synergy and success of any group endeavor.  


As we have discussed previously, life is certainly challenging.   Quite often, we feel overwhelmed, overworked, underappreciated, mistreated, frustrated, pulled in a thousand different directions, undervalued, undercompensated, misunderstood, and pushed for time.  How can we deal with these feelings proactively and not reactively? To do this effectively, I think it is important to remember to live in the present.  Every day that we are blessed to wake up and take that first breath, we must have an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude.  This is a day that was not promised to us, and it’s a day we will never have again.  Life doesn’t have mulligans like you use in a friendly game of golf.  It’s up to us to maximize the day, even in the face of detractors and distractions.  I also believe it is important for us to remember that we are called to be selfless and not selfish.  Is it easy to keep a positive attitude every single day in the midst of trials, tribulations, and storms?  Of course, the answer is no.  However, we are to be reminded, life isn’t all about us.  Life is about glorifying Him in all that we do, and in the process, making life better for others around us.  


Not only was I a former classroom teacher, I also spent nearly 18 years of my life coaching a variety of sports, of which, basketball was probably my favorite.  One of the hardest things to do in sports is to keep the collective attitude of the team high, while also promoting selflessness.  We live in the “it’s all about me” era.  As a basketball coach, you deal with issues such as playing time, shot selection, teamwork, having the same passion on the defensive side of the ball as you do when you have the ball on offense, coming to practice with a determined focus to get better, etc…  I always thought coaching, as teaching, gave me a ministry to try and model leadership and attitude lessons for my players.  I tried to come to practice with a high energy and positive attitude.  I tried my best to let my players hear me praise them loudly.   I reminded them daily, it wasn’t just about any one of us, it was about all of us.  And when things went wrong, like a bad practice or a lost game, I took the blame for the performance.  Ultimately, as the coach, I believed it was my responsibility to get us to practice better and/or play better.   Leaders have an attitude that not only encompasses positivity and hard work, but also accountability.  


Let me give you a quick story of the cumulative effect that attitude can have over a period of time.  A few years ago, I had the privilege of coaching a basketball team with some solid talent.  To take the next step, however, I knew we had to build more synergy.  We were having a really good year, a lot of success and not a lot of adversity.  However, toward the end of the season, we had a reality check.  A game that we were winning 22-6 in the first quarter, we ultimately lost by four points.  During the game, we lost our focus, got a little silly, failed to take care of the ball, missed free throws, and ultimately lost.  As we walked off the floor, I still remember hearing someone from our stands say, “I’m okay losing a game if the other team is better, but I can’t stand losing a game because we got outcoached.”   As those words echoed in my mind as I walked into the locker room, I understood, that while it upset me a little, it was true.  Now came the moment of truth: how was I going to address my team?  I got my team to stand up together in a circle and told them I loved them and that losing that game was my fault.  I didn’t prepare them well enough or put them in the right positions to be successful.  Before I had a chance to go on, a player right beside me said, “Coach, it wasn’t your fault, it was my fault. I turned the ball over and missed too many free throws.”  The player beside him said, “Coach, it wasn’t your fault, it was my fault.  I didn’t play defense or rebound like I should have.”  It was truly amazing.  Without any prompting, every player in that huddle took responsibility for the loss, even a couple of players who didn’t even get in the game.  By the time the last player spoke, I was in tears.  My young men had finally gotten the message:  It’s about us.  From that moment on, we had a synergy that was contagious.   Because of our selfless and hard-working attitude, the sum of our parts became greater than the individual parts.  When that happens in life, you can accomplish some great things.  Ultimately, that team ended up a champion on the court, but more importantly, they had learned an important lesson for facing the challenges of life that awaited them in the future.


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