Attitude is everything

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Tom Houdek
  • Aerospace Data Facility Senior Enlisted Leader
It has been widely reported over the years that a positive attitude is the number one trait for success among leaders. 

I have observed throughout my 26 years of service in the U.S. Air Force that the vast majority of leaders and mentors I have known, who have helped mold and shape me into the person I am today, radiated a positive attitude. In turn, I have always tried to share this attribute with those around me.

As I prepare to transition from active duty and look back at my career, I realize what a great opportunity I had to live and work in many different locations and meet many people of all ranks and services, military and civilian. 

From my first assignment at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, to here at Buckley Air Force Base and the Aerospace Data Facility, I've worked with many people who have done great things for our military and our nation. Each of them may have defined and exemplified success in their lives differently, but what made them so exciting and influential in my life was their positive attitude -- their zest for life. In every case, their positive attitudes defied the many challenges they had to face and overcome.

Many people have the skills and knowledge to do a great job. Skills are taught in technical schools and honed on the job. Knowledge is learned and tested through everyday events. However, only a select few earn the title of "excellence," that comes with a positive attitude. This trait grows from within and can only be strengthened through constant use. Maintaining a positive attitude, despite life's trials and challenges, is a conscious choice.

To obtain and maintain a positive attitude, you need to look within and ask yourself key questions. What are you going to do today to have a positive impact on your family, your mission, or your life? Have you helped the mission succeed or were you a hindrance to success? What can I do better next time? How does my attitude affect my self esteem, my unit, my friends and my family? Am I allowing outside influences, such as the weather, a high ops tempo or a micro-managing supervisor to affect my behavior and my attitude?

As our center's outgoing deputy commander, Col. John Wright likes to say, "you need to take a moment everyday and use the most important piece of furniture in your house, that would be a mirror, and ask yourself, 'have you done your best?'"

Attitude checks allow a positive attitude to flourish and grow. When I take stock of my attitude and honestly reflect on the answers to the above questions, I realize there is always room for improvement and my goal is to do better. Attitude is an external expression of your innermost values, beliefs and expectations.

I believe we have so much to be thankful for and be positive about, not the least of which is the opportunity to serve the greatest, freedom-loving nation on the face of the earth in the most important conflict of our time. A positive attitude is the key to winning this conflict and any other challenge we face in life. This positive attitude starts with you.

William James once said, "It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome."

You will always be faced with difficult situations, especially today as our military services face budget constraints and personnel reductions, while fighting the Global War on Terror. A positive attitude is the key to success in all challenges that come your way. While a co-worker's positive attitude may rub off on you, you must BYOPA, Bring Your Own Positive Attitude. Bring enough to share with others; you never know who is in need. 

Bottom line: A positive attitude is internal, it is infectious, and it is vital for achieving excellence in our military today. Some events will be beyond your control, but you are the only thing controlling your attitude. Remember, attitude is everything.