“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life, you will have been all of these.”
-George Washington Carver (1864–1943)
Inventor, agriculturalist, educator, and former slave
I was talking with one of my new friends today via email. She is one of the many people that God has brought across mine and Lisa’s path as we have traveled from town-to-town. Lisa and I will both tell you that meeting new people is one of our favorite parts of what we do. This young lady has quickly become one of those special friends to us. In the conversation with my friend, she mentioned a workplace issue that she was having to deal with–a negative attitude.
I will tell you that there are times that I walk into hospitals, churches, and even homes where the front door hasn’t even shut and you can here the sucking noise. It’s the sound of life being sucked from within by someone’s poor attitude or negative outlook. It only takes one person with a pitiful attitude to turn the whole organization on its ear.
I have been a part of teams and institutions where the success of the whole body was limited by one person’s inability to move beyond their bitterness and to turn their attitude. Carver’s quote above is so perfect. Not to sound too cliche but life is what you make it. If you believe this to be true, then the question that follows is, “Why am I allowing someone else to steal my joy?”
Why, indeed? Why let the crazy driver, the noisy neighbor, the disorganized co-worker or the teammate who is a bad sport keep you from enjoying the day? I’m not crazy. I know its hard. If it were easy, I wouldn’t waste my time blogging about it. But I believe that the first thing that helps in changing our attitude about the person with the bad attitude is to put ourselves in their shoes, to walk where they walk.
You and I may never know what causes someone to approach the day with such negativity. But we can be part of the solution and part of the healing. It begins by asking (and really listening), “Is there something I can do for you?”
The Native Americans have an interesting word for “friend” I am told. It literally means “one who walks in another’s moccasins.” Attitudes can change. You can help. But whatever the attitude is that remains, you alone control your outlook on things. Don’t let others dictate how you view the world around you, the blessings given to you and the opportunities that await you. As Carver said, “…someday in life…” That someday may be sooner than you think. And you too will need the concern of others.