Commentary by Chief Master Sgt. Brad Shirley
50th Operations Group superintendent
After 28 years of service, I can honestly say the one factor I see making the biggest difference when it comes to the success or failure of mission or people is without question, attitude. So what makes it so powerful? My belief is that attitudes are contagious. The positive or negative energy we radiate is easily absorbed by those around us and can impact morale or the completion of a task or goal.
Attitude has several definitions; however, the one I feel that has game-changing impact in everything we do is from Webster’s dictionary, “A state of mind or feeling.” Positive, negative, success or failure, your state of mind, or to put it another way, how you approach things, will determine the outcome of everything in your life and has monumental impact on everyone and everything involved. How many professional organizations, such as sports and military, have you seen fall from grace because of turmoil within the team? Turmoil usually started from the attitudes of those involved and it did not just impact the individuals, it impacted the team. I find it interesting that many of those teams have found success and synergy by making simple yet impacting changes. Motivation, rededication to the team or removal of a bad seed can do wonders for a team’s state of mind.
What drives such attitude success? First and foremost is the decision to have a positive attitude. As an old adage states, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” If you want to go places in your life and career, keep a positive attitude. The next step to attitude success is ingrained in every professional no matter their craft and was best stated by John Adams in 1761, “Practice makes perfect.” Yes, you must practice positive attitude and behavior. Always do the best you can at what is in front of you and never quit. Remember, a positive attitude will produce positive results. Although the results may not be what you expected, in the end, you will either conquer it or learn from it. That’s success. That is making a difference.
I learned the real influence of a positive attitude as a young master sergeant stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Master Sgt. Bill Christy taught me that lesson. A short and stocky seasoned senior NCO with hands that could turn a piece of coal into a diamond and a smile and demeanor that said with a gentle touch, “Hello my friend.” Sergeant Christy would always greet me with a smile and handshake. The first few times I was leery, expecting something to follow like an opportunity to excel comment. That was not him; he didn’t have to say anything else. His positive attitude created a culture where people asked him what they could do to help. Sergeant Christy was approachable, which led to a great work environment and people who were willing to go the extra mile.
Can we all be as upbeat as Sergeant Christy? Maybe or maybe not; however, this is for certain, you cannot get there if you don’t try. Remember your attitude impacts your performance and the attitudes of those around you. Don’t let negative attitudes infect you, your unit or ultimately your mission. Be sure you are spreading positive energy for others to catch. That simple smile, handshake, high-five or hello can be contagious and will not only lift the spirit of others; it will lift yours as well. Make a difference, be positively contagious.