We recently relished much-needed rain showers in Oklahoma, a welcome anomaly to the customary scorching heat that sends us indoors this time of year. I was in my car, wipers on high, when I nearly u-turned toward the radio station upon hearing, “…another dreary day for Oklahomans…” Watch out! Farmers raising livestock or hay to feed those beasts might storm the station with pitchforks. City managers making tough decisions on water regulation might call up the FCC and request a fine or two! Okay, I know this is a bit farcical. However, in matters of perspective, there should be little dispute—90% of leadership is attitude, and we must choose our attitude!
In my first job interview, at 23 years-old, I somehow realized and thankfully said, “Perspective is reality.” For our students, co-workers and administrators, the snapshots they perceive of our performance amounts to our actual performance in their eyes, regardless of what happens during the vast time we are not together. With this daunting realization in mind, we must choose our attitude.
Our task is to be consistently positive in the classroom, in the workplace and in the home. I believe humans could not survive without this positive energy, and the leader (that’s each of us!) must be that optimistic drive. The leader may be hollowed out by demands of time, by complaints both real and perceived, and by the shear energy it takes to lead. In the face of this void, the leader must choose how to be. I do not mean the leader must choose how to react to each situation. Instead, the leader must cultivate how to “be” always, constantly, without pause.
What if it’s raining outside? Be thankful for the moisture. What if one-third of a class is absent during a critical lesson? Be thankful for the improved student-teacher ratio. Last-minute fire drill? Appreciate those who value our safety. Have a blow out on the way to daycare? Thank goodness I learned how to change a tire (or diaper…ewww).
Attitude is a way of life, not a show. It describes us reliably and unchangingly, good or bad. When you, the leader, are defined, decide today what the affirming words will be!
2014 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year