The power of attitude

  • Published
  • By Mark Rauch, Facility Systems Branch Chief
  • 88th Civil Engineer Squadron

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – My career with the Air Force started back in 1984. I had the great pleasure of spending my 21st birthday on a bus with a bunch of other people heading to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. It’s a birthday, I promise you, I will never forget.

Since that time, I’ve hit all four corners of the Air Force: active duty, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, and of course, Department of Defense civilian. I’m happy to report that through every bit of it, I’ve been an Air Force civil engineer. CE is in my blood.

Over the years, I’ve seen many different versions of CE. Some good. Some bad. Some were in between. Believe it or not, I’ve spent some time thinking about what makes the difference between good and bad versions of CE. At the end of the day, I had to point my finger at me. I’m the difference.

What do I mean by that? For the most part, it comes down to expectations. My expectations. I need to have realistic expectations of my leadership, the people I work with and partners we encounter. You know the drill.

I once had a boss (not here) who supervised through yelling and screaming. What made it particularly uncomfortable was he just might be nose-to-nose with you at the time. And then there was the finger-pointing. True story. That was truly bad management.

Although there was nothing professional about his management style, I still expected him to be professional. I eventually realized that the big reason I would get upset was I held him to standards he consistently demonstrated he couldn’t meet. It was my own expectations.

The day I expected him to be exactly who he had always been, my days got easier. I began to manage my own attitude/expectations and stopped letting him do it for me. I discovered that any time I allow someone else to pick my attitude for me, they will always choose wrong.

That brings me to today. I’ve never seen that management style here, but the principle remains. The difference, in my opinion, between a good version of CE and bad version of CE has a lot to do with my own attitude – with my own expectations. For the most part, it seems to me that what is often considered to be bad management isn’t bad at all – it’s just different. It’s not what we’re used to.

The problem is that management changes, yet our expectations remain the same, and then we’re disappointed. We need to own our attitudes/expectations. Why? It’s the only thing we have any control over.

I’ll leave you with this. Chuck Swindoll says this in his book, “The Grace Awakening”: “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home.

“The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ...we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Just think about it.