Posts Tagged ‘attitude’

Attitude Determines Destiny

January 30, 2013

Attitude determines direction. Direction determines destiny. Therefore, attitude determines destiny.

More and more, I am coming to realize that our attitude (a term commonly used by motivational speakers to describe our predisposition, the underlying and seldom-questioned presuppositions, and general focus of our being) determines the direction we take. If we expect positive results, and act in accord with that presupposition, we more often get positive results; if we expect negative, we get negative. And the process is self-replicating: More positivity breeds more of the same; more negativity leads to a downward spiral.

I just finished reading a book that brought that to the fore in my realizations more clearly than I had ever verbalized it. The book is titled The Brother of Jesus: The Dramatic Story & Meaning of the First Archaeological Link to Jesus & His Family by Herschel Shanks & Ben Witherington III (2003). It is a well-written book (each writer writes half), based on the discovery around the year 2000 of an ossuary [a limestone burial box] inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” The authors do an excellent job of making their case, Herschel considering the archaeological authenticity and Ben focusing on the theological and historical authenticity and the ramifications they imply.

At the end of the book, Ben makes the point that historically there have been three primary stances on the relation of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and James that have been associated with major religions [it would take too long to explain these adequately, and is not relevant to my point here], and that, if indeed this box is authentic, only one can be true. In addition, he asserts that early on, the correct view got preempted with the incorrect ones over several centuries by biased agenda that church leaders came to the table with and consequently skewed the data and even falsified it in some cases.

This was a huge insight for me—not theologically, but internally. We have been dealing with issues in trying to take our business to the next level, and a few days ago, I had come to the realization that one of the key points in how we were differing was based on our prior assumptions. If we assume that a particular employee is self-serving, cutting corners, and scamming the company, then we look for data to back that up. If, to the contrary, we assume that he has the company’s best interests at heart, we look for data to back that presupposition up.

And we do that in all of life. John Eldredge, in his book Waking the Dead, indicts the present-day manifestations of most forms of Christianity for assuming that our hearts are evil, based on a few scriptures like Jeremiah 17:9. The result is a negative, self-flagellating form of Christianity that discourages almost everyone, including the one practicing it. However, to take the opposite position, if we assume that, when we are “born again” our hearts are renewed (having had the old, dead “heart of stone” taken out and replaced with a renewed “heart of flesh” per scriptures like Ezekiel 11:19 & 36:26), then we believe we can actually do good works without being duplicitous or hypocritical, that we can live a life of joy and expectancy, that life is worth living, and passion is worth having.

In a word, where you start determines where you finish. And how.

Motivational speakers sometimes ask, “What would you do if you believed you could do anything?” Definitely food for thought. What we more often ask ourselves is, “Why can’t I get through the day?” And the answer is that we see a metaphorical Great Wall of China, a Mount Everest, before us.

I heard tell of this recently from a guy well-on in years who moved into our area a few years back, took on the chairmanship of a newly-created visionary organization focused on where our county could be in 2025 (www.PickensVision2025.org), and was promptly told by locals that there was no way he could raise large sums of money. He (and others who believed) raised over $100K, some of which is still being used to operate on today—and it is time to take that too to a new level.

Maybe it’s not always true, but if I believe the worst, most of the time that’s exactly what I get. Conversely, if I believe the best is possible and worth pursuing, at least I’m far more likely to make it happen. I’m reminded of a small-town service-station attendant (in the days when there was no self-service) being asked by two different couples at different times what the new town they were moving to was like. In each instance, he asked them what the town they came from was like. The first couple described it negatively, the second positively. He told each, “That’s what you’ll find here, I’m sure.”

We carry our own baggage with us for the journey we’re on.

Jesus, in His image of separating the sheep from the goats, bases the judgment of their response to His attempts to move them on their attitudes toward those who unknowingly represented Him. Each side either saw or didn’t see Him in the poor, naked, needy people who came their way, and were judged accordingly. Interestingly, neither had at the time recognized Him in them—but their predisposition to be looking for Him (even in “the least”) was telling.

Attitude determines destiny. We go toward what we focus on.

Where are YOU pointed? What are YOU focused on? It matters.

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Some Mistakes Endear Us

January 29, 2013

A few days ago, my stepson texted me to let me know he had made a serious and potentially dangerous mistake on the job. He had dropped a piece of metal strut through a knockout into a live 480/277-volt electrical panel. Fortunately, the piece blew itself off the lug and welded onto the metal can housing the panel, and no one was harmed, nor was any equipment damaged. A little time and peace of mind was lost, and the piece of metal ruined—but that is peanuts compared to what could have happened. (He had previously had cardboard on top, but had moved it for some reason and neglected to put it back.) At first he was hesitant to share with the foreman (who was away at the time) and cleaned it up.

But because he has seen me make serious and sometimes costly mistakes (one that cost our company insurance $16K when the entire gross on the job was only $5K; another where I drilled into a water line and damaged the customer’s drawings which had to be presented the next day, causing him to spend the night re-configuring, and costing us over $1K for his time), he was willing to tell me. (And after sharing the first comment below via text and speaking with him shortly thereafter, he did go on to tell the foreman, who in turn told me some of the mistakes he had made.)

Almost immediately, I had a thought: Sometimes our mistakes make us memorable to those who care about us, give them compassion, free them to share their own mistakes, and ultimately create positive memories as they bond us together. I made a very costly mistake a few years back based on bad judgment of someone’s character, and we are still re-couping. And just yesterday, our bookkeeping department found out (after agonizing calculations) that we had overcharged a customer about 3% on a huge job, which we are crediting back on the next invoice, along with an honest explanation of why.

Ultimately, we will be known by at least two things: our successes, especially in relationships; and our mistakes. But sometimes what appears to be a mistake can be a blessing in disguise—consider, e.g., “Seward’s Folly,” the purchase of territory which is now Alaska, surely a blessing to the USA in many ways. King David’s mistake of adultery with Bathsheba (and murder of her husband Uriah) gave us Solomon, who comparatively for his day was probably wealthier than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined, and whose wisdom is beyond legendary; the Lord even gave Solomon a special nickname, Jedediah (“beloved by Yah”), and David’s subsequent humility was another blessing, resulting in many of the Psalms being written (notably Psalm 51).

And the mistakes of others can allow us to forgive, which is a blessing of release of bitterness: As someone has wisely said, “Holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Bitterness undealt-with will eat away at us like battery acid, and can ultimately kill us.

It can be argued that not all mistakes are blessings, and I think that may be true on a microcosmic scale. But from an eternal perspective, they must somehow all be blessings, since “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NAS) And the Old Testament patriarch Joseph was able to tell his brothers his matured perspective on their perfidy in selling him into enslavement in Egypt, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20 NAS) Even the devil serves God’s purposes, albeit unwillingly and unintentionally—as in the case of Job’s trials and both Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness and his betrayal by Judas, to bring about salvation through the crucifixion—surely one of the greatest travesties in history.

The greatest determiner on the microcosmic scale is whether we can somehow advance toward the macrocosmic—whether intentionally or not, over time, and in light of eternity. How we view mistakes determines whether they are good or bad, beneficial or harmful, in the short term.

So how are you viewing your mistakes? How about those of others?

I told the bookkeeper, “It’s NOT a mistake. It’s a chance to operate ethically and do what is right. Ultimately, it will bring in MORE business, not less.” And I truly believe that.