Attitude crucial to transforming opportunity into success

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. John Hokaj
  • 32nd Flying Training Squadron
Helen Keller is credited with the statement "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." I believe the same is true of opportunities for success.
Every day we are presented with many opportunities, and as is the central theme of Helen Keller's concept, a positive attitude is the vital key. Each one of us is in complete control when it comes to our attitude.
That is not to say maintaining a positive attitude is always easy. In many ways, human nature tends to gravitate toward the negative. Many individuals will hold someone else responsible for their unhappiness or failure. Rather than recognizing their own flaws, correcting them and contributing to individual or organizational success, many take the easy road and play the blame game.
My first operational assignment was Torrejon Air Base, Spain, just east of Madrid -- a dream assignment. To my amazement, there were several members of my squadron who focused solely on the things they missed about the United States. For example, in Spain, many businesses are closed in the middle of the day, so restaurants are not normally open until 10 p.m. Because of this focus, they failed to take advantage of exploring the fascinating history of Spain. Consequently, they missed an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Additionally, their gloomy outlook had the potential to negatively affect the organization. Fortunately, a positive attitude presents just as strong a force, but it often requires more effort.
A simple reminder that every day is a great day can go a long way toward maintaining a positive attitude, but this must be done each and every day. Make the choice to see the glass as half full, or know that if the glass is half empty, you are well hydrated. Then, armed with a positive attitude you are better able to recognize the opportunities and focus on developing solutions rather than placing all of your attention on identifying the problems. This, in turn, will undoubtedly increase your probability for personal and organizational success. If you are not in a position to implement the solution, then make the time to elevate it up the chain and be willing to take the lead when directed. A positive attitude has opened a door, but it is the action of moving through the door that will bear the fruit of success.
Attitude is apparent in both words and actions. Many times your demeanor provides the first impression that can open or close a door. A simple smile, coupled with bright eyes and an upright posture present a confident, positive attitude that sends the message that you are part of the solution. Some people say "If it's not broken, don't fix it," but I believe that just because it isn't broken, doesn't mean it can't be improved. People ultimately gain more self respect and feel better about their organization when seeking and implementing solutions rather than just coasting along or identifying problems.
Air Force retired Gen. Patrick Gamble talked about opportunity as standing next to the railroad tracks as a train rolls past. If you are looking the right way at the right time, you may see an open door you can jump through. If you jump at the right time, you can successfully board the train that may lead to achieving your goal. Luck plays a small part, but a positive attitude and seeing the train as the vehicle to your success rather than a road block is the key to implementing the solution and ultimately achieving success.