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Power of a Positive Attitude

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude," Zig Zigler is quoted as saying.

Recently, while meeting with the 55th Wing's group commanders, Brig. Gen. Donald Bacon, 55th Wing commander, mentioned he was considering recognizing one of the wing's civilian gate guards for being so positive. Instantly each of the commanders knew who he was talking about - Officer Raymond Cotton, Air Force civilian police officer with 55th Security Forces Squadron. In fact, anyone who regularly enters Offutt Air Force Base has, at one time or another, been touched and inspired by Cotton's consummate positive attitude.

While many leadership experts identify a "positive attitude" as a critical commander attribute, having a positive attitude is actually something that every Airman can and should strive towards. For me, there are four C's that help keep me focused on the positive: confidence, cope, control and contagious.

Confidence is about knowing you are trained and capable of accomplishing something. As Airmen, we are members of the world's most capable Air Force. This did not just happen one morning in September 1947 when we became a service, in fact it is because of our high standards of training and commitment to excellence. Whether you're a newly minted 5 level or a civilian who has decades of experience, you're trained to be the expert at whatever it is you do. Be certain of your commitment to excellence and stand tall knowing that you will always do your best regardless of the task.

We all know it's much easier to be positive when things are going well, but unfortunately we all face challenging times at one point or another. These are often the times when seeking a positive attitude can help us cope with difficulty and uncertainty. In these situations it's important to find the positive, however, that may be challenging on your own. Try doing constructive activities and surrounding yourself with positive influences like close friends, a chaplain or your first sergeant.

While it may not be evident during tough times, one of the best things about your attitude is that you control it. Having a positive attitude is a choice we make, however, like anything else, the more you practice it the better you get at doing it. One of the simplest ways of practicing is by smiling and saying hello to people throughout the day. Who knows, that stranger you pass by with a smile and a "good morning" while getting your morning coffee in the exchange might really appreciate your positive attitude.

With that said, attitudes are certainly contagious, both negative and positive. Retired Gen. Colin Powell noted that, "perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." Constantly seeking to be positive will not only improve your attitude, but spread like wildfire throughout your unit regardless of the level where you find yourself in that organization.

So, the next time you come in the front gate and are lucky enough to have Officer Cotton check your identification, take a look around. Regardless of whether it's the middle of the night, raining, hailing, windy or sunny, you'll be touched and undoubtedly smile back when he returns your identification card with a genuine, "have a great day!" The question is, are you ready to pass it on?