• Published
  • By Col. David A. Carlson
  • 55th Maintenance Group commander
Some time ago I read an article that rated attitude as the number one trait for success among leaders. I've observed that the vast majority of leaders and mentors I've known throughout my life, those who have helped mold and shape me into the person I am today, radiated a positive attitude. Each of them may have defined and exemplified success in their lives differently, but what made them so fun, exciting and influential in my life was their positive attitude - their zest for life. In every case, their positive attitudes helped them navigate life's many challenges.

Maintaining a positive attitude, despite life's trials and challenges is a conscious choice. When I was in college, Dr. Victor Frankl's book, "Man's Search for Meaning," was mandatory reading for one of my classes. In his book, Frankl describes how his attitude and that of other holocaust survivors helped them survive the horrors of the Nazi death camps. Regarding attitude, Frankl shares the following, "...everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's own attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." If Frankl and others could control their attitude in the most oppressive of circumstances, how much easier should it be for us, given so much freedom and opportunity, to "choose our own way" - to choose our attitude.

To obtain and maintain a positive attitude, the first place you need to start is with your very own thoughts. In the book, "As a Man Thinketh," Dr. James Allen, the 19th century Englishman and father of the self-help movement says, "You yourself are maker of yourself by virtue of the thoughts which you choose and encourage; that mind is the master weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as you may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain you may now weave in enlightenment and happiness." In another quote, he states, "Mind is the master power that moulds and makes, and man is mind and evermore he takes the tool of thought, and shaping what he wills, brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills - He thinks in secret and it comes to pass; environment is but his looking glass." Bottom line: To have a good attitude, you must think about positive things.

In our current environment of much publicized negativity - sequestration, furloughs, government shutdowns and the unknown - it is important that each and every one of us occasionally accomplishes an attitude check on ourselves. Ask yourself, "How does my attitude affect my self esteem, my unit, my friends and my family?" or "Am I allowing outside influences, such as the weather, a high ops tempo, micro-managing supervisor, or negative media, that I have little to no control over affect my behavior and my attitude?" Most of the time when I take stock of my attitude, I realize that there is always room for improvement and I commit to do better.

As members of the Fightin' Fifty-Fifth, we have so much to be thankful for and positive about. The opportunity to serve the greatest freedom loving nation on the face of the earth; to be a part of a mission that is so critical to our nation's defense that flying operations continued throughout the recent government shutdown; and finally, to live in the Omaha-Bellevue community that loves and supports its military members. A positive attitude is key to achieving success in life, and a positive attitude starts with you!