By Chief Master Sgt. Sean Smith, 22nd Mission Support Group superintendent
/ Published September 22, 2017
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- You can either love what you do or hate it, but it all depends on your attitude.
Colin Powell once said, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
I read this during a challenging assignment when I didn’t have the right attitude. I was a section superintendent responsible for the actions, products and well-being of 10 people. We all got along great and had a wonderful time working together, but we were not a high performing section. We were getting by, but lacked a vision on where we could be. We were stretched thin, answering new program initiatives across the full spectrum of operations.
I was repeatedly called to the commander’s office to answer for a multitude of reasons. Every phone call from the front office was accompanied by the same reaction: tense shoulders, a mumble under the breath and very short answers.
As I gathered my stuff to head to the office, I would sarcastically say, “I love my job.” I soon found myself surrounded by people I enjoyed working with, but they hated coming to work. They reflected my attitude and I had it all wrong. This was exactly what Powell discussed but in the opposite direction.
Powell’s words struck a chord.
I had to acknowledge I had been wrong in my actions. Self-reflection can often be a jagged pill to swallow, but I was determined to right the course. I called a mentor of mine for help. In not so gentle terms she told me to pull my head out of my hindquarters. She left the “how” up to me.
Based on the relationship we had established in the section, I went in and pulled everyone together. I explained what I had identified as the problem and saw them replicating it. I asked for their help to make me better. Every slip up was pizza for the office. Luckily, I only had to buy about a half dozen.
In the end, we rallied together and turned around the section. We earned an “outstanding” rating in our first Unit Effectiveness Inspection. More importantly, over a three-month timeframe, my team went from dreading coming to work and getting out of there as soon as possible to finding worth in what we were doing and collectively improving each one of our perspectives.
My team and I were able to accomplish all this by making an adjustment to our attitudes.
We can all improve and place ourselves in a better position by keeping our minds open to new ideas, taking a little time for self-reflection and being determined to be better.
It’s all about your attitude.