Everyone has someone in their life that always cheers them up, no matter what kind of mood they are in. I am fortunate to have several people like that, but the story I want to share today is about my friend Steve Townsend. Steve is one of those people that can make your day, even when he is 300 miles away (literally). Steve offered me some great advice throughout my college career, but the best advice he gave was ironically written in a note taped under my desk. When Matt Lubrano was cleaning out his desk during my first day as SBP, Matt found a note from Steve written for a future Student Body President. It read:
Steve was right- time certainly did fly by. College went so fast, to be honest. But let’s focus on that last word for a second: Smile (We’ll save the “stay humble” line for another blog post).
I am happy that I had someone that would write a note under my desk and occasionally call and remind me to smile and look on the bright side of things. I read a book once called “Change the Way You See Everything,” a super-quick read (maybe an hour at absolute tops) that I strongly encourage everyone to check out. It talks about how, everyday, you can choose to look at the glass half-full or half-empty, and that decision dictates your entire day. This positive, optimistic outlook on life is called ABT, short for Asset-based thinking. The book argues that to live a life of ABT, you must always keep a Positive Mental Attitude, or PMA.
Of course, keeping a PMA is, at times, hard. There are many situations when it is hard to think of the positives in a given situation; it is those toughest moments in life when we see who the real optimists are.
Why should you keep a PMA? I want you to read the story below. I know it is a little long, but it is well worth the read. In the following story, it is clear why people want to be like “Michael,” who is a clear believer in ABT and keeps a PMA even through the toughest of situations. And you can be just like Michael, too. I know it is hard, but at the end of the day, being positive is one of the best attributes anyone can have. Just remember to “Smile.”
Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”
He was a natural motivator.
If an employee was having a bad day, Michael was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Michael and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”
Michael replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or … you can choose to be in a bad mood.
I choose to be in a good mood…..
Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or…I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.
Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or… I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”
“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.
“Yes, it is,” Michael said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life.” !
I reflected on what Michael said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.
Several years later, I heard that Michael was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.
After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Michael was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. I saw Michael about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.
“The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter,” Michael replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or…I could choose to die. I chose to live.”
“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.
Michael continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘he’s a dead man’. I knew I needed to take action.”
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Michael. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. ‘Yes, I replied.’ The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Gravity’.”
Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”
Michael lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude… I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~Matthew 6:34.
After all, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday!