No. 472



Someone once said, "The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." When it comes to our personal success in life, attitude is everything. A truth that I have passed along many times goes like this, "It's your attitude and not your aptitude that will determine your altitude." Unless you are talking about a brain surgeon or the equivalent, in most any endeavor you can name, give me a "C2 student with a great attitude over an "A2 student with a bad attitude every time.

Now this question please. Have you ever had an attitude adjustment? Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's quite difficult, depending on the circumstances. I got a note from a friend the other day that contained a story that will illustrate what I mean.

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious, and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got even angrier and even ruder. John, in desperation, threw up his hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he had hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arm and said, "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions.

I am sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior." John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, "May I ask what the chicken did?" Without a doubt, seeing this dead, frozen chicken in the freezer had a profound and lasting effect on the parrot's attitude.

This story reminded me of another example along these same lines. When it came time for the annual United Way drive, there was an outstanding company in this community that had always had 100 percent of their employees participate in the drive. Sometime along about the first of the year this company hired a fellow name Gus to run the shipping department. When it came time for Gus to make a commitment to participate in the annual United Way drive, he said, "I have worked for a lot of other companies and I have never participated in this type of thing, so I am not going to give." When the company president heard of Gus1 comments, he went to him and said, "Gus, if you don't participate in our United Way drive this year, I am going to fire you." When the president make his direct and forceful statement, Gus said, "I'll give." A little later a fellow employee who knew of Gus1 decision not to participate said to him, "Gus, why did you change your mind about participating in the United Way drive?" Gus said, "I had never had anyone explain it to me that way." After you have had a chance to reflect on these two stories, I believe you will agree there are some lessons that can be learned here. The reason the parrot and old Gus each changed their mind is because they were faced with an unacceptable alternative. While not as dramatic, each of us, in many ways, is also faced with unacceptable alternatives every day of our lives.

For the parrot, it was bad language and rude behavior, for Gus it was the lack of a giving spirit. What would it be for you or me that would cause us to change our behavior and our attitude? If you were a drinker, would you change your behavior if you knew there was a good chance that you would become an alcoholic? If you were a smoker, would you quit if you thought there was a good chance you would develop lung cancer? If you were a gambler, would you give it up if you thought there was a good chance you would become a gambling addict? Same for drugs, pornography and other vices that cause untold problems in the lives of millions of people each year.

If you have read my column very long you know that I don't preach to other people. This is mainly because when I point one finger there are always three pointing back at me. I just care. I want the best for every human being because we only have one life to live. I just believe with all my heart that our life should count for something. The good news is that we can choose our attitudes and our behavior and rise above our circumstances.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 720"4.)