I wanted to publish this blog so badly but it’s taken me forty something years to understand the importance of attitude. I feel comfortable discussing it now because I needed to learn and understand the effects of my attitude.
My friend Keisha would always tell me, “…you gotta kill them with kindness”. I believed her but I didn’t think I was capable and I did not want to be a “punk”.
If you’re kind, it doesn’t mean you’re a punk.
In my militant Morgan State mind, I always thought it was weak to be kind. Let me explain where that originates. Black males are always dealt a higher level of criticism, our ideas are never good enough, we’re always expected to fail because most of the time, we are set up to fail. I call it the “Obama Syndrome”, no President Obama wasn’t the first black male to experience a blanket scrutiny but in the highest position in the country, it’s easier to see a bias during his term unlike we’ve witnessed in the past. Black males don’t get the benefit of a doubt, another chance or an adequate level of support or fair consideration of the circumstances. We aren’t a part of the good ole boy club and don’t have any relatives that can get us access. We may be able to get a reference but for the most part, anytime you start of job, you’re starting from the bottom of the hill with no shortcuts to the top. Thinking back, it was hard for me to react with kind intentions, with that culture of bias. Let me say, kind is not the right word to convey what I mean. Being professional, positive, less sensitive or a little less confrontational, may be what I mean.
Over the last two years I have been working in a position that was inherently contentious. I was dealing with rigid personalities and negatively reactive support. I’m not complaining, I’m use to it, it was the typical scenario I faced and you will face. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last.
The only difference in the past two years was how I reacted to it. In the past, those circumstances always invited a frustration or impatience that exuded in attitude and actions, but in the last two years I didn’t carry that frustration with me. I just did my job and helped everyone as much as I could. I tried to always be pleasant, positive and a team player. I’m not tap dancing and smiling all the time, I just do the job, get my money and be bigger and better than any nonsense. There were some significant challenges, small people testing me but I just kept focusing on my goal. I always just kept my attitude positive and it was reflected in my actions. When a shady email came across my screen, I had the reservation to just not respond. I would respond only a few times with a strategic email but nothing like I did before. In the past, I would respond and embarrass myself and my team. I would find myself in my managers office trying to justify my actions. Well…I didn’t have to visit my manager in the past two years and most times, someone else was defending my actions. Over time in this role, I found people supportive because I wasn’t the angry black dude. I was the team player with the great attitude. I had never been him before and I liked it. Well…I’m leaving this position because someone from another division sought me out. They heard I had a “Great attitude” and would be an asset to the team. ME?! (Looking side to side) The two years of being positive paid off. Both of my managers came to me and said, “I support you moving on, you’ll do great.” I was blown away, one manager said, “If it doesn’t work out just call me and I’ll find a position here for you.” WHAT?! …that has never happened in my life. I’m not saying that I can’t return to any of my positions but my value was never made so clear to me.
So I’m sharing this because I wasn’t kind, I was positive, stayed away from gossip and did the best I could without falling into the angry black man stereotype. Don’t be angry. I mean why?!…you have a job, you can buy nice things, take care of your family and enjoy life. Why fight with people, black or white, that are unhappy in their lives, why give their misery company. Being positive doesn’t mean being a punk or a sell out. You can avoid drama and reinvent your reputation and be seen as a person that wants to succeed.
There’s a few sayings that are relevant here;
“Life is 10% something happening to you and 90% how you handle it”
” Watch your thoughts, they become words, watch you words, they become your actions”
For the first time in my life I can control…as I’m typing this another statement rings in my head;
“He who angers you, controls you”
That’s what I mean, when you don’t respond to the nonsense and you stay above the pettiness, things come easier.
“A bad attitude is like a flat tire, if you don’t change it you’ll never go anywhere.”
“Your attitude is like a price tag, it shows how valuable you are.”
Ps. The instagram photo is of my goodbye card, my old manager signed it saying, “Robert, I’d wish you luck but you’ll be successful wherever you go.”