The relationship between perception and reality is not a new concept, nor is it rocket science. There are numerous familiar quotes that remind us that attitude is everything.
- Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. ~ Albert Einstein
- Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~ Winston Churchill
- Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude. ~ Ralph Winston
- Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and actions. ~ Harold S. Ganeen
- Attitudes are more important than facts. ~ George MacDonald
- Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. ~ Thomas Jefferson
Given all of the reminders, admonitions, and encouragement, why can it be such a challenge to remain positive? Shouldn’t we know better?
I haven’t written much in the past month – largely due to a busy school schedule that has been a steady barrage of meetings, professional development, planning and evening events. My perseverance has been average, at best, as the plethora of activities and commitments has kept me struggling to maintain a positive attitude. Stress and fatigue have resulted in diminished optimism, more complaining and fewer smiles. Not good…especially as I consider the potential impact this might have on staff, students, and most importantly, my family. Without the slightest egotistic inclination, I am aware of the substantial effect my attitude has on others. The same could be said for you.
As part of my reflection on the issue of attitude, I have come to the conclusion that not only does negativity have an impact on others, but the root of the problem is often selfishness. By choosing to display a negative attitude, openly complain and generally be discontent, are we not actually asking for attention? For sympathy? For pity? As the familiar adage goes, misery loves company, and finding company is not difficult – family, friends, colleagues or even students are easily drawn into the fray.
So, bringing this back to the realm of education, we have to be diligent…remembering that we are in a profession of service and checking to ensure that our attitude doesn’t put self before others. We are all keenly aware that education (and life for that matter) is not all sunshine and flowers. Sometimes we need encouragement. We need to vent. We need to lean on colleagues. But, as Haim Ginot alludes to in his comments on the classroom environment (below), via our attitude, we possess tremendous power to do good, or inflict tremendous harm. It is our choice – one we make on a daily basis. My attitude matters. Your attitude matters. In fact, it may make all the difference.
I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized. ~ Haim Ginot