01 June 2007

Attitude Adjustment

"If you could pick one thing to change about Puerto Rico, what would it be?"

I was asked that question many years ago, when I was barely out of college and sitting amongst friends in an IHOP in Hattiesburg. They hadn't seen Me for a year and what little news they had picked up about Puerto Rico had been centered on student violence (riots at the University of Puerto Rico) and political unrest.

(Just in case, IHOP is the International House of Pancakes. Probably has more autonomy than We do.)

My answer then was "The economy." In an inchoate way, I was beginning to see the complex interrelationships of My home turf, and as a young man looking at setting up a career, economics would (should) be a major concern.

Then, to My surprise, I was asked the same question earlier this week, by a young man I barely know, while surrounded by teenagers and 20-somethings I don't know. Same question, different environment, different Me. This time I said "Our attitude."

I wanted to get their attention and I did. I told them We had a negative attitude and they challenged Me on that, so I asked a few of them what their goals were. Most balked: They had no goals. I told them that was a problem of discipline and vision, not attitude. (Debatable, but I was aiming at another point.) The three that gave Me their goals gave Me relatively small ones: buy a new car, get a high-paying job before the age of 30 and pay off student debts.

When I asked them why ther goals weren't bigger, they all gave Me the same look, a What are you talking about? look that I pounced on to "show" them what a negative attitude is. To their credit, they understood almost instantly: Attitude breeds success.

Once aware of their negativity (for any number of empty and a few valid reasons), they went on to draft bigger goals: Establish a million-dollar company in 5 years; transform the use of energy in Puerto Rico; design, build and sell more efficient mini-bikes and scooters for the world's markets. It's possible that they may never reach their new and improved goals, but the attitude change will make a difference in how they act and view their role in Life from now on.

None of the problems We face is insurmountable; in fact, very few are actually difficult. It boils down to attitude as the first step. Do We really want to act to solve these problems? If the answer becomes--yes, becomes--"yes", then We can proceed and find a way to make a positive change happen. But if Our attitude remains stuck in "ho-hum" territory, then We simply will have to continue living in a sub-standard present, stumbling on the path to a declining Future.

So this time, instead of really answering "What would I change about Puerto Rico?" I answered "What would I change about Me?" And lo and behold, the answer to both questions is the same.


The Jenius Has Spoken.

1 comment:

James said...

Amen, Gil!

Course, you know I'd pay teacher's more, but that's another debate.