I am not sure if this was your experience as a child, but as a kid, my family vacations were often little more than chaos. They were almost reminiscent of an episode of the National Lampoon’s “Vacation” series. You never really knew what to expect going into it, but you knew that it would be colorful to say the least. Most of this “color” came directly from my old man.
He was the loveable and ever present “Clark Griswald” type of a man always trying to do something good for our family, but it usually would backfire. One summer in particular, he announced we would all be going on a cross-country 7-day camping odyssey. What he failed to initially tell us as we embarked on our excursion, was he was also trying to “quit smoking” while on our family get away.
Over the course of our 7-day expedition, there would be one mishap after another, from the car breaking down to our parents breaking down, to us kids breaking down. After the initial 6 plus hour drive to our first campsite, Dad had had enough and was ready to light up a smoke. I am sure it had something to do with the fact that my sister and I were in the backseat making noise, fighting, and asking if we were “there” yet. Dad was not a happy “camper” (pun intended) by the time we arrived.
In fact, I specifically remember that as soon as he put the car in park he jumped out and began throwing our baggage onto the ground “unpacking” the vehicle. My mother, kind-hearted as she was, ushered my sister and I off to the side so as to not anger the beast further. As Dad huffed and puffed, white knuckled from the nicotine cravings, Mom would calmly watch as he unleashed his emotions on the baggage she had so carefully placed in the trunk. Little did I know, I was watching a very important lesson unfold in front of my very own eyes.
That lesson was this, Mom took the time to carefully go through and pack up all of our belongings in a neat and orderly fashion while Dad used his power and strength to destroy what she had created. His anger, frustration, anxiety, and nervousness was the direct result of how his inner being felt. He did the opposite of what my mother had, and was thinking of nothing but himself. The differences between the two are striking. Mom was acting out of a positive attitude while Dad was using negativity to encourage his actions.
Whether you believe in Karma or not, the fact was that my father’s attitude attracted the white knuckled anger and irritation that he felt as soon as we arrived at the campsite. He was the reason for his own discomfort. Had he possessed the same calm and peace-loving attitude of my mother, then my sister and I would not have to be moved aside to avoid getting in his line of fire.
You may be wondering what this story has to do with your own leadership or business ideals. I would pose the answer to you in the form of a question. Are you acting out of frustration which attracts problems or are you calmly and meticulously planning ahead for your future? Working out of frustration will leave you vulnerable and exposed, and possibly open to negative experiences. When my father “decided” to stop smoking before our trip, he acted hastily and the results were frustration and anger. My mother, on the other hand, planned our trip and acted out of knowledge and care. She was therefore immune to the anger and frustrations my father experienced, and simply sat back and watched the show!
Attitude attracts either problems or positive experiences. Which attitude do you have?