This is not going to be an easy post to take – especially if you’re a negative person who likes to blame your problems on others… Good luck!
Positivism doesn’t happen on it’s own. I didn’t wake up this morning and realize my life was spectacular enough that I can now go about being a happy positive guy. Shit just doesn’t work like that. For anyone.
There are constant forces at work to drag us down, right? People who wrong us and make us angry? People, places or things that make us this, or make us feel that?
Well yes there are, but they only count for anything if I want to be dragged down. And stay down. That isn’t me.
The trick to relentless positivism
I have to completely divorce myself from the outside world when it comes to concentrating my energy on my attitude. The second “you” enter my train of thought, I’m pooched. People, places and things are entirely out of my control. It’s not about how the outside world is, but how I perceive it and how I then, in turn, react to it.
My positivism is not an accident….
If you’ve been following along for any length of time, you know I was working on a difficult project a couple of hours’ commute from my house. Each way. We were given a target date when the owner was going to start moving furniture in. My boss, just back in April, confided in me that he thought it was an impossible goal, that it wasn’t going to happen – there was no way the owners would be moving in on time.
My team beat the date by three weeks. It’s been an ugly process getting there, but we’re there. We blew the budget, of course, because you can have something built fast, built well, and built inexpensively… you only get to pick two. The owner picked fast and built well and we delivered. It cost an arm and a leg.
I gave that job everything I had, every day. I didn’t miss a minute of work, not even to have a crown fixed that I’d accidentally loosened on a Jujyfruit the day before I was to start – I put that crown back on and ate on the other side of my mouth until I had an open vacation day four months later that I used to go to the dentist. There were several days I’d have to stop at a rest area on the way home to take a nap because I was getting too tired to drive safely. I had only had three waking hours a day for my family. My wife and kids got to a point they told me they missed me… but I still took that job by the horns and I made it my bitch. One day at a time.
On my last day, several of the foremen from the other subcontractors told me how much they were going to miss my positive attitude on the job, that I was a light on that site.
Folks, that four months (and some change) out of my life was hard. My car broke down twice, I had that tooth issue, my glasses broke, my phone was stolen, the owner’s management team rode us like red-headed rented mules… there were a dozen other little things that could have brought me down but I didn’t budge. I just kept motoring ahead, one day at a time, with my eye on the prize.
My friends, not letting that outside stuff get to me was, plain and simple, a choice. At each opportunity to fail or fold, I thought to myself, “Is this the thing that you let bring you down?” Each time I answered “F*** NO.” I became so relentlessly positive that I got strength from making the choice to stay positive, to keep winning. Just the act of acknowledging the difficulty and that I wasn’t going to let it break me made me stronger, more resolute. More positive.
It wasn’t always easy. I wasn’t perfect. There were times the drive really got to me. The look on my wife’s face when she said she and the girls missed me… driving down to work without my glasses was scary as hell (my eyes are not bad enough I couldn’t pass the State’s eye test – my driver’s license did not require corrective lenses, I’d just gotten so used to seeing perfectly…). One particular time, when my team and I were on the hot seat to get some critical work done and we were struggling to produce, that one almost got me. I quieted up for two days… but then I realized what I was doing to myself and I asked that most important question. “Will this be the thing I let bring me down?”
I bounced back the next day.
I have a choice of whether or not I will let an event or another person bring me down. Every single day. I don’t know what God’s plan for me is, but if my past is any indicator, He’s got some big plans and I’m going to have a lot of fun fulfilling them. Either I can get on with it, or I can curl up in a ball on the floor and stick my thumb in my mouth. It’s my choice.
That stack of drywall you see under the bridge is all we’ve got left on a job that needed more than 2,000,000 sf. That’s it. There’s so little remaining to do, I’ve worked myself right out of the job – there’s nothing to gain by having full-time project manager-level supervision on site anymore so I was sent back to the office to save money.
I don’t have to be perfect, or mistake-free. I don’t have to be the best, or the strongest. I just have to give it my best and care about what I do. I have to choose to remain positive. The key to being positive is choosing to be positive, and refusing to let my negative thoughts get in my way.
I can choose to quit and ball up in the fetal position tomorrow. As long as I remember that tomorrow never gets here.