“Attitude is Everything”

Did you know that you can “choose” your attitude each and every morning? Now, I’m a morning person, so perhaps it is a bit easier for me; and I’m generally a positive individual, which also works in my favor, but it wasn’t until I met Keith Harrell that I became a believer in the Attitude is Everything philosophy.

Each year, IBM hosts the COMMON Users Group Conference, which attracts thousands. As a manager, I typically sent people to this conference, but had never attended myself – and then I had the opportunity. I attended technical sessions all day long and into the evening during the 4-day affair. On the last morning of the conference, more than 20 years ago, I attended a non-tech session led by Keith Harrell, Dr. Attitude.

Starting at 7am, we were all funneled into a moderately sized lecture hall, where this 6’7″ skinny guy with a huge smile personally greeted each attendee with a firm handshake and a “how are you doing?”. That’s not unusual, but with that big smile, still holding my hand firmly and eyes focused on mine, he actually wanted an answer! He was genuinely interested in how I was doing at 7 o’clock in the morning.

Mr. Harrell had my riveted attention through the rest of his presentation. Using real life examples growing up, a 14 year career with IBM as a sales trainer, and a then-fledgling motivational speaking career as a source of material he shared his life-lessons with the audience with lots of humor.

In all my years as a professional, I was hooked. This session was an epiphany for me and I became a true believer in Attitude is Everything. Every morning when I wake up, I have a little one-on-one with myself to set my Attitude on the right track – my choice. When I greet people in the morning, I try to do so with a smile, a big “good morning, how are you today?” and with a genuine interest in their reply. When someone beats me to it, I generally say “I’m Super-Fantastic! Thank you for asking.” And when we part, or when I sign off on my e-mails, I generally say, “Have a Super-Fantastic Day!” – and I mean it.

Life is short, and full of choice. Frankly, I have found that it’s a lot easier to “choose” to be positive. While preparing to write this blog entry, I looked up Mr. Keith Harrell, a few years younger than myself, I was saddened to learn that he died of cancer in October, 2010. In a tribute written by his family, they said that when he was asked how he felt during his cancer treatment, he would reply, not surprisingly, “Super-Fantastic!”

There is a downside to this philosophy. Not everyone is a morning person and appreciative of someone as energetic and “happy” first thing in the morning. But I’ll take it! That one meeting more than 20 years ago, where I felt like the only one he was talking to, had a very special meaning to my life. Thank you, Mr. Keith Harrell. You have made a Super-Fantastic difference in my life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *