MARTIN: Attitude can determine altitude

Published 10:36 pm Friday, October 27, 2017

By JERRIA MARTIN | Guest Columnist 

Can you believe that growing up, as a young child, my nickname was “little devil,” and it had absolutely nothing to do with Halloween?

It was because my attitude was terrible! At that age, everything I did was to prove that I was trendier, more courageous, and hot-headed than my big brother.

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I mocked his actions or did the things I thought, at the time, would make me look cool to him.

Back then, my mother would always tell me, “Jerria, your attitude determines your altitude.”

As I got older, after being called into the ministry, I began to think back and wonder how a seasoned servant of God could have possibly started out as a “little devil.”

Have you ever wondered how our attitudes are developed?

In an advanced psychology class at Princeton, I learned that a child’s behavior and attitudes are shaped largely by the environment that he or she is brought up in.

Thus, to positively influence a child, you should pay attention to the environment he or she is in, but moreover as a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent to be an example of the type of person you want the child to be, because they learn from you.

In other words, attitude reflects leadership.

“Attitude reflects leadership, captain” is a famous quote from the movie, Remember the Titans.

While this movie is about American high school football, the sentiment remains: a good, or bad, attitude comes from the top down.

Every time I watch the scene featuring this quote, I ponder and ask myself, “How’s my leadership? Is it effective? How do my team members reflect it back to me?”

Those can be quite humbling questions to ask, but to truly measure your effectiveness as a leader, you have to look at how it is reflected by those you lead.

We must understand that every pastor, parent, manager, teacher, community member is a leader.

Are you effectively leading your household, your church, your business, school or organization?

Consider the attitudes of your team members and you will have your answer.

It’s time for all of Selma’s leaders to step it up, to be an example of every quality we demand from our young people.

The children are watching, what are they seeing? The children are listening, what are they learning? Are they learning to triumph gracefully against all odds or are they witnessing and modeling selfish, apathetic, and hopeless attitudes?

There is an African proverb that argues, “When the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

When we as leaders fight, it’s our city and our youth that suffers.  Smile more, be patient, compassionate. Carefully monitor your behavior, because there is contagious, elevating, and empowering hope in positive attitudes.

Martin is director of Drug Free Communities of Dallas County and a local minister.