Some People Think You Have An Attitude Problem, Jerk!

by John Pellegrini

About four or five months ago, someone told me something that completely threw me for a loop. They said that one of the accepted definitions of insanity is doing the exact same thing every day over and over and over, and expecting a different result. Think about your job and your career and read that statement over again. What does it mean? For me, it meant that I finally have begun to realize some important principles about life, my career, and how I perceive my future.

Do you feel as though you're sort of stuck in a rut? You've got talent, and you've got ability; it's just that no one appreciates your abilities. No one is taking you seriously enough. No one seems to care what your opinion is. How many times do you catch yourself saying, "If only these jerks would do things my way, we wouldn't have this mess!"

I have two interesting thoughts about that. One, you're not alone. Production Directors are no different than anyone else. I've met aerospace engineers, CPAs, resident interns, sales reps, even ministers, all with the same outlook. "That doesn't make it any better," you say. It wasn't supposed to. It was merely to tell you that your situation is not unique, and your challenges have been dealt with by others successfully. And by studying their methods, you can learn how to deal with them successfully, too.

The other thought that I have about paragraph two is that your problems are your own invention. One of the main reasons why very few others sympathize with our problems is that they are not anyone else's responsibility. Do you care if someone else is having a bad day? Maybe you'll understand a little and sympathize a little, but you've got your own problems, right? Now, turn that line of thinking upon yourself.

What I am about to get into here is a line of thinking about changing some of the problems you're currently having by changing your attitude about those problems. This is a difficult subject for me to address because I'm still in the process of adapting these principles in my own life. Why am I sharing this information in this article? Because I've read the letters and the articles over the years that I've subscribed to RAP, and there always seems to be one familiar complaint. That we production people are always getting crapped on, that we're always forced to work too hard for too many hours for too little pay and for no appreciation. Does that sound about right? Well, that's how I used to see things. What we need to do is to clarify what our problems really boil down to: our quest for personal happiness.

Let's go back to that definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and over every day and expecting a different result. Are you approaching your career from this attitude? Do you say, "One of these days someone somewhere is going to see how good I am, and they'll give me the recognition and the salary I deserve!" Good. That's determination. But are you doing anything about it? Are you doing what's necessary to make yourself successful? "I'm sending out tapes and resumes," you reply. "What else is there?" I'm glad you asked.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a trap. We get something that has been called "Destination Disease." The symptoms are that you are constantly thinking, "If I could only get that job.... If I could only work at that station...in that city...in that format...with that equipment..., THEN I'd be happy." Others have "Person Disease" where you think, "If only I could have that boss.... If only I could meet that person.... If only I could have that partner in business.... If only I could marry that person..., THEN I'd be happy."

The problem is, if you're not happy with your situation now, you won't be happy when you get to your next one. The only person who can make you happy is yourself. The only thing that can make you happy is your attitude and how you perceive your life.

"But what about all those people who are causing my problems," you ask, "I can't control them." No, you can't. But you can control how you react emotionally to the situations they cause, and you can control how you deal with them.

Pretend right now that you're the boss. You've been given authority to hire a production assistant. Whoever you pick, that's the person for the job. Aside from the technical knowledge, what characteristics would you look for in the ideal production person? How about enthusiastic? Honest? Dependable? Hard Working? Teachable? Adaptable? Do those sound okay? Would you say that those are attitudes or skills? Probably attitudes, right?

You may have already figured out where I'm going with this. Turn the mirror on yourself and see how you hold up under those characteristics. Be honest about it, too. This is for your benefit, not mine or the people you work with. If you're having some challenges with any of those attitudes or any other ones you can think of, realize that you can change them for the better. You don't have to have the attitude you have. You can learn ways to improve all of those characteristics mentioned above. And by the way, if you can learn something, it's a skill.

So how do you change your attitude? That's a whole book. In fact, there are many books about that very subject. And this is where I leave the subject to those who are better experienced than I to coach you. Look for books like Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell, The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, Say Yes To Your Potential by Skip Ross, and A Better Way to Live by Og Mandino. (I know if I don't include this, it'll drive some of you crazy. Og Mandino's first name is short for Augustine. He just decided that Og would look better in print than Aug.) Also check out books by Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale and W. Clement Stone. They contain many great ideas and philosophies on the subject of achieving your goals and success. You can find them in book stores, although you'll probably have to look a little harder for them. For some reason, books on success and fulfillment are usually shoved way back in some dark corner of most book stores. The books without any quality at all are usually right up front. It's not because motivational books don't sell as well. Quite the contrary, motivational books outsell fiction three to one.

There is one thing that I must caution you about, because it's a mistake I made. Don't just buy one book, read a few pages, and then expect everything to change overnight. Learning new habits and new attitudes can sometimes take as long as learning a new job, sometimes longer. You've had your problems for a long, long time. It may take a while to change those problems. But I found out that the most successful people in any field are continuously learning and always reading motivational books. Why? Because they need to protect their attitudes, too. Without motivational books, they'd end up being just as negative as the rest of us, and that doesn't get anyone anywhere.

Is it worth the effort? Ask those millionaires and billionaires who have made their fortunes and successes on the principles established in motivational books. It might surprise you that most successful people weren't born that way. They often came from backgrounds as common, or sometimes worse, than ours. I'm not saying that we'll all become millionaires by reading these books. But if they can help you become happier with who you are and what you have and help you get more of what you want, then wouldn't they be something worth looking into?

By the way, if you are one of those fortunate ones who is truly happy with everything in your life, then simply look at this article as an affirmation of everything you're doing right. And for those of you who are feeling kind of smug right now and thinking that Pellegrini's full of crap and none of it can possibly work, remember one thing: it doesn't take any ability, talent or intelligence to criticize. All it takes is ignorance and a rotten attitude. Perhaps I'm being a bit heavy handed here, but I'm speaking from personal experience. Two years ago I would have had those very same thoughts about this article. Now, I can assure you, I'm a lot happier with my job and my future. Nothing about my job or the people I work with has changed, just my attitude. Because of this change of attitude, steps are being taken to help me gain a better working environment. But believe me, none of the changes that are being implemented would have been possible without the change of attitude I made toward my job and the people I work with. That alone makes it worth whatever effort I had to make.

What I've written here is a bit like scrapping individual snowflakes off the tip of the iceberg that sank the Titanic. There's a lot more to this subject than any of us can see right now. Personally, I began reading some of these motivational books about six or eight months ago. I have learned a lot, but I know that I've got a lot more to learn. Plus, what I know now is not going to be the same as what I know about this subject a year or two from now. Very likely, if I were to go back and read this article a year or two from now, I'd probably want to change everything. The learning process never is complete. You can never know Everything You Need to Know about any subject. Thinking that you no longer need to educate yourself is the quickest way to personal failure in any field.

Hopefully, if you've read anything here that resembles some things you've been thinking about, you now know that you're not alone and there are things you can do and references available to help you take the steps toward the results you want.

There are no secrets to happiness and success. We've just forgotten where we put them.

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