Attitude Is Caught, Not Taught

By Paul Christ
Published on Sep 29th, 2010

As a retired police officer, I have a number of stories about the importance of attitude, but those must wait for another time (article). In my line of work now (security), I generally work at a company where I open up early in the morning and close late in the evening. In the morning I start with opening 3 buildings, Then, I man the reception desk in the main building which is the head office of the company. I take calls and hand out access passes to incoming temporary workers. The reception clerks arrive and relieve me of my duties at 8:15 AM. The building itself is lovely with a big spacious lobby in the center that goes all the way up to the roof. The four floors of offices are built around that cathedral-like space.

I usually see the same people coming into the office every morning. Almost everyone says "good morning". Of course, I'll return the "good morning" to them. From most of the employees it is a sincere greeting, others do it out of a moral courtesy. A very few don't say anything at all. Well, it is not my job to educate people here, if they don't want (won’t) to say anything, I leave it at that. I don't bother them with a pronounced "good morning" from my side which they would then feel obligated to answer.

There was one particular young woman working there that always passed me by, without saying anything. I could tell from her body language she was deliberately ignoring me. Her every expression said, “The security guy is beneath my class and doesn’t deserve any attention.” She was even worse than the two CEO's that work there, at least from them I get a nod every now and then.

This went on for almost 2 years, she passing by, ignoring me, me not saying anything. One morning, I was just ending my shift. I saw her walk by, talking on her cell phone. She walked to the far corner of the lobby but I could still see her. I noticed that she was crying while talking on the phone.

My shift was done and before I walked out the building, I went to the water cooler and got a cup of cold water. I walked over to her and without saying a word, I handed over the cup and walked away. Just as I turned I saw her surprised look and she murmured "thank you".

The next time after that, I believe it was the next week; she came in and walked by. She saw that it was me behind the counter and a little hesitant she said, "Morning". I smiled and said: "Good Morning". We never spoke to each other about what had happened. But, from that day since, every morning as she passes by my station, she is the first to say good morning.

There are a lot of phrases about attitude and I always liked this one: "Lead by example, follow by choice", which goes a little deeper than "Attitude is caught, not taught". The "follow by choice" part shows the responsibility to always think for yourself. Well, that can of worms is an article on it’s own.

Researching another subject I came across this saying from Albert Schweitzer: "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."

For my Kenpo students I try to be the best example possible.

The word difficult and all its synonyms are dirty words in our dojo.

Sometimes you can catch a new attitude on your own. Just a couple of days ago I had a rather unpleasant encounter with a scale. My new project for now is to also be an example for my students in the health department. In that sense, I would be following my students who are all pretty fit. I think the above quote's are very true and express something important about how our attitude can influence others, as well as, our concept of ourselves.

Attitude sometimes may take a long time to get caught, but when it does, it goes a long way.

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Paul Christ

Paul Christ began training in Ed Parker's Kenpo in 1983, reaching Black Belt in 1992. In 1993, although a career police officer, Mr. Christ began working with students, mainly his colleagues but also taught at other studio's. Paul has also taught in, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and the United States. Paul was presented with the prestigious Ed Parker Award in 2003 for his contributions to Kenpo. That same year, Mr. Christ was promoted by Professor Skip Hancock as his first European Black Belt in Kenpo 2000. Mr. Christ is a student of Skip Hancock.

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