MAKING THE MOST FROM YOUR "BAD ATTITUDE"
To everyone who has ever been told at work that you have a "bad
attitude," I have a little story I'd like to share that might
make your day.
At age seventeen, I received my first job-related disciplinary
action for my "attitude," simply because I wanted to go to a
By that time I'd worked at the fast food restaurant for over a
year. I'd established myself as a reliable and hard worker,
punctual, flexible and eager to learn new things. I never
hesitated to come in when someone else called in sick, stayed
late if needed, and tried my darnedest to be a model employee.
But I wanted badly to go to that football game. My high school's
team would be facing its arch rival, which had soundly beaten us
the year before. Well in advance, I asked to have the Saturday
of the game off. My manager said he'd see, but couldn't make any
He ended up scheduling me to work that day anyway. Determined
not to miss something that mattered so much to me, I took it
upon myself to switch schedules with a co-worker. I made it to
the game (which we won, by the way), confident that I had not
let my place of employment down.
My manager saw it differently. As retribution, he took me
entirely off the work schedule for the following week, a
terrible price to pay for a kid who was saving half of every
paycheck for college. Undaunted, I used the free time to find
another, better paying, part time job.
As it turns out, this was the first in a series of work-related
incidents over a span of 25 years in which I'd get singled out
by bosses for having a "bad attitude." And for most of that
time, I accepted that label, and felt I deserved it. Why else
would it keep happening if it wasn't due to some character flaw
that seemed to stymie any chance I'd have to succeed in the
Still, the pattern concerned and baffled me, so I finally
decided to analyze it. Had I ever been reprimanded for poor
attendance or punctuality? No. Was I ever disciplined for
failure to do the job for which I'd been hired? Nada--in fact, I
always tried to excel at everything I tackled. Did I rub
co-workers the wrong way? Not as a rule; I've made many friends
in the jobs I've held, a number of whom remain friends long
after I moved onto other employment.
Had I ever done anything illegal or unethical on the job? Ever
spoke ill of any of my employers? Ever performed in a way that
would cost a company money or customers? Absolutely not. My work
ethic was such that I always gave 110 percent, always tried to
do what was best for the companies where I worked, and prided
myself on seeing, suggesting and implementing improvements.
So what was my problem?
And then it finally occurred to me. It wasn't *my* problem at
I'd figured out the pattern at last. Every time I got "sent to
the principal's office," (the phrase I began to use whenever I
was called in for one of those chats with the boss), it was a
result of my frustration with what I felt was my company's
short-sightedness. I'd rebel against silly rules, get
discouraged when people whose greatest talent involved kissing
butt were promoted, and yearn for compensation and perks
commensurate with my contributions.
If I was willing to give 110 percent to my employer, it seemed
reasonable to want 110 percent in return. Time and time again, I
met with disappointment. And time and time again, my frustration
with the status quo would get me into hot water with the boss.
What I failed to realize all along was that I was in fact Don
Quixote, tilting at windmills. My initiative, my enthusiasm and
my dedication weren't character flaws at all. They were merely
The day I realized this was the day I decided, once and for all,
to redirect my focus into starting and building my own business.
On that day, my frustration disappeared. I stopped wasting my
time and talent butting my head against brick walls, and began
to use them to build the foundation of my own dreams instead.
You see, I never had a "bad attitude" at all--simply a "right
attitude" in a wrong work environment.
So, you've been told you have a bad attitude? Terrific! Use it
to determine your own future and fuel your success.