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 football game. 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 promises. 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 working world? 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 all. 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 misplaced. 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.