Our environment is dominated recently by a tidal wave of political and social corruption that has seriously impacted on the mindset of our society. The trust deficit in our country has taken a huge further knock. Our attitudes towards our environment has in general become increasingly negative as well.
The focus of this article is on the importance of our attitude towards our social and political environment and how this impacts on our success or failure as leaders in our own environment.
The story of Jack
In my early teens I had a friend down on the south coast of KwaZulu Natal that somehow clung to me as a bosom pal. I did not have the heart to shake him off to get some time for myself and as a result we spent many days together in adventures of young boys growing up virtually free next to the Indian Ocean and amidst dense sub-tropical vegetation. In many ways it was a great time and place to grow up amongst mambas, sardine runs, blue and green shad, sun burns, devil thorns and matagulu fruits, imagining we were Tarzan with his apes. My biggest challenge during this time was the prevailing attitude of my friend Jack (not his real name). He was a child with an abusive and drinking father. He hated his father and he hated the whole society. He was full of energy but of a negative nature. If he had to choose between two courses of action, he consistently chose the dangerous and irresponsible option. I spent a great deal of mental and emotional energy in trying to counter the obvious negative consequences of many of the steps he proposed so that we could have some ‘fun’, according to his idea of fun.
Why do I mention Jack in relation to the topic of this article? Because of Jack’s home environment, he had no respect for anything or anybody in society. His environmental confidence was at very low ebb. He had no desire to develop a proper career or complete his schooling. He was constantly fighting and bickering with teachers at school and eventually left school as soon as he was allowed to do so. Out of school his life was one disaster after the other, getting embroiled in bad company, drinking and criminal activities. I lost contact with him soon afterwards.
How we perceive our environment is a major x factor of our leadership profile
It is one thing to heartily disagree with politicians about social, economic and moral policies and practices that to our mind may be causing the failures of our society. It is another thing entirely for this negative attitude to overrule our own attitude towards our future. I recall joining a rugby team that was not very successful at the time. A few weeks after joining the club another young player joined us who played provincial school rugby the previous year. His positive attitude inspired the team and lifted their performance to a higher level. He did not allow the negative environment of the club to corrupt his own attitude. It was a good lesson for me and others in the club as well.
Negative space is not a good space
A negative space is not a grateful or good space to be in. We recognise the negative space we are in when we resist a feeling of gratitude towards life and the joy of living and being and choosing the high road. Such negative feelings are warning signs that we are in prejudiced waters. Do not trust our feelings and decisions when we are in this space.
The blame syndrome
The most difficult tendency for a leader to control when in the midst of a war of pressures is to remain true to the most crucial asset of a leader, that of the people who work with him or her. Pressures seem to thrive in sometimes bringing out the worst in us and in a tendency to blame people around or over or under us. The pressures on us as leaders may often increase exponentially when we have a tendency to be negative about our environment.
A special kind of person
There is something special in a leader or worker that will not succumb to the tendency to blame others but rather focuses on the challenges and the processes of successful movement.
The saying ‘Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water’ is an effective warning to us as leaders against destroying the good while we reject the bad. This is applicable in many situations that we come across on a daily basis. We find daily examples of ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water’ in reports in our media of people making judgemental jumps without having all the facts before them. The judgment game is played by many of us every day without necessarily understanding the negative impact it may have on our own leadership confidence and progress.
Negative attitudinal habits are like boils on our skin. They are shackles that hold us back.
Our ability as leaders to cause movement of people and of situations are often shackled by negative habits picked up in the past. We do not always confront our negative shackles because we may tend to justify them.
It takes courage to let go of a negative environmental mindset! It takes character to see and pursue the good around us. It takes wisdom and emotional maturity to discern between the faults of others and learn to focus on opportunities that abound for those that are attitudinally prepared for such opportunities.
What is your and my environmental mindset?
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