Being Positive

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

One of the things I like about writing a blog is I get to choose topics and there is always something different to write about.  In this past year, I have attended a Zoom meeting online with the former wrestling coach at the University of North Carolina, Bill Lam.  Bill is in the sports hall of fame and his teams won the NCAA championships under his tenure.

One of the attendees on his Zoom calls is Erich Kopsch who also has a sports background and hosts a Facebook group that has a focus on PMI, or Positive Mental Attitude.  He uses short quotes from a variety of sources to underscore how our attitude really can control our destiny.  

I sent him a post about my golf coach, George Jacobus, who was really the first mentor in my life. Erich used one of the quotes on his FB page.  When he did that, it reminded me of things I didn’t say about George which have occurred to me after the fact.

I realized that in all of his instruction to me over the years, George always gave instruction as a positive thought, never a negative one.  In other words, he never said:  “you are doing this wrong” – which is a negative. His correction was always “do this”.  So, while you may not have known precisely what your mistake was, you always knew the right thing to do by remembering his instruction.

Basically, that’s accentuating the positive by making you focus on doing something rather than not doing something. Trying to correct a swing error by focusing on not doing something is a waste of time.  That lesson applies to life as well which I learned as I turned into an adult.

The U.S. Secret Service, in addition to having the responsibility of protecting the President and Vice-President of the United States, also have a function with the U.S. Treasury in combatting counterfeiting.  Instead of studying counterfeit bills, they study genuine currency. From that, they know what the real bills look like and can easily detect a fake one. Again, it’s a focus on the positive, not the negative.

Even in bringing up children, creating a positive role model is probably one of the best ways to demonstrate a picture to follow. Your actions often speak louder than words.  Being an encourager is important to the next generation. They need to have a mentor or parent cheering them on.

My wife, Sis, is probably the most positive person I know. She always looks at life through the lens of a glass half full rather than half empty. Her positive spirit and attitude have rubbed off on our children and I see the same traits in them with my grandchildren.  Studies consistently show that positive parenting will benefit kids later in life. 

Even Paul realized the importance of having a positive mental attitude.  Instead of dwelling on the negatives (i.e. don’t do this), he accentuated the positive by saying focus on positive things in Philippians 4.  His list of positives ends by saying “think on these things.”

Great advice for the ages, then and now.  In my career, I saw positive things in people that I admired.  It could have been an attitude, a skill or a talent.  One of those people was a man named Sorton Jones, who was the Chairman of my law firm when we merged in 1985.  

Sorton had a writer’s gift that is hard to describe. At a time before computers were commonplace, he could write about something complicated like a merger using simple words and concepts that were so clear that there was no need to elaborate. 

As I honed my own writing skill in my professional career, I often thought of Sorton’s brilliance in taking a complex topic and writing about it in plain, concise and clear language. 

Again, the focus of my writing was to follow the positive example that Sorton demonstrated to me.  I still think of how important his positive influence was to me over the years.

Today, we have a next generation that, in many ways, are impacted by negative things going on around them. COVID is one, but there are other cultural things that have caused them to be overly anxious, depressed or even having mental health issues.    

They need some positive role models in their lives.  People like George Jacobus who taught me more about life than about golf. His lesson for me was that you were a gentleman first and a golfer second and not to get those two mixed up.   Being a gentleman carried with it the responsibility to maintain composure while playing golf and not lose your temper. 

In this day, adults need others to come alongside the next generation as mentors to be positive influences for their lives and their careers. I recall the lament of a millennial female friend of mine who said: “where are all of the mentors, particularly the men in the church?”

Good question. I have used her quote in my mentoring presentation for several years and it is a cry that is still out there. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  One of the traits of a mentor is to be a positive influence on the next generation. They might not have had positive role models in their life before.

FURTHER READINGPositive Parenting Can Have Lasting Effect for Generations –Oregon State University

WORSHIP:  The Stand – Hillsong

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