Monday, August 4, 2014


My son recently wrote a letter to a number of his colleagues encouraging them to press on in their work at the hospital he worked at. He has since taken a new position in Atlanta (he is a highly skilled paramedic who served out troops in Afghanistan). I was intrigued by the following event in John Maxwell’s life. As you read, think of how this kernel of truth informs your life and work as a Chaplain or other hospice professional. It was a beautiful day in San Diego, and my friend Paul wanted to take me for a ride in his airplane. Being new to Southern California, I decided to see our home territory from a different perspective. We sat in the cockpit as Paul completed his instrument checks. Everything was A–Okay, so Paul revved the engines and we headed down the runway. As the plane lifted off, I noticed the nose was higher than the rest of the airplane. I also noticed that while the countryside was truly magnificent, Paul continually watched the instrument panel. “All those gadgets,” I began, “what do they tell you? I notice you keep looking at that one instrument more than the others. What is it?” “That’s the attitude indicator,” he replied. “How can a plane have an attitude?” I asked. “In flying, the attitude of the airplane is what we call the position of the aircraft in relation to the horizon.” By now my curiosity had been aroused, so I asked him to explain more. “When the airplane is climbing,” he said, “it has a nose–high or positive attitude because the nose of the airplane is pointed above the horizon.” “So,” I jumped in, “when the aircraft is diving, you would call that a nose–down or a negative attitude.” “That’s right,” my instructor continued. “Pilots are concerned about attitude of the airplane because that indicates its performance.” Paul, sensing I was an eager student, continued, “Since the performance of the airplane depends on its attitude, it is necessary to change the attitude in order to change the performance.” That conversation triggered my thinking concerning people’s attitudes. Doesn’t an individual’s attitude dictate his performance? Does he have an “attitude indicator” that continually evaluates his perspective and achievements in life? What happens when the attitude is dictating undesirable results? How can the attitude be changed? And, if the attitude changes, what are the ramifications to other people around him? - John Maxwell

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