Last week I had lunch with a woman named Anntesha. When she was ten, her parents abandoned her and two other sisters at her grandparents’ house. Several months later, her grandparents made them all legal orphans.
All three sisters adopted negative attitudes, got into all kinds of trouble, and made babies without finding husbands (all common among orphans). That changed for Anntesha when she was twenty and took a Life and Job Skills class with me at Manpower. Our focus on humility, gratitude, empathy, positivity, and flexibility, along with our direct assistance in finding her work changed her attitude—and consequently many lives.
According to Antesha a positive attitude, faith in God, and faith in yourself will override any set of circumstances. She is a single mother of three, has kept the same part-time county job for the last three years, works a second job at UNLV supporting a grant to reduce pregnancy among foster youth, recently earned a promotion and a huge bump in pay to $12/hour, and finds an enormous amount of joy in life. This allows her to function as a source of joy for her family, friends, and coworkers. From her Facebook page:
Anntesha Chesterton, July 6 — feeling nervous.
I start my new job tomorrow and I’m super nervous. I hate starting new things, but know that’s how I will advance to where I want to be in life. Here’s to new doors opening. I’m just going to think positive and everything will work out I just know it.
Anntesha Chesterton, July 9 — feeling Accomplished.
It feels good to know I am making something out of my life. I love when people I have never met come up to me and say “Oh you’re Anntesha! I have heard so many good things about you and what you have done” I’m am really proud of myself and inspired to go further. #makingadifference #proud
This week I spent three hours with a group of highly skilled, extremely competent industrial mechanics and electricians. These folks have worked for the same rock steady employer for between eleven and twenty years, sit at the very top of the non-management pay scale at their plant (80-120k per year), and receive excellent benefits. Their worksite has been accident free for almost four hundred days.
They are so miserable that the leadership team brought me and a colleague in to help.
huh . . .
One person drives the misery at that wonderful, but sad plant. He is smart, charismatic, and incredibly tough to replace due to his outstanding technical skills. “Dave” spends all of his available time “helping” his co-workers understand how they are all mistreated by management. He campaigned for many of them to receive raises. Most of them treat him as a leader and give him their loyalty, friendship, and respect. He is the worst kind of workplace cancer. Dave has stolen every vestige of peace and joy from the working lives of his colleges.
In retrospect, I know I had a good day. Dave used to make me seriously mad without ever breaking our relationship. I cannot count the number of times I wanted to blame my circumstances and wallow in misery. My utterly frustrating and pain-in-the-butt dad tirelessly taught me that attitude is everything and that I was in charge of my attitude. So! Very! Frustrating! To! Hear! Hahaha.
I have taught my kids the same thing until they cannot stand to hear it anymore, and I will continue to teach it every chance I get (to them and all of my students). I overwhelm my kids with this message because I do not want them to be like Dave. I also want them to understand that they will, without question, work with someone much like Dave. I want them to be like Anntesha the orphan, not like Dave the cancer.