I once knew a man small of physical stature. Short, thin, physically small guy. He also played volleyball for my college, this small man did.

There were three letters written on the heel of his right shoe. I’s a little known fact that I’m curious (read: NOSEY). He wouldn’t explain the letters. A couple weeks later I noticed the same letters on the inside of his left shoe near the arch.

“What do they stand for? What do they mean?”
He finally explained: “One of my teammates doesn’t think highly of himself. He thinks he doesn’t play well, isn’t a good person, he’s really down on himself. I care about him. He’s my friend. We talk about how his attitude is important. P.M.A. stands for Positive Mental Attitude. It’s on my heel because he lines up behind me so he’ll see it frequently when we are playing.”

“Wow. That’s pretty cool that you’re that kind of friend. Why is it on the inside of your left foot too?”

“Oh. That’s for me. I notice it when I’m taking position. I need the reminder too. I’m a small man in a tall man’s sport.”

1) A positive mental attitude is vital to vitality. Making a connection, raising a child, building a business or a brand, navigating daily life… Positivity is one of those characteristics to consistently practice. This isn’t denial. It’s not sunshine where the sun doesn’t shine. I wouldn’t even call it optimism. Positivity is more about what CAN be done then what can’t. It’s less of the why not and more of HOW TO.

2) Coloring outside the lines is important. We need to be innovating. Creating. Thinking, and acting, outside the box a little bit. Bob Dylan once said, “Chaos is a friend of mine.” Drastic statement? Maybe. The truth remains; it might get messy. We may get marked. Sometimes that’s what it takes to be an agent of change, to leave fingerprints on the life of a friend, to grow and build and help and care.
3) Move beyond the exceptions. There’s always going to be that interaction or experience that makes us feel less than. Those times we understand what it feels like to be a small person in a big person’s game. These are the time’s that we hear the Mr. Miyagi in our heads whisper, “first learn rule number 1.” It may be anyone at any time: friend, coworker, teammate, our child, spouse, boss, a completely random individual… These are the times to circle back to our attitude.
Positivity takes practice. Practice positivity.


Filed under 2011

2 responses to “P.M.A.

  1. Good points.. Very easy to lose sight of that in our daily lives. Busyness takes over and self-flavors (or more accurately taints) the rest of our days. Losing focus is easy, reshifting focus is much harder..

  2. KristerDunn

    I find that I need consistent reminders myself…in several areas. I was able to reconnect with the two guys in this story a little in the last couple years – they are just awesome guys. Love telling the story…

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