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The Power of Positive Attitude –"Don't worry. You'll find them."

Anne Macdonald

December 2014

It is said that nothing good happens after midnight. And so was the case, when I, as a battalion commander, received a call at 0200 hours one February from a flight crew. During night vision goggle (NVG) training on the Fort Campbell Reservation, a set of aviation NVG had accidently fallen out of the aircraft. The US aviator night vision systems were extremely expensive and highly sought after by both our friends and adversaries. In the wrong hands, the goggles could do serious harm to our technological advantage.

Missing, lost, gone, unaccounted for– whatever the word used-- the lack of accountability of a high dollar item, triggered a series of events including immediate notification to the Brigade Commander, Division Commander and the XVIII Airborne Corps Emergency Operations Center. For our battalion, it meant standing down what we were doing and putting a 100% concentrated effort on recovering the goggles. It was 0200 and there was no standing anyone down. The task would be to get folks to stand up–to wake up and begin the search. Finding a set of night vision goggles, a device 6 inches by 4 inches in size, that had "accidentally fallen out of the aircraft somewhere over the Fort Campbell Reservation", would be a daunting task by any measure. The Fort Campbell Reservation covers over 100,000 square kilometers: the goggles could be anywhere.

I called my Battalion Command Sergeant Major and Executive Officer to prepare a search plan. As I got ready to leave our quarters, my husband "warmly" offered, "Don't worry. You'll find them!" I thought, "Right. You who get to go back to sleep."

When I arrived at the battalion, a search party made up of the rest of the flight company had been assembled. The young Soldiers, who obviously had been hastily awakened, had no idea why they were at the hangar at this time in the morning. The 1SG was explaining to them how a set of aviation goggles had fallen out of the aircraft during night operations. Their task would be to find the goggles. As I looked at their dejected faces and the hopelessness in their eyes, I knew I had to say something. Much to my surprise the first words I said were my husband's, "Don't worry. We will find them." (These words had stuck in my mind. They were a seed of hope.) I saw the Soldiers visibly square off their shoulders and stand a little taller. They got it. "Don't worry. We will find them."

The power of positive words! Those words put us into the right frame of mind. Science tells us that we perform significantly better when we are in a positive state of being. We had to start our search with an attitude that would at least attract a positive outcome. The last thing we needed was to quit before we even had started. As Byrd Baggett, co-founder of True Growth, says, "Don't quit before the blessing!"

Fortunately, this story had a positive outcome. We started our search at the last known place of accountability of the goggles—a huge landing zone located close to the airfield. Standing side by side, we began our sweep of the field. After hours of searching, walking shoulder to shoulder with only flashlights to guide us, we found the night vision goggles. What a glorious sound when we heard a Soldier cry out, "Stop, I think I just hit something!" All flashlights went to the sound of his voice….. and then to his feet. And there on the frozen ground, amongst the stubble of cut hay, was the most beautiful site – a set of night vision goggles!

How many times do we look at a task and feel defeated or want to quit before we even start? A positive attitude will foster a positive outcome. A significant part of leadership is to swallow misgivings, paint a realistic picture of the desired outcome and with a positive mindset..."get 'er done."

True Growth Takeaway: Never underestimate the power of being positive!

True Growth Journaling Questions: How has the power of a positive attitude changed the course of an event in your life?
Describe one positive thing that happened to you in the last 24 hours.

About the author: Anne Macdonald served in the United States Army for over 30 years and retired as a Brigadier General.  A majority of her military career was spent coaching and mentoring soldiers and building/leading highly effective teams. She is an Army rotary wing aviator and commanded Aviation units at the battalion and brigade level.  Key assignments include serving as a Deputy Director for Operations at the National Military Command Center, The Pentagon, and serving as the Deputy Commanding General for 7th Infantry Division, Fort Carson and later Division West, First Army.  Her final assignment was as the Deputy Commanding General for Police Development, NATO Training Mission- Afghanistan where she advised senior Afghan leaders in the Ministry of Interior.  She has combat experience from the First Gulf War and Operation Enduring Freedom.  Anne was in the first class to graduate with women from the United States Military Academy in 1980.  In 2011, the women graduates of that class were inducted into the US Army Women's Foundation Hall of Fame.

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