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A sign before darkness

Armed for battle, we dared not walk into the darkness and toward a distant light with our brothers without one final nod and a gentle touch of a worn out wooden sign that hung on the door. It read only three letters. Three letters located in a small Central Michigan town that would become so ingrained in my DNA that I cannot imagine a life without them. Three letters that have allowed me to endure many lost battles but have also allowed me to win many wars.

The letters were ‘PMA’.

In 1984, these three letters were one dimensional to a 17-year old High School football player who singular purpose for life at the time surrounded a game. A 17-year old who understood that no matter what adversity or hardships presented over the next 3 hours, maintaining a ‘Positive Mental Attitude’ was critical if victory were to be within our grasps.

Little did I know that these three simple letters could not only be a difference maker in life but could bethe difference maker!

A few years later it was yet again, a coach, who shared that “It’s your attitude not your aptitude that will always determine your altitude”

The dictionary defines attitude as “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person's behavior.”

‘A settled way’ to me means that it’s a decision. Something that we have a choice over. Something that we control.

An attitude therefore is “a decision to think or feel about someone or something that is reflected in our behavior.”

My path in life hasn’t always been easy. The truth is, it’s been filled with challenge and difficulty at every intersection! Over time, I’ve learned to embrace difficulty and adversity because I’ve learned that this is where meaningful growth occurs.

My positive mental attitude (PMA) toward adversity and challenge is something that has allowed me to grow during difficult times. It’s been my decision to think and feel a certain way about a situation that I am grateful for.

My attitude toward working and learning hasn't gone unnoticed either. It's something that coaches, teachers and employers have always complimented me for.

What is your attitude? How do you choose to think, feel and behave during difficult situations? How do you act toward others throughout your day?

It’s easy to have a good attitude when everything is going well and you’re around the people that you love. But how what is your attitude when you’re in challenging environments, difficult situations or around negative people?

Internally, we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions. Others, however, judge us by the experience that they have with us. You may be telling yourself that you’re ‘being nice’ or ‘being positive’ but is that the experience that you’re delivering to those around you?

“If you’re happy then notify your face”

The holidays always seem to present challenging environments. During this Thanksgiving holiday, give some real thought to your attitude. Remember that your attitude is a choice. You can choose to be positive and uplifting. You can choose to connect with others. You can choose to be grateful for your challenges as well as your blessings.

Make sure that when you choose to have a Positive Mental Attitude that it’s not just internal to you. Make sure that your behavior is delivering that experience to others.

11 years ago, I was going through a very difficult time. It was very challenging for me to be the positive ‘Eric Smith’ that I was known to be. It was at that time that my father gave me a poem called ‘Be Thankful’. It came at a time in my life when I was starting to figure out that I was who I was because of the difficult times in my life, not the easy times.

This Thanksgiving I’m grateful for the adversity that life has given me for it has helped me grow into someone who now loves to help others grow through theirs.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Coach Smith

BE THANKFUL Author Unknown

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to? Be thankful when you don't know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow. Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement. Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons. Be thankful when you're tired and weary, because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks. Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they will become your blessings

Eric Smith is a former NCAA Division-1 Quarterback and High School Football Coach. Eric is the owner and director of Winning Edge, an On-Line Quarterback Training Academy where he coaches and mentors aspiring quarterbacks. He also hosts Quarterback / Receiver Skill Development Camps as well as teaching leadership to sports organizations throughout North Carolina as well as a west coast swing to Northern, CA.

Eric is also a certified Leadership Speaker, Trainer and Coach for the John Maxwell Leadership Team

To connect with Coach Smith visit or email him at follow on Twitter at @winningedgeqbr

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