Know the factors that determine your attitude

April 26, 2010
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Picture this: Just landed at JFK airport after an eight-hour flight from London. Me, Jessica and Gabrielle, our 1-year-old daughter.

Gabrielle is already a seasoned flyer: Atlantic Ocean twice, Pacific Ocean three times, and on her maiden voyage to Europe, she collected six stamps on her passport. She made the London to New York flight whimper free, and now faces a three-hour layover to catch yet another flight home, to Charlotte, N.C.

We take the AirTrain from Terminal 4 to Terminal 7 and go through security again, not really looking forward to the three-hour wait.

Note: When you fly a lot, you can’t complain about jet lag. Over the years, I have created my own philosophy about time zones: I’m in my own time zone. When I land, it’s either daytime or nighttime. I make a mental adjustment to the time of day, and when I do, physical adjustment seems to follow.

Anyway, we get to Terminal 7, hungry, and look around for some tasty, overpriced food. We spot something that looks edible at one of those fresh-made sandwich places.

I go up to the counter and spy a cut-open avocado on the back counter. I order an egg salad sandwich, Jessica orders a ham and cheese sandwich, and I ask the woman who is serving us if we could please purchase some avocado for Gabrielle. “We don’t sell avocado!” she barked.

I challenged her a couple of times, and although there was an avocado cut wide open on the counter behind her, she stuck fiercely to her guns in a typical New York “It’s my way or the highway manner”: no smile, matter of fact, if you don’t like it go someplace else. She walked away.

Another woman behind the counter, who witnessed the exchange and maybe felt empathy for the cute baby in my arms, came over to me and said, “Why don’t I make you an avocado sandwich?” “Great!” I said. “Thank you!”

She smiled, and in a minute and half had cut the avocado up, placed it between two slices of bread and wrapped it.

I looked at the wrapper. It read “Three-Cheese Sandwich.” The woman smiled at me and said, “We don’t actually sell avocado. This will help you with the cashier.”

I paid, sat down at our table, ate my sandwich, Jessica ate her sandwich, and we fed the baby. I went back to the counter to thank the woman again and hand her a $10 bill. She smiled at me, almost in tears, and said, “Thank you” as she looked me in the eye.

I love the exchange of random acts of kindness.

Meanwhile, our plane home is delayed another hour; the airport is full of people — mostly New York people and most of them with an attitude that’s compounded by flight delay.

Finally, we board. Because we have the baby, we board first. Sitting in Row 1, Jessica immediately straps in Gabrielle’s car seat, gets her DVD player rolling, and places the player between Gabrielle’s legs. “Sesame Street” begins to play. Gabrielle’s legs are now positioned above the player, and she looks about as laid back as humanly possible with red headphones on, bouncing and grooving to the sounds of “Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?”

As people are boarding, every single person is looking glum, either angry at the delay, prices in the airport, or the world. As each passenger turns the corner to find their seat, they look at Gabrielle and immediately begin to smile. If two people are traveling together, they begin to smile, point and talk. “Look at that cute kid watching a movie!” They stop to revel in Gabrielle’s joy.

For the next 11 minutes, every single person who boards the plane stops, smiles, points, and even makes comments to total strangers.

Gabrielle, in her innocence, and being herself, had changed the mood of the entire plane. Even the flight attendants were marveling, and people were actually taking pictures.

What mood are you in? What changes your mood? How easy is it for you to go from good to bad, or bad to good?

Most people who are rarely in a good mood don’t realize that they have a choice. Little Gabrielle created a rare opportunity to change 137 moods in an instant.

I’m challenging you, that in these economic times, everyone occasionally needs a mood change. Find yours, and employ it to trigger a better mood — even a great mood — in an instant.

Free Git-Bit: If you want to see Gabrielle’s photo on the plane, go to www.gitomer.com and enter the word SESAME in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail salesman@gitomer.com.

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