Sunday, January 10, 2016

Welcome to the Ant Farm!

Hey everybody! welcome to the Ant Farm! The "world headquarters" for The Little Old Ant Group!
Actually it's my kitchen table, at least for the time being, but hey...that's a long way from the back of a 1996 GMC Yukon.
A what?
Yeah...there's a backstory there.
The thumbnail is that in the years from 1998 to 2008 I went from a novice, rookie, wet-behind-the-ears mortgage loan officer, to a nationally recognized branch manager for the largest (at the time) privately funded mortgage company in the U.S. -to a homeless man sleeping in the back of a 1996 GMC Yukon. 
That's a long sentence so in case you missed the main points, I'll review...
I was a brand new loan officer struggling to make it in a brand new career. I made it, big-time, with the six figure income to match. The economy collapsed and I wound up living in my truck.
There was a whole lot more to the story but that's the nucleus. 
It took six years...almost to the day...to get back on my feet, have a home and a bed to sleep on, and embark on some sort of a career. Along the way, I learned a lot of valuable lessons. I finished my bachelor's degree. I rediscovered my passion for writing, and subsequently published five books, (with three more on the way) learned some valuable lessons about life, career, hope, real friendship, encouragement, saying "Thank you" and especially, never, ever quitting.
The biggest thing I learned about, was Attitude! Or, as we say in my hometown of Philadelphia; "Atty-tude."  "Attitude is everything!" As my friend and personal development teacher, the late Keith Harrell always said. 
And it is.
Attitude kept me from giving up, crawling into a bottle, robbing a bank, or becoming a ward of the state when I was broken and homeless and wondering if that nightmare would ever end. 
Attitude is what made my situation tolerable -and nothing more, believe me- when it was really intolerable.
Attitude is what made people step back in surprise when they found out I was homeless, because I simply refused to adopt the attitude of a homeless man.
Attitude is what kept me involved in my daughter's life, when the easier thing to do would have been to pack up and move someplace where I could find a job.
Attitude is what makes me a really great BRM at Liberty University, where I now work. Is it bold to say I am a "really great BRM?" Perhaps, but every one of the BRMs (there are nine of us) are really great. They make me great every day. Our team lead is great, our director is great. The whole IT department, of which we are part, is simply amazing and working for my alma mater is awesome!
Do I have bad days? Well that depends on your perspective I guess. See...I went from six figures and success and national recognition to living in the back of a 15 year old SUV. Those were bad days.. My job is a breeze by comparison. I see people in the hallways sometimes and it's "Well it's another Monday..." Try waking up on Monday when the rest of the world has a job to go to and you're still looking for one. That'll change your view of Monday forever. 
There'll be lots more on that later.
This blog is here to help. To help people drink a little from the wells I dug while I was journeying in that dark valley. Hopefully, none of you will ever experience the sort of crushing defeat that homelessness can be. But anyone can learn from what I went through. 
I decided, about halfway through the ordeal, that my attitude was going to be great even if my life wasn't and -hopefully- my life would simply wise up and follow suit. I wasn't perfect at it. There were times when blow after blow got the best of me temporarily, and I got bitter. People got hurt sometimes, because the dog bit when he really wanted a scratch behind the ears. But even then...God used the situation to teach me lessons I will share here.
"Life is what you make of it!" the old saying goes. I believe that, but more importantly I believe you will make it the way you see it. And you will see it through the eyes of your attitude. We tend to follow our strongest beliefs. If you believe your life is great and getting better...it will. If you believe "this whole thing sucks," guess what...the whole thing will eventually suck.
My life began to turn around when I took control of my attitude. 
When I became my own Chief Attitude Officer.
That's what I am now. I'm the CAO of myself and that makes me the deputy CAO of everyone I come in contact with. At work people will ask me "Craig, how are you?" as I walk by. It's the typical thing we all do, right? My response is everything but typical. My usual response is "Man if I was a dog...I'd be wagging my tail!" This always makes them stop in their tracks. "You what?!" Then I get the chance to tell them how happy I am for another day to be my best, serve my customer base, and be one of the nine greatest IT/BRMs in the entire world.
People call my desk just to hear my voice mail greeting. Why? Because people want hope and they gravitate towards a great attitude. That makes me the deputy CAO for everybody I touch.
Attitude IS everything my friends and you are the boss of yours. Entirely. 100% ownership. 
Come along with me and let's start developing great CAO's at every level.

High Hopes!

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