2007-07-25 / Columns

Jim Hite


In searching for a topic, I often come across ideas that call for a lot of thought and even interpretation. Research into them often adds to their complexity and evokes emotions which are affected by many differing points of view. Other times, I come across items that bring about a response that can only be described as anger. American humorist Will Rogers is quoted as saying that he got most of his material from reading newspaper accounts of the activities in Congress. Today, I doubt he would find much humor in government activities.

The emotions brought out by the following person's outlook on life are, for me, gut-wrenching.

A couple of weeks ago, a television program devoted itself to Kay Yow, basketball coach for the North Carolina State women's team who is fighting cancer. She is a legend in North Carolina, having been in place at the beginning of collegiate women's basketball. My daughter, who lives and works in the Raleigh/Durham/ Chapel Hill area, has attended numerous Wolfpack basketball games and is friends with several who played under Yow.

Coach Yow was the speaker at my daughter's graduation from East Carolina University, inspiring even then.

When Coach Yow discovered she had cancer, she stayed with her duties during treatment. She did have to leave the coaching to her assistant last season for several weeks, but Joyce and I watched when she returned to the bench for the game against top-rated rival North Carolina. For NC State, it was storybook time, as her young athletes took on the best and pulled off the upset.

Yow is still fighting the cancer. She is still inspiring those who know her and know of her.

In the television interview I watched, Yow made a statement that should be burned in all of our minds: "Attitude reveals character. It does not build character."

Look around, and/or look in the mirror. Each of us exudes an attitude. We can't hide it. Nor can those with whom we live and work hide theirs.

Negative, cynical, selfish, self-righteous, self-satisfied, antagonistic, hateful, caring, open, positive, loving, giving, friendly - these and many other terms are used to describe one's character.

Nowadays, it seems that the task of building character is turned over to the school and/or church.

But if we look at Coach Yow's understanding of the human psyche, what is needed is an "attitude adjustment."

Looking at that list of terms describing character, we see that they are all "attitudinal." In fact, when you think about it, it's impossible to hide or fake one's character because attitude is so visible.

Our attitude toward life shows in all we do and say. A positive attitude is one that presses on and does not dwell on adversity. There is no "Woe is me!" in an attitude that takes on all that life deals and keeps on keeping on.

This is not "Pollyanna." This is reality. Life deals good and bad, most of it random and unexplainable. But our character is revealed in our attitude toward the life we have.

Again, look around. Better, look inside.

Return to top