by Steve Adubato, PhD

Attitude is just about everything. It affects our mood, our performance, and in many ways, our communication.

I am writing this column in the middle of one of the countless rainstorms that hit us this past week. Day after day, there was more rain. Hopefully, as you read this on Sunday, there is a little bit of sunshine. It’s funny how people say the weather affects your attitude. I’m convinced that’s true because I’ve been cranky, short and irritated by the simple things—simply, my communication has been off.

Yet, there is a much bigger picture for some people who have overcome a lot more than a little rain. Consider the case of Eric LeGrand, the much-publicized 20-year-old former Rutgers University football standout who was featured in the Star-Ledger a few weeks ago by my colleague Steve Politi. As most folks know, Eric was paralyzed after a devastating hit on the football field on October 16. For many, it’s inconceivable to imagine that in the blink of an eye a strapping, strong, fit and extremely young athlete would go from the top of his game to paralyzed in a wheelchair.

But here’s the thing about attitude. It can help you do things that otherwise seem improbable, if not impossible. Not only is Eric LeGrand light-years ahead of his doctors’ expectations, he is communicating at the top of his game. In virtually every picture of Eric, he has a huge smile on his face, which is only matched by the upbeat and inspiring words that come out of his mouth. He amazingly told Steve Politi, “I’m thankful for what I have now, but you don’t settle for it. You have to keep looking forward.”

So while the rest of us wait for better weather to change our mood, Eric LeGrand has apparently decided that he is going to change his attitude from the inside out. He is going to decide what his future holds.

He said in the Star-Ledger; “I always wanted to be a sportscaster…My dream was to play in the NFL, but after that, it’s to be a sportscaster. I’ll probably focus on that after I graduate college.” He also talked about the possibility of coaching. While LeGrand got out of Kessler Institute in West Orange at the end of March, he has been a whirlwind of activity, inspiring others by communicating not just through his words but through his actions and, again, his attitude.

While many of us allow negative communication to impact our lives, Eric says; “I can honestly say I don’t talk to the doctors — my family handles them.” The reason is that very often those doctors tell him what he CAN’T do, while Eric wants to focus on what he CAN do. Again, this attitude directly impacts his communication.

He told Steve Politi that he’s only cried four or five times since experiencing this devastating injury. Ultimately saying; “I never get angry…There’s no reason to get angry. I know, in time, it’s going to happen. I was never a patient person. I’m learning through this that I have to be patient, and it will all come back.” Until then, he said, “I’m living life the best way I can.”

What else can anyone ask for? Living life the best you can. Making the most of what you have. Focusing on what you CAN do. None of us should ever forget that of all the communication tips and tools in the world regarding PowerPoint, pausing or posture all pale in comparison to possessing a positive attitude. Eric LeGrand proves that every day. To say he is a role model for the rest of us is a massive understatement. To say he is a hero seems more like it.