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By Sergio Fortes
Having enjoyed a rewarding career in commercial aviation for a quarter of a century, advancing from supervisor to director, I learned an important truth: People in aviation are passionate. Here in Brazil, we joke that it is like “cachaça” – our country’s very popular brandy derived from honey or sugar cane. For many people, aviation provides a unique intoxication all its own.

Because of my involvement in the aviation industry, I began working with my professor of international law, also a journalist and pilot, setting up a consultancy specializing in aeronautical problems. I learned much from him, including one lesson that I will never forget: the airplane has and needs ATTITUDE. Some confuse it with “altitude,” because in English the words sound similar. And obviously, altitude is also fundamental for flight. But the professor taught me about attitude, not altitude.

Attitude is the orientation of the aircraft in relation to the wind, and based on relative positions of its nose and wings on the natural horizon. Without the proper attitude, the pilot cannot keep an aircraft in the air. It will fall. To face turbulence, the plane needs attitude.

To face life's challenges, we also need attitude, especially in times of crisis. Life is not a straight path, but a succession of good and bad circumstances to which we must respond. What makes the difference for those who face challenges and come out victorious is determined by their attitude. Taking the aviation metaphor one step further, we are the pilot of our life – the commander of our business, our project, our enterprise. Uncertainties, losses, abandonments, misfortunes, failures and frustrations will come sooner or later. What will keep us standing, confident and continuing to fight, is our attitude.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul referred to this, expressing his attitude in an extraordinary way: “On all sides we are oppressed by difficulties, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed because we don't know why certain things happen to us, but we are not desperate. We are persecuted but not abandoned. We are brought down, but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Later, he would confirm what he had learned about the importance of having the right attitude, whatever circumstances were that he was facing: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have it all. I have already learned the secret to live contentedly in any circumstance, whether with a full stomach, hunger, plenty or need” (Philippians 4:12). Paul's ability to always assume the right attitude was an important factor in establishing one of the vibrant first-century faith communities in Philippi.

Paul and his friend, Silas, provided a powerful witness of faith that inspired many. However, there also were consequences for them. The social impact of their teachings quickly affected illegal and unethical economic interests. Conflicts arose, which prompted the authorities to take action. After being harshly treated and flogged, Paul and Silas found themselves imprisoned. Their attitude shaped what came next.

Even though they had many reasons to complain and feel defeated, they chose another attitude: to pray and praise God in spite of their circumstances. Their prayers and attitude had maximum magnitude on the Richter scale, causing a literal earthquake in the prison. Knowing the harsh Roman law, their jailer decided to kill himself, assuming the prisoners under his charge would escape. Paul intervened, however, convincing the other prisoners not to flee. This led to the jailer embracing Paul’s and Silas’s faith. 

We cannot always choose our circumstances, but attitude is a choice. What has been your attitude towards life's circumstances? What has been your attitude towards the challenges of your business? Still early in the new year, what is your attitude towards the challenges you will surely face? The attitude you take will make all the difference!

Sergio Fortes is a mentor and consultant in logistics and corporate strategic business. As a member of CBMC in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, he has coordinated the translation of Monday Manna into Portuguese for more than 20 years. He is committed to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ – to make disciples.
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