No. 170



While I'm sure I miss the mark in many cases, it's my hope and prayer that I can share something with you in each of these visits that will make a difference in your life. As we work and grow together to develop and use more of our God given potential to serve others and to be happy and contented with who we are, one of the most important factors is our attitude. The person with a great attitude is head and shoulders above the crowd and, if not already, is well on their way to becoming a more productive and successful human being.

With these thoughts in mind I want to tell you about one of the most fantastic ladies I've ever had the priviledge of knowing. Her name is Willie Oates and while I have never had the courage to ask her age, she was a cheerleader for the Arkansas Razorbacks back in 1937-40, but since that time what a difference she has made in the lives of others! Without a doubt she has started or been involved in more civic, charitable and humanitarian organizations and received more awards and honors (including from 6 former Governors) than any person in the history of Arkansas. Wouldn't you know it! She is originally from Arkansas City, Kansas but she has become in institution in our state. Her resume, single spaced, is seven pages long and even you would be impressed.

One of the things listed on her resume is that she has traveled to all 50 states doing "hat" skits over a period of years. She is known far and wide as the "hat" lady and each time you see her in person, in the newspaper or on television, she will be wearing a 'hat' that is a show stopper, if you know what I mean. Recently I had the pleasure of being in her audience when she performed one of her famous "hat" skits. After some opening remarks she began to pull long Irish potatoes from a shoe box. Each potato had both ends cut off so it would stand up and she had painstakingly painted a face on each one so it could be identified as a person. As she continued to talk, she would pin a little hat on each potato and set it up before the audience.

Now here is the part that I don't want you to miss. She was very creative and this made the message she was sharing ten times more effective. The first potato she called 'spectator' or 'Spec' for short. She then talked about how most people never get too involved in anything worthwhile. In other words they are a 'spec-tater'. They show up for the meeting but that's as far as it goes. The next potato she called 'agitator' or 'Agie' for short. As she said, there are some people who never plan on getting too involved but their nature is to needle people and always ask controversial and emotional questions at the wrong time. This type of person is a "lightening rod" and quite often makes the sparks fly. Just one person like this can kill the enthusiasm of any group.

The next potato she called 'dictator' or 'Dick' for short. None of us want to be around, much less be under, any person who tries to be a dictator. Unfortunately, this is the style of many people but they are far less effective than they could be. The final potato was a little different color than the others because it was a 'sweet-tater'. She said old 'Sweet' is the one who has a sweet spirit, is always there and is willing to do more than their share. Every successful organization, profit or nonprofit, has people with these very important qualities.

I'm sure you know, not every person can or wants to be a leader. We need great leaders but we also need good followers if the job is to be done. When you boil it all down, (I hope you caught the pun) the big question becomces, "WHAT KIND OF TATER ARE YOU?" (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)