Last week I had the pleasure of watching an intramural flag football team win an exciting game in overtime. But it was something that happened after the game that really grabbed my attention.

During the game, one of the players accidentally cleated a player on the opposing team. He was wearing metal cleats. The accident didn’t cause much of an altercation at the time…but then the injured player’s team was defeated.

Immediately he ran up to the guy who had been wearing the metal cleats and yelled, “DON’T YOU EVER WEAR METAL CLEATS TO A GAME LIKE THIS AGAIN!”  He pushed the guy backwards until his team pulled him away.  From all appearances, he was looking to fight.

The coach apologized to the player who had been pushed.   He acknowledged that his player should apologize.

A few minutes later, the injured player made his apology.   It went something like this: “I blew up and got mad.   I have an anger problem and can’t control myself sometimes.   I’m sorry…but I could have broken every bone in your body if I had wanted to.”

The other player was stunned.

He had already changed out of the metal cleats, apologized to the injured player, to the referees, and to the coach of the other team.   In his mind, the matter had already been resolved.

The guy with the “anger problem” could see only one way to find resolution…a fight.

Later, it struck me that the player who claimed he could not control his anger had in fact kept it under wraps throughout the balance of the game.  He waited until after the game – more importantly, after his team lost – to blow up.

At first it was easy for me to judge that player and proclaim that, rather than an anger problem, he had an attitude problem.

The truth is that we are all prone to attitude problems.   It’s how we choose to handle those situations that makes all the difference.

Have you checked your attitude lately?

Consider this… Stephen Covey mentioned a space in time between stimulus and response that we have total control over. It’s the time between when you are stimulated to do something and when you actually take action. That space in time may only be a millisecond, but it is still within your control.

Over the next couple of weeks, try to pause and catch yourself reacting before you think. It’s easy to ignore that tiny space between stimulus and response, but remember: that time belongs to you. Use it well.