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A group of children sitting on a wooden pergola next to a lake, with one child having their arm raised. Attitude

The Magic Word

Attitude

This one word can alter the way we see life, the outcome of our life, our job, our career and yet we never pay enough attention to our attitude.

It’s not just about our personality and character, it’s the way we project ourselves to the world and consequently how the world reacts to us.

Attitude is what makes the difference between reaching your goals and never getting close to them.

But what do we mean when we talk about attitude?

It’s not Just a Word

Our attitude is an all encompassing word that relates to a lot of other words, meanings and emotions. It is our morals, our ethics, our prejudices, our actions and inactions, the way we talk to ourselves and to others; the list is long, but, in essence, it is who we are.

The attitude we have is what we carry through our life, like a suitcase from which we pull out our thoughts, ideas, actions, beliefs and words, depending on the situation we’re in.

Take the work you’re in at the moment, for example. Do you approach it with a vigour that says you’re going to put in 110% or is it something that you just have to do?

Do you wake up feeling tired during your working week and feel fresh when you get up on your days off or when you have a holiday or some time off?

Is there a part of you that says that what you have is all you’re going to get, so you might as well accept it?

The lack of effort, the lack of energy and the belief that “that’s all there is”, are a part of our attitude towards our life and not just towards our work.

It’s not just about the traditional meaning of attitude which is our behaviour, it’s also our mindset, the belief we have in ourselves, what we are capable of and what all that implies for our life.

That is why it’s the “Magic Word”. It is a representation of our mental make-up.

Personality and Character

Our personality is all the individual parts of our character. Our character are the morals, ethics and mindset we have.

So if we change any part of our character we alter our personality.

The old saying that a leopard can’t change it’s spots means nothing here. We are not leopards. We have a free will and we have an intelligence that allows us to think and choose what path we want. We, human beings, are the only ones that can do this.

It is our temperament, our nature, our conduct, our behaviour; it is who we are on a daily basis.

Then it must include our ego and our self image, because they both play a part on how we behave and act, towards others and ourselves.

How many times have you reacted because your ego was “hurt” or you feared not getting acknowledged or noticed, rather than accepting that someone else was right or said something that you felt outdone by?

That’s the result of your ego and self image, but the way you reacted defines your character and from that your personality.

So it makes sense that if you change the way you react, your character will change, your personality will change and your attitude will change.

We say that some people are nice or nasty. That we can get on with one person but not with another, but these are reflections of ourselves. It tells us more about our own character and personality than we dare to truly admit.

We can learn from our reactions, what it is we dislike and what we like. What we relate to and what we don’t relate to. What we believe to be right and what we believe to be wrong.

Our Attitude

The beliefs we hold about ourselves, whether we can or can’t do something is a part of our mental attitude.

Consider the person who is asked to do something they have never done before during their normal hours of work.

If they have a “can do” attitude they are likely to take the work on. They may not know how to do it, but they know they have the ability to learn, what they need to learn, to get it done. This person is not afraid of failing and having another go. They know that this could be an opportunity to something better for themselves. They see the opportunity for what it is rather than the fear that comes with the unknown.

On the other hand, if they have a “can’t do” attitude they will turn the opportunity down, because the fear is greater than the the chance to be more. They fear failure, they fear that they will be criticised and made fun of by their colleagues and peers should they fail, that their boss will look down on them when they fail. It’s something they have never done before and outside their work description. It may even mean more time at work. These people approach life with a failure attitude and put in only the amount of work that’s needed to get the job done.

Even if you are good at your job and better than others, your attitude towards your job is what makes the difference. Before you can get anything out out of your job you have to put the effort in. Sometimes you have to put the extra hours in and always put 110% effort.

Here’s the caveat – put the effort in and the time in, but not to the detriment of your family and health.

Our attitude is about how we talk to other people, how we conduct ourselves as well as the belief we have in ourselves.

It’s like the man or woman who complaints about their boss – what would happen if that same person changed their outlook, their perspective, towards their boss?

Say you approached your own work to help meet the needs and demands that your boss faces. You do your job, but do it better than you have ever done before. Instead of thinking what you can get out of your job, consider what you can put in to make things better?

What most fail to understand is that the way other people act towards us is directly related to the way we behave.

So by changing the way you act at work, the likelihood is that your boss’ attitude towards you will also change.

There are the exceptions when people act towards us in a way that is out of character or because they are venting off because of something that happened before. Realise that this has nothing to do with you and don’t react. It doesn’t mean that their behaviour is acceptable, because it’s not, but you should not let it bother you. Keep your composure.

No external circumstances can affect you – unless you let them. Whether they do or not depends on your mental attitude.

Of course, if you have exhausted all possibilities and the person you work for has himself or herself a poor attitude, a change of work may be called for.

The point is that it’s not always the job that’s the problem. It’s our attitude towards our work and our job.

A Change of Outlook

If you enjoy the work you do but don’t enjoy the job itself, look at the benefits of the job. Are you getting paid for it? Are you getting paid above the average wage? What benefits come with the job?

We can get stuck in a rut with our thoughts, going down the same track, because we never consider looking at things from a different point of view.

What would happen if you put in an extra 5% or 10% effort into your work? Is there something you can do to save your company money? Is there a change that could be done that can benefit your fellow workers and the company?

You may be in a situation where you feel that no matter what you do, there’s no chance of betterment in your own workplace. It doesn’t have to be.

All it takes is someone to see the effort of your work for that better thing to come along.

I know of a young man who worked in a hotel. The chances of promotion or getting a better position were minimal, however, he put effort into his work, because he wanted to do his work right and to his best ability. He had pride in putting effort into his work and he believed in doing his best for the customers. He was in that position for just over a year and then I hadn’t seen him for a while. I initially thought that he had taken time off work, but I was told that he had got a job somewhere else. I got the chance to speak to this young man, who told me that a customer at the hotel had seen him working and had offered him a job, working for the customer. Better wages, better hours, more time off. All because his attitude towards his work stood out. He STOOD OUT amongst his colleagues.

But, he was also not afraid to take on a new challenge.

So don’t think that the better job will just come from your current employer – it may come from someone and somewhere else.

A Positive Mental Attitude

I’ve left this last, because positivity is a state of mind. Pure and simple.

It’s that belief that we can do something, that something is possible for us in our life.

Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.
Zig Ziglar

Looking at things from a negative perspective won’t help you see what’s possible or what can be done. The problems just look as problems rather than challenges to be overcome.

Where as if we look at the possibilities of a problem, the possible positive outcomes, we get motivated, we feel a push to tackle those challenges.

Don’t misunderstand this. I could be as positive as I want, but I still can’t dunk a basketball. For a start, I don’t play basketball. Then there’s the training involved to be able to jump the height to do it and at a hundred and sixty-five centimetres I would have a way to go to reach the height I need to dunk the ball. With the right coach and training I might one day be able to do it, but, it’s not on my list of things to do in this life.

Just because we haven’t done something before doesn’t mean we can’t do it at all. We must really want to do it though!

A positive mental attitude means that we recognise our strengths and weaknesses, but also recognise that if we don’t know something or how to do it, we can learn how to and we are able to learn, so that well be able to do it. We are aware that there will be challenges and failures, and we accept them as part of the learning process.

Attitude is a way of life, and a positive attitude will get you further than a negative one will. It is who we are and what we are, at this moment in time.

Since where we are now is the current outcome, then we can change our attitude to the way we want it, so we can be who and what we want to be in the future.

To make a change we need to change our beliefs, our ideas and how we conduct ourselves.

By changing our attitude we end up changing the outcome of our life.

It’s not the environment that determines the outcome. It’s our attitude towards the environment that makes the difference and defines the outcome.

So where should a man direct his endeavour? Here only – a right mind, action for the common good, speech incapable of lies, a disposition to welcome all that happens as necessary, intelligible, flowing from an equally intelligible spring of origin.
Marcus Aurelius

A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change.
Earl Nightingale

Photograph by: James Rowland on Unsplash


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