If you say the word “attitude” to people in the training community, most of us will think about presenters who burst into a room and try to knock trainees over with high bursts of energy. That’s not a bad image. Energy is absolutely part of attitude. Yet attitude is a lot more too. It is a force that multiplies the results of training, improves performance, and leads to greater success.
Attitude has been the motive force behind many kinds of people. Rosa Parks was a quiet woman, but she had the attitude to take on bigotry and hasten the end of segregation. Winston Churchill was not a showman who sought the spotlight, but he rose to the challenge of World War II and his “never, never, never give up” attitude led his country to victory. Stephen Hawking, with his physical limitations, is not equipped to bowl people over with high energy, but his great attitude has enabled him to lead a very full life and expand the horizons of physics and science.
And you and I can use attitude to multiply our effectiveness too, no matter our field of endeavor.
What Is Attitude?
Here’s an analogy that helps explain what attitude is.
Attitude is like STP, the popular oil additive. People who love STP say that when they add it to the oil in their cars, their engines run more smoothly, produce more horsepower, and deliver better gas mileage. Attitude is like that. You pour it into whatever you do, and performance improves.
Attitude is like an electric light bulb too. As soon as Edison began to sell electric light bulbs, people were able to read and learn into the evening hours, work longer days, and achieve logarithmically bigger things in their lives. Attitude also lights up the world and empowers people to achieve more than they ever thought possible.
How Can You Put the Power of Attitude to Work?
I am still working this out – it is a very big issue. But here are some observations from my own life in business that I know to be right:
- A great attitude starts with great listening, because attitude flows from other people to you – and not the other way around. When you become immersed in other people’s ideas, needs, concerns and inspirations, your attitude soars, and people sense that.
- Being open to new ideas is the cornerstone of a great attitude. I have noticed confusion in this area, because some people seem to think that attitude means having emphatic opinions and trying to convince other people that they are right. A great attitude, in contrast, means trying to discover where other people are right and honoring them for that.
- People who inspire you can help you build a powerfully positive attitude. If you apply life lessons from people who had great attitudes, you will take on some aspects of their greatness. When you study exceptional people, they will always be at your side in a sense. They might be your parents or other family members, business leaders you admire, historical figures, your minister or imam or rabbi – or anyone else whose life inspires you.
- A great attitude is something that gets things done in the real world, not just in theory. If you go into a room and charm people and then nothing changes after you are done talking, you are not really tapping the power of attitude. Attitude does not stop as soon as the words are said. If you want to tap its power, follow through and follow up and bring change to other people’s lives and to the world.