If there’s anything we can learn from hardships, it’s that hardships give us the opportunity to put a plumb line on our attitude. Have you ever noticed the different factors that affect our attitude? Poor diet, lack of sleep, bad drivers. The list goes on.
Lou holtz penned the quote, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing, motivation determines what you do, attitude determines how well you do it.” Essentially, attitude is the defining factor that determines if what we produce is excellent or borderline acceptable. What would happen if we could take a proactive approach in protecting our attitude so that when problems arise, our attitude becomes our defense and not our downfall?
Here are three user friendly proactive measures to ensure we are protecting how we handle the problems that arise.
- Keep the “main things” in focus.
I’ll never forget the vivid memory I have as a kid and walking into the kitchen of my childhood home. Above the cupboards over the stove sat a wooden hammer carved out of a pine tree. Across the handle of that hammer read the phrase “The Attitude Adjuster”. I was constantly reminded that complaining wasn’t tolerated, gratitude was expected and mid-day snacking had consequences.
Dr. Lynell Burmark, an education consultant who writes and speaks about visual literacy states, “unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about seven bits of information (plus or minus 2). Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”
Our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
Surround your environments with visual reminders of what matters. For your office space, line the walls with your business’ purpose, vision and values. In your home, drape it with family photos and culture codes of conduct. If our attitude determines the level of results we see in our lives, we need to be proactive so that it can be protected.
- Give each situation the assessment it deserves
We’ve all done it. Heard a portion of the information and wrote the remainder of the script in our head because we’ve typecasted people in our lives or have become biased over time. Speaking to the leaders of people, this is not only unfair but it’s also disastrous. Information is powerful and if we’re going to put the puzzle together we owe it to all parties to have not just all, but the correct information. It’s easy to get overly worked up after hearing a small amount of details. You don’t have to look too far on social media to find groups of people who are outraged about situations they have very little insight on.
We owe it to our people to take the time to study, hear all sides and although that may be a longer process, it will produce better results. Leaders wear multiple hats at multiple times of the day. No one deserves to be a victim of your last conversation. Dig for the “full” story before allowing your attitude to guide you into conversational battles you simply don’t have the knowledge to win.
- Advancement is incremental, not immediate.
Our attitude is the outward expression of our character. Knowing this, when we are in the gap between where we are and where we know we should be, our attitude is the walking billboard that tells people how we’re handling that journey. Have you ever been in a line-up and someone in front of you loses their patience? You can almost watch it like a slow movie as their irritation grows. They huff, puff, reposition their stance multiple times then finally storm out of the line. Our first reaction as bystanders isn’t “man, this line is long”. It’s almost the equivalent of watching a toddler throw a tantrum.
When leading, we can’t afford to do this. Not in public and certainly not at home. How do we keep our attitude in check while waiting on the big things in life?
We celebrate the small wins as big wins.
Don’t look for the top line to increase everyday. Instead, focus on the smaller cogues of what you’re a part of and be willing to make big deals out of small things. Your focus will stay motivated, your attitude will remain goal driven and feeling successful and your team will join in the charge towards making the small wins happen in order to watch the big wins take place.
Do one small thing everyday that gives you a sense of accomplishment and watch how it balances your attitude towards patience and waiting for what’s coming down the line. Don’t underestimate the power of small wins, from someone else’s vantage point it could be a game changer for them.