Attitude Is Not Everything
For many years, I’ve always valued attitude as key differentiator. Attitude by and large is a critical influencer on how I decide to engage and connect with people.
Why? Because I’m a personal testament to the fact that attitude is crucial to one's success.
I have personally progressed in my career because of my attitude. When everyone is running the other way, I’ll step up and take the work with open arms and do it with a smile.
My father taught me that there is no work that is beneath me. The reason why your manager asked you to help or do the work is because the work needs to get done. Therefore, I do it and get it done.
As I write this, one quote that comes to mind is that of my mentor John Maxwell as I’m a member of his team:
"People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude."
This is very true. When you enter a room and the people you've met welcome you with open arms, you certainly can feel the warm welcome and sense of acceptance. Attitude is the same. People want to work with people with a good attitude more than they want to work with those who have a bad attitude.
Over time this concept of attitude is everything has changed for me. While having a good attitude helps, it is not the end all be all. What do I mean? A person can have a good attitude, but if they are not equipped, educated and capable of doing the job, the attitude can only help so much. At some point they need to deliver. This is when I have the rude awakening.
While attitude is important, we need to make sure we have a plan to help our people develop, because attitude can only go so far. While attitude is a key differentiator , I know that I have the responsibility to make sure people who have potential and the propensity to learn new things are given the support that can help them help the organization achieve its goal.
In conclusion consider this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."
I still believe in attitude as key to people’s success, but I also value people who are committed to continuous learning and making it happen.
Sounds like we have something in common… dads who were wise, and knew that building sons with character was their highest calling… loved the quote about your dad-
“My father taught me that there is no work that is beneath me.”
My dad lived a life very similar… I remember when he had just become the president of a community college, and they had just established the foundation, which would be a vehicle for people to donate to the school for scholarships and projects. Believe it or not, they decided to do a “bike-a-thon” around the local lake. Rather than show up as a dignitary, shaking hands and making speeches, my dad showed up in his maroon & gold warm up suit (school colors), and rode my brother’s ten speed bike the 5 mile course. If others were doing it, he was going to lead by example. That’s stuck with me all these years. Thanks for the reminder, from your dad and from mine that no job should be beneath us as leaders.
Hi, Will – this post is Gold:)
I believe you have just described the essence of servant leadership: an attitude toward helping others, combined with acquiring the skills and tools to help you do so effectively.
I especially like and will remember your terming of attitude as a “key differentiator”. A person can be equipped to serve, but if they do not also possess the will to serve, they will not use the tools. Sort of like having that exercise bike in your basement … if you do not have the will or motivation to actually use it, you just have a very expensive rack to hang things on:).
You mentioned continuous learning at the end, almost in passing, so I would add that I see this as essential for true servant leadership. If we approach life as one continuous learning curb and use both formal and informal means to continuously learn, we are far better equipped to help others than if we just want to help. Our lives are in continuous flux and if we do not embrace this reality, we will be emotionally stuck in the past and no good to anyone.
Enjoyed your post quite a lot – thanks again for sharing your and your dad’s wisdom:)
You wrote this, Will and did a fantastic job of expressing the thoughts in my head that I could never articulate so well. I have been blessed with a positive attitude. I have retained jobs when others were let go and I know it’s because of my attitude when that was the only differentiating factor. But there is the whole enigma of ability that no matter how positive my attitude, it can’t compensate for lack of skill. My attitude enables me to accept that fact though and find something I can do instead of what I cannot. One of my mottoes is ” Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot.”