Blog Post 6: The next several blog posts will focus on what I consider one of the most important success traits to have; a Positive Attitude. I’ll discuss how to measure it, cultivate it, move towards enhancing it and keeping it.
Friends following this blog may know how much I took from my time spent at IBM, the ultimate positive attitude company. IBM was relentless in its pursuit of creating a positive attitude in its employees. It was drilled into us, our compensation was often tied to it and a negative attitude was the ultimate weakness, the kiss of death. I’m not talking about blindly being a ‘pollyanna’, making believe everything is perfect, or kissing up to your superiors. I’m talking about Can Do, Don’t Make Excuses, and Take Ownership of Issues. Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.
IBM has become one of the biggest and best companies in the world, and they did it by building an army of people that looked at obstacles as challenges and opportunities. They understood something vital; every business has problems, every life is filled with challenges – the difference between success and failure is when someone stops complaining and starts solving. Difficult tasks were “Opportunities to Excel”, and the tougher the task, the better the reward. Don’t whine, think positive, think overcome and think Solutions. You will not be able to overcome every obstacle but you will be admired and rewarded for giving it your best.
Having a positive attitude is the compass that drives your growth, and the thing that others cling to in their desire to help you move forward in your career. It speaks of your ability to overcome obstacles, which in turn allows others to trust you with more and more responsibility, and to think of you first when an opportunity comes up. You will be noticed as someone deserving of a promotion, job offer or increased pay. People will want to work with you. They’ll ask your advice or demand that you be on project teams or advisement counseling boards. Respect, growth, success; they are all so closely linked to your attitude.
Now that I’ve made it clear how important I view this trait, how can we know where we stand? You may think you have a great attitude, but your friends, coworkers, boss or therapist might disagree. It’s very important to get an objective view. Thankfully there are some tools that can help to check the level of your attitude now, and provide some guidance on enhancing it even more.
The Psychology Today website has some great resources to help you figure out where on the scale of optimism/happiness you fall. There is a quick hit, online test you can do called Happiness Quiz, under the Tests, Health tab. This is a free, short test (10 questions) which provides a snapshot of how you view the world with a few paragraphs of worthwhile advice on adjusting your attitude to be more positive. There is also a longer, more in depth test (47 questions, appx. 20 minutes), located under the Tests, Personality tab as Optimism/Pessimism. This test will ask questions about a number of situations or facets of life, and provide a short, but interesting summary at the end. A full breakdown of the test results is available for a small fee ($4.95 at the time of writing this post), and is a very worthwhile investment in your self-awareness and growth. The full breakdown lists results, interpretation and advice concerning 5 different categories; Hopefulness, Sense of Belonging, Coping Skills, Cynicism and Sense of Invincibility. The information is clearly displayed and each category is graded on a 0-100 scale, so you can see immediately if there’s anything you may want to focus on. In addition to these resources, you may want to spend the time and money on completing a full Myers-Briggs personality test, available from a number of places online. These tests are frequently used by employers and universities for both growth and placement purposes.
Without knowing where we stand, it’s difficult to know which way to improve and move forward. Fortunately, a positive attitude is a skill like any other, and will get stronger with effort applied. There are countless examples of people who have accomplished amazing things as a result of their attitude and Can Do spirit. You can most likely find great examples amongst your friends, family, and mentors. Make them your heroes. Emulate them. Alternatively, minimize time with negative people, gossipers, those who may have a victim mentality who make more excuses rather than really owning and learning from their success and their failures.
The next few blog posts will expand on what each of us can do to improve our outlook and ‘attitude’ skill. There are a number of tools that I’ve used to foster a positive mental outlook. We will discuss the uses of meditation, acupuncture, physical exercise, counseling, medical options and others.
As always, please let me know your comments, suggestions and any tools or attitude adjusters you employ. Rob