The other day my wife and I were talking with a man who was feeling negative about his marriage, unhappy about his work, beaten down at his church, disillusioned with the world, and pessimistic regarding his family. Attitude is everything, and his was worse than cynical. We worked hard to encourage him, but he only seemed more determined in his point of view. Before long we realized he thought he was counseling us! “Your problem is that you’re naïve,” he said, sourly. “If you’d be willing to open your eyes to reality, then I think you’d see a change in attitude.”
My wife, not one to mince words, had the perfect response. “We’ve been married almost 37 years,” she said. “We had some remarkable challenges with our children. For over three decades, work has never been easy but always joyful. By now, I think we’ve moved well beyond naïveté and deep into belief!” Call it what you will, but dogged belief and the intentional leaning in the direction of a positive attitude can be game changers in our work and our relationships. Consider the following ideas that help to remind us that attitude is everything.
1. Belief is likely the most critical factor when predicting success.
Belief is likely the most critical factor when predicting success.Our ten-year-old daughter was not the best-prepared piano student when it came time for the class recital, but she loved playing and she believed in herself 110%. All three girls who played ahead of her had prepared meticulously, practicing long hours, but they lacked conviction. Can you guess who folded and who brought the house down?
2. Initial trajectory is critical.
The attitude you get out of bed with, bring to breakfast, or, at least, carry into the office with you from the car tends to be the one that rules the day. That’s why making a deliberate choice to begin the day, the meeting, the conversation, the conflict, the meal with your spouse with a hopeful, positive tone will not only set the course but actually affect the outcome.
3. Even smiling on the phone changes a conversation.
You can try this at home for free! There are two specific behaviors that profoundly affect the positive progress of phone conversations. First, getting onto my feet, preferably moving around, while I’m talking. Second, and even though the person on the other end can’t see you, deliberately smile while talking. It may be true that positive things can make you smile, but it’s even truer that smiling makes for positive outcomes.
4. “Facts” do not always tell the whole truth.
Given the same collection of “facts,” two individuals can respond completely differently because of attitude. Essentially, this is the half full vs. half empty conversation. But it goes further. Problems become opportunities, failures are seen as learning. The right attitude can welcome a challenge while the wrong attitude can complain about all the obstacles. As a married couple, my wife and I certainly couldn’t be enjoying our fourth decade together without the help of belief when cynicism suggested that we go our separate ways.
5. Be a leader, attitude is contagious.
This is an important truth to remember. Our moment by moment lives constantly tell the truth about what we believe. As dads, we are by definition leaders. If we are sour, we testify to our cynicism and our family, our co-workers, and our friends follow right along. If we whistle while we work, chances are the entire crew will be singing a happy tune. We can’t say, “I’m a believer” while complaining and whining all day long. Our attitude bears a more credible testimony than our words. But don’t despair, the good news is that we can also be a positive witness to ourselves. All we need to do is to get the ball rolling—and that takes faith.
Sound off: What do you do to maintain a good attitude?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your family and ask, “Who has the best attitude among people you know? How can we be more like that?”