Attitude is everything. How many times have we heard this cliché, or read an article on why attitude is essential and how to “change” it? Does it mean we just need to be “happy” all the time and fake it when we aren’t? Why is it toted as such a simple thing, when it’s not? What does it even mean?
Attitude is a very important subject to me, as I have been told that I always seem happy, smiley, bubbly, and outgoing. The problem with this belief is the “always” part. It’s strange to me when I get asked “are you ever upset?” or “I can’t imagine you mad.” I’m a human! Of course, I get upset, angry, frustrated, stressed—all of the above. People who know me better see the variations of me. But through it all, I am generally a joyful person, and I have been told I have a great attitude (cue the overly-bright smile).
The problem is that I believe having a good “attitude” gets all tangled up with being “outgoing and bubbly.” This is an issue because being upbeat is part of my wiring, my personality. There are so many different personality types out there, ranging on a gradient from highly introverted to extremely extroverted. If you are a quieter person you may be perceived as “having a bad attitude” when really you are deliberative and take time to make decisions and speak up. If you are more outgoing, you can be perceived as “overly emotional” at times, and this can also seem like a bad attitude.
We believe a good attitude transcends personality. So as an employer, employee, owner, or anything in-between, let’s consider the top five things that we think make a great attitude.
1. Adapting to changing situations quickly and efficiently.
This includes having a good attitude while you change directions! If change is as common as the clichés suggest, we might as well use every moment to learn how to pivot faster and have a good time doing it. Something that might help with this is to be realistic about the good AND the bad things that a change will bring. Then you can make a list of ideas to counter the bad effects, and find joy in the benefits the change will bring.
2. A true willingness to work in a team, without seeking personal glory.
This one is hard for me, and I would say anyone who cared about getting good grades in school has a hard time with this as well. Even during group projects, we were scored individually. I worked hard! I want the recognition, the glory. But there isn’t a place for that in a well-functioning team. Striking a balance between confidence and humbleness is a struggle, but the results are worth it.
3. Being authentically ourselves, through the good days and bad.
Being authentic with those that we work with means being honest with where you are at in the moment. Again, it is a balance. It means that when you are having a really hard day, you don’t ignore it and try to just keep moving. You stop, take a moment, and communicate with those you work with so everyone is on the same page.
4. Honesty, even when it is hardest.
This is obvious but also difficult! When you do make a mistake, or something goes wrong, you must trust your team enough to be honest—always. Most of the sitcoms that we love are built around hiding mistakes from friends, family, or coworkers, but the plot inevitably falls apart. It’s entertaining when it’s happening to actors, but the damage these kinds of actions cause in real life can be detrimental.
5. Forgiving others, forgiving ourselves.
When athletes make a mistake, they must move forward and focus on the next play. If they get self-centered and focused on their mistake, they will not only play badly, but they will also bring down the rest of the team. We must strike a balance between forgiving others when they make a mistake, but also holding each other to a high standard. This is also a balance that is hard to strike, but if forgiveness is at the center, everyone can move forward.
The truth is, we are human. We make mistakes, we get emotional, we have bad days. But we are also unique, important, and valuable. Don’t strive to have a “good attitude” if what that means is faking a smile. We learn and grow through our actions. Most of all, don’t be discouraged if this list seems hard to accomplish. We are all on a journey! Forgive yourself—the next play is yours.