“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”
Dale Carnegie, personal development expert
For 30 years, the late-night talk show host, Johnny Carson, would put on a turban and play the role of “Carnac The Magnificent.” He would pull out an envelope on which an answer would be written. After a brief pause … where we, the audience, were asked to guess the question that went along with that answer … Carnac opened the envelope to reveal the question. It was a great gig and great part of television history.
For example, the answer is: Polynesia. And the question? What do you call memory loss in parrots?
The answer is: Good til the last drop. And the question? What’s a lousy slogan for a parachute company?
The answer is: Flypaper. And the question? What’s the best thing to use if you want to gift-wrap a zipper?
And to give you an answer and question of my own. The answer is Attitude. And the question? What accounts for 80% of your success?
It’s true. Look at all the research on emotional intelligence that comes to that very same conclusion.
While it’s important to know how powerful a positive attitude is, it’s even more important to know how you can get and keep a positive attitude. It’s the FOURTH of 12 keys I teach in my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program … coming to Dallas on May 1-2, 2014. Here are a few tips to help you develop your attitude.
1. Think about what you’re thinking about.
Some people will say, “I’ve got so many problems in my life, and all these problems are getting me down.” But they’re wrong. Their problems aren’t getting them down; it’s their thoughts about the problems that have gotten them down.
You see, if you’re bored, discouraged, depressed, or overwhelmed, you must understand that nobody and nothing made you feel that way. As harsh as this might sound, you CHOSE to respond that way to your circumstances. After all, somebody else in the same situation might feel excited about all the challenges in his work life because he knows that might open up an opportunity for advancement. Somebody else might feel committed to making her relationship better when she recognizes that her behavior is hurting rather than helping the relationship.
It all comes down to what you’re thinking about your situation. If you are thinking negatively about it, you will end up with negative feelings and a negative attitude. But if you CHOOSE to think about your situation more positively, you will have more positive feelings and a more positive attitude.
It’s up to you. As author Judith Knowlton puts it, “I discovered I always have choices and sometimes it’s only a choice of attitudes.”
2. Do your best.
Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds trite. Sounds like something your mother told you when you were six years old. Turns out she was right. You cannot have a positive attitude if you do just enough to get by.
As I speak in organizations across the world, I’m continually amazed and amused by The Great Standoff. In other words, some people do just enough work so they won’t get fired, and the company pays the employee just enough so they won’t quit. It’s not exactly a recipe for a positive, productive work environment.
Even though you may be tempted to think, “They don’t pay me enough to work any harder,” it may be time to re-think your attitude. After all, there is no way you can feel good about yourself if you do just enough to get by. Deep down somewhere in your soul, you know that just-enough-to-get-by behavior makes you feel like a cheat, a sneak, or a loser. And you also know you feel the very best about yourself when you do your very best.
So what’s more important in the long haul? Cutting corners in your job, doling out inferior work, and losing some of your self-respect in the process? Or working a little harder, doing a little more, giving your best … so you can live at peace with yourself? Obviously the latter.
The more often you do your best, the more you reinforce your positive attitude.
And thirdly, for today’s purposes…
3. Act-as-if you already have a positive attitude.
In other words, the way you behave affects the way you feel. If you walk around looking sour, grim, and crabby, you will build an inside attitude that corresponds with that. But if you walk around looking secure, confident, and competent, you will undoubtedly build that kind of positive attitude inside.
As Dr. William James, one of the founding fathers of modern-day psychology said, “We do not sing because we are happy; we are happy because we sing.” In other words, feelings often follows behaviors. Act like you’ve got a positive attitude and you will get a positive attitude.
Credit Manager Joan Baca, after attending my “Journey to the Extraordinary” experience wrote me the following note. She wrote, “I need to report to you my ‘act-as-if success.’ I’m amazed myself! My work days have flown by and I am finding new enthusiasm for my work. Even though my duties haven’t changed … my attitude has!”
Of course, you may be saying that sounds nice in theory, but should you act? Etiquette specialist Marjorie Brody offers a wonderful list. She says:
To Project Confidence When Standing…
– Stand up straight.
– Keep your feet still.
– Keep your shoulders relaxed.
To Project Confidence When Seated…
– Sit up straight.
– Lean slightly forward.
– Keep your feet still – no tapping.
To Project Confidence When Moving…
– Move purposefully.
– Have a deliberate stride.
– Look ahead, not at the floor.
To Project Confidence When Using Gestures:
– Use reinforcing gestures, no fidgeting or flailing.
– Gesture with open hands, no pointing.
– Vary gestures.
To Project Confidence When Using Facial Expressions:
– Have direct eye contact without staring.
– Be animated.
There you have it. Some of the thoughts you need to think and the behaviors you need to exhibit to build and keep a positive attitude. Now, as Nike says, just do it.