Being Good At Something Is Never Good Enough

Being good at something… is never good enough.

In 1972, I was invited to a three-day interview at Emporia State University. And I was thrilled to have gotten that far. The search team had interviewed hundreds of applicants for their new position, and I made it to the finals. I would actually be on campus, would have a face-to-face interview with every professor in the Department of Communication, and I would teach classes so they could see how effective or ineffective I might be in the classroom.

It was a grueling process… as well as a bit intimidating. After all, the job would be different than the average professorship. I would not only be teaching students, I would be expected to teach the other professors how to teach a brand-new curriculum called Interpersonal Communication. And I was only 23 years old.

At the end of the three-day interview process, I’ll never forget the last meeting I had. It was with Dr. Karl Bruder, the chairman of the department — who would be my boss, if I got the job. Dr. Bruder was an imposing gentleman, dressed like a member of the British House of Lords, distinguished and formal in every sense of the word.

I nervously walked into his office, sat down, and waited for him to speak. His words still ring in my head. He said, “I’ve heard from the other professors. They’re saying lots of good things about you. It looks like you’re good, kid, darn good. But I’ll tell you this. I run a positive team around here, and that comes first. I don’t care how good of a teacher you are. If I hire you… and you ruin that team, you’re outta here. Got that?”

You bet I got it. Like I say in today’s “Tuesday Tip,”

=> Being good at something… is never good enough.

You’ve got to have more than expertise. You’ve got to have the right attitude and people skills to fit in, excel, and succeed.

Zig Ziglar says the same thing in his book, “Over the Top.” Ziglar says, “Skill alone will not take you over the top — or keep you there. You might possess the most advanced skill set in your profession, but if you have a doom-and-gloom attitude, you will become a liability to yourself, your team, and your organization. Peak performance can only be attained with the powerful combination of excellent skill and a positive, proactive attitude.”

=> Yet attitude is often overlooked.

In fact, I would venture to say that 99.9% of all classes on and off the job are focused on knowing something or being good at something. So little of the training is focused on attitude… the very thing that can be the make or break factor in so many situations.

That’s why I wrote my book called, “PIVOT” How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success.” I was saddened by the fact that many people just didn’t understand the importance of attitude. And I got sick and tired of authors and speakers saying “you should have a good attitude”… but they never told you how to get and keep a positive attitude. I wanted my book to fill that gap.

You see…

=> Your attitude is critically important.

But just in case you’re more of a technical person, if you tend to pooh-pooh this attitude stuff as silly nonsense, the great football coach Lou Holtz sets the record straight. Holtz says, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

Right on, Lou. In my 22 years of speaking to various organizations, I’ve come across lots of people who have lots of ability, but their attitude stinks. Their attitude not only gets in the way of them doing their very best, their attitude makes life miserable for everybody else.

In fact, your attitude will imprison you or embolden you. John Johnson knows that. Starting out at the bottom, with nothing, dealing with discrimination and unfair treatment, he pulled himself to the top of the business world with his attitude. Johnson says, “Men and women are limited not by the place of their birth, not by the color of their skin, but by the size of their hope.”

Johnson is absolutely correct. And his life is a testimony to the importance of having a positive attitude.

But some people don’t know what it means to have a positive attitude. So…

=> Here’s the real definition of a positive attitude.

It’s not what you might think. Some people think if they have a positive attitude… they’ll always be happy. Or they’ll never have a problem. Nonsense.

It’s not possible to be happy all the time. And life will always give you plenty of problems. But a positive attitude gives you the energy to get through your problems and feel better… a great deal more quickly.

William Arthur Ward gives one of the best definitions of a positive attitude I have ever read. Ward says, “Real optimism is aware of problems but recognizes solutions, knows about difficulties but believes they can be overcome, sees the negatives but accentuates the positives, is exposed to the worst but expects the best, has reason to complain but chooses to smile.”

When you look at Ward’s definition, how do you stack up?

If you tend to fall more on the negative side, or if your attitude could be more positive, I’ve got some really good news for you.

=> Your attitude can be changed.

Absolutely it can. So don’t be misled. Don’t go around telling yourself, “I can’t help the way I feel… That’s just the way I am… I can’t change.”

Yes you can! That’s what my “PIVOT” book is all about. It’s about attitude change. In fact, it’s more than a book to enjoy, read, and put aside. It’s really a step-by-step manual… disguised as a book… that will tell you HOW to change your attitude once and for all.

So no matter where you are now, just remember, your attitude is one of the most powerful forces you have working for you or against you. And there’s no better time than now to build your attitude.

Action:  Answer these questions about yourself. If you don’t like your answers, decide right now to go to work on your attitude.

*Are you more aware of the possible solutions in your life and work? Or are you focused more upon the problems?

*Do you believe your difficulties can be overcome? Or do you believe you’re simply stuck with those difficulties?

*Do you see the negatives but accentuate the positives?

*Can you see the best even when you’re exposed to the worst?