Time for an Attitude Adjustment?

“Attitudes are contagious.  Are yours worth catching?” – Dennis and Wendy Mannering

We all know them right?  Those people whose life seems to be a constant struggle to find the silver lining.  They seem to think they are always getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop…always coming in last.  And, there are instances in everyone’s life where difficulty finds us no matter how hard we strive to reach a goal.  We all have storms we must endure.

Last week, we talked about the moments in life when we are tempted to stray from our goals.  We discussed that those moments were simply a single heartbeat – a test of your commitment to achieve your goals.  After all, if it were easy to change, everyone would be doing it!  But, in truth, it is easier to change than most people think.  Of course, committing to a change is a vital piece of the puzzle.  But there is a foundation that most people fail to build before embracing the decision to change: their attitude!

My mother used to tell me as a child (and yes, especially in my teenage years), “check your attitude at the door.”  Mom was right.  Time and again it has made the difference between 100% success and 100% failure. When faced with those moments of test and trial, the ability to bring the positive point of view to the table was the deciding factor in navigating choppy waters.  Plus, in so many cases, a positive attitude helps others tap into their own growth potential and see themselves in a stronger light.  This is particularly important as I work with clients who are facing the challenges of this current environment.

The important thing to remember is that having a positive attitude is not about faking a smile or being inauthentic with how you’re actually feeling at any given moment.  People can tell when you are faking it. (Horses can too!  Check this out:   But, the good news is that by making a shift in your attitude towards empowerment and away from victimization, you don’t have to fake it!  Your attitude can be real and promote strength in others as well as yourself.  For example, consider the way these situations would change with the right attitude:

  • A client calls with a complaint:  What a gift!  How many clients are feeling the same way without letting you know?  How can you clean up any of your messes (and we all make them) if you don’t know you’ve made them?  Don’t be defensive with the client. Be open. Listen. Hear what they are saying.  Most times, powerfully and effectively handling a client issue creates even stronger affinity and loyalty on their part.  So don’t beat yourself up (after all, people make mistakes and you are a person), use it as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with this client and improve your product/systems/service for the others.
  • Spouse is having a hard week at work.  Hey, we’re all having hard weeks at work. I get it.  But rather than trying to show how equally miserable and challenging your week was (i.e. stop keeping score), make it an opportunity to deepen your support and intimacy with each other.  Create space for them to share with you without making it about you.  Most times, they don’t need you to give them a solution, just a safe place to unload.  You can help by simply listening.  They will find the answer themselves.
  • Children are acting out.  I have found that with my own children, my patience and tolerance levels are in direct correlation to my own stress levels.  So who needs to take a time out – your kids or you?  If your schedule has been very busy and you haven’t been around as much, your stress levels are high and you are less ‘present’ even when you are there, or your children are bouncing from one activity to the next, they might need more of your attention and their behaviors are trying to serve as an attention-getter.  They just don’t have the capacity yet to request it from you (sounds like some adults I know).  Realizing that quality is more important than quantity, give your children the chance to schedule small blocks of your time to do what they will enjoy. And, leave your Blackberry in the drawer. 
  • You slip on your goal.  Once you fall down, hit a roadblock, or come up short, it is tempting to give up and disregard your goals altogether.  However, remember that all goals are arbitrary (think about it) and achievement is not a pass or fail process.  It is a measurement of a single point in time.  When you slip and fall, there are three things you need to do to get going again: Forgive yourself, Recommit to your goal, and immediately take an action step (even a small one) towards it.  This will shift you away from beat-yourself-up mode to give you a break so you can get going again.  There is a reason you set this goal for yourself.  If it is important to you, acknowledge the moment as part of the ride and readjust your attitude again.   Remember, you are not starting over.  You are simply continuing again!  Give yourself credit for the progress to date and keep moving forward.

Last week you chose one thing you wanted to change in your life.  What did you commit to do?  Did you set up yourself for success by making your goal a short term win as I suggested?  (Better to build from small successes than to realize ambitious failure, although there is great learning either way!)

Ready to take the next step of committing to your goal?  Start by determining why it is important to you and how it will impact your life when you achieve it.  If it’s overwhelming, it may be too big – make it smaller.  If it’s not lighting you up, it may be the wrong goal.  Change it to something meaningful.

Next week…we will discuss the methods for getting from impossible to possible.  Have your list ready and let’s put together a plan for achievement.

And…in celebration of what can be changed when we put our heart and soul into the effort, please join me in adding your comments to mine in my open letter to President Obama at and in reliving President Barack Obama 2009 Inauguration and Address


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