I find it interesting that we usually get from other people exactly what we expect of them. If we are looking for friendship, we will likely receive it. If our attitude is that of indifference, we will get indifference. And if we are looking for a fight, we will in all likelihood find ourselves in the middle of a fight.
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude has on me.
When it comes to success, attitude is more important than what happened in the past, more than your education, more than money, more than circumstances, and more than what other people think or say or do.
It is more important than giftedness or skill. Attitude will make or break an organization.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. And once we make that choice, we need to recognize that our attitude not only impacts us but will also lift or drag down others that we will engage with every day.
Can attitude really have that much impact on our success? Yes. An article in a leading research publication describes how a researcher tested the importance of attitude.
Testing For Attitude
A psychologist is seated at a desk. There is a knock on his office door. The psychologist says, “Come in.” A student enters. The psychologist says, “Sit down, please. I am going to read you a set of instructions. I am not permitted to say anything that is not in the instructions, nor can I answer any instructions about this experiment. OK?” The student is then given the test.
After the student has completed the test and left the office, there is another knock on the door. The psychologist says exactly the same words to a second student. The only difference is that this time he smiles as he says the words. He smiles in a friendly fashion. The only difference between the two episodes is the smile.
Will the smile affect the results of the experiment? Yes.
It not only can but does — in the laboratory, in the classroom and everywhere else in life. All other things being equal, the student who receives his instructions with a friendly smile will do better on the test than he would without the smile. The smile indicates that all is well and that the experimenter expects the student to perform satisfactorily, without any trouble. The student will live up to the expectations. He will fulfill the prophecy.
Without a smile, the situation becomes more tense. The serious expression on the part of the experimenter carries a ceratin forboding, a lack of confidence in the student’s ability to perform in a satisfactory manner. The student will not perform as well under this circumstance.
Impact of Attitude
These test, carefully conducted and measured, indicates the tremendous importance of attitude. Our attitude towards others tells them what we expect from them, and they will give us what we expect: they will fulfill the prophecy. We do this with ourselves, too. This is why those who say, “I’ll never be able to do that,” or, “With my luck, the whole thing will end in failure,” are unnecessarily handicapping themselves. Expecting to fail, they will increase their chances of failure.
The parent or spouse who keeps repeating to their family that they never do anything right, who continually criticizes and magnifies mistakes, is setting the stage for the family members failure in life. William James said that it is the attitude at the beginning of a difficult task that will, more than anything else, determine the outcome.
That is why the manager or coach of a baseball or football team is so important. The right kind of coach can make a great team using ordinary athletes. They will do what the coach expects of them.
This same impact from attitude applies to innovation. When an innovation leader projects an attitude of success, it sets the expectation that the team will be successful in delivering innovations that will lead to high impact products and services.
One way to set this expectation is to craft a BHAG – a bold harry audacious goal.
The best BHAG I have ever heard was when President John F Kennedy shared that “Before the end of the decade, we will deliver a man to the moon and return him safely.” He had no idea how this could be done, but he was convinced that it could and should be done — and projected an attitude of success.
It was a rallying cry that pulled people together to deliver on the expectation was set before them.
Seldom does an individual or a team exceed their own expectations.
What are your expectations? Aim high. Now have the attitude that goes with that expectation.
I’m Phil McKinney .. and thanks for listening.