I once heard a small business owner tell his employees: "Your attitude is important; so pick a good one!" Wise words, indeed.
Three key findings come from it:
1. You have an attitude. It is unique to everyone else around you, although attitude is known to be highly contagious.
2. Your attitude likely determines your performance, acceptance and overall effectiveness.
3. You have the power to select an attitude. If you don't choose one, your environment will choose one for you.
A few weeks ago I had a consulting gig with a consumer products company. I hadn't slept well the night before, the day was gloomy and I was almost rear-ended in bumper to bumper traffic in LA. The three hour meeting was packed with action items, many of them requiring my analysis and comments. Driving home later that afternoon, I recounted the day's performance. It wasn't the 9 or 10 that I commit myself to. We came up with some great marketing solutions, but I wasn't happy with my motivational contribution to the meeting — there was a lack of excitement in the room.
When I recollected the meeting's events, I realized that I had the wrong attitude for the meeting. By not consciously choosing one, I let a bad night's sleep and bad LA traffic choose it for me. I vowed to be more emotionally intelligent in the future by selecting one of several attitudes prior to any client engagements: Grateful, Inquisitive, Excited, Committed, etc.
Last week, I gave a pro bono consultation to a non-profit. My flight the night before got in very late and LA traffic was its typical congested self. I listened to great music as I drove, contemplated which positive attitude I would choose and even had a short attitude-check in the car prior to walking into the client's office. It worked! The meeting was highly successful, addressing the agreed on issues plus leading to two breakthrough ideas for revenue generation. Everyone walked out of the conference on air.
Driving home I realized that there is an added benefit to having a great attitude, a positive feedback loop. When you have a performance at work that exceeds expectations and generates human enthusiasm, your chemical flow follows, generating DHEA and endorphins. You feel great, like you do when you have runner's high. As I've always told people: "If you are having a bad day, get in the car and go see a Customer — and have a rocking good meeting! That will solve the problem every time."