Attitude Holds Key to Success

Of all the keys to success, attitude is by far the greatest factor that can be controlled. There are many moments in life that standout as epiphanies or "aha" moments, if you will. One such moment for me was when I was reporting on a seminar given by Michael Angelo Caruso, entitled How to Give Killer Presentations: Sell Your Products, Services & Ideas.

During the seminar, someone had mentioned that they could not stand their boss and it was really taking a toll on their work and their attitude. Caruso gave them a secret to handling difficult people. He said to put all feelings aside and find something you like about someone you don't like. Are they straight-forward? Perhaps a bit too brazen, but honest? The point was, if you could find just one or two good qualities about that person to focus on you’d be more apt to get along with them. (And if that doesn’t work, then consider seeking new employment!)

Hearing of that plight hit me like a ton of bricks because I realized this person, like most of us, was letting someone else control their attitude, without their conscious permission. We’ve all had a boss we didn’t like; they were too gruff, too strict, too demanding, the list goes on and on. But we don’t always stop to think of why they are the way they are; they could just be misunderstood. This goes for anyone with a negative impact on our lives – bosses, clients, spouses or friends. Why do we let their moods affect us?

The answer in one word is – ego. Our ego tells us that we cannot be treated in such a way that it demeans us or makes us feel less worthy than we are. Even Dale Carnegie addresses these issues in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People – a great read I picked up when I began interviewing local celebrities and high-ranking executives. "When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic," Carnegie wrote. "We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

"Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness," Carnegie concluded.

As soon as we can find the good in everything, we shall always have a pristine happy-go-lucky attitude that shines through. If you can see the perfection in everything, you’ll never be disappointed.

Make it a game of sorts to try to find something good in everything that happens, just for one day. Maybe you lost a sale or had an important client reschedule, or perhaps it was just a flat tire. Hopefully you can say, "At least I wasn’t traveling 70 mph on the freeway when it happened" or "I’m glad he chose not to do business with us, I can’t stand his negativity anyway."

And then smile, it goes a long way.

Add New Comment


  • Megann Willson

    Paula, I love your attitude. I'm not sure my happy-go-lucky attitude is pristine but I do know that when I changed my attitude, I changed my life. Thanks for the reminder about how valuable that is.

  • John Agno

    Experience has taught us that confidence precedes competence.

    A person in the office or a player in a game must first believe he or she can succeed by developing a winning attitude reinforced by skill-building practice.

    As each person's talents are built into strengths and then merged with others in the team, a positive energy emerges. This energy force builds and reinforces each individual's confidence to create a critical mass which is often referred to as "momentum" or "being in the zone." It is the coach's job to keep the momentum going; so as not to lose the positive energy flow.

    Here is a checklist of ten questions to help you evaluate how well your firm is building a winning attitude and the practiced ability to succeed:

    1. As the coach of your team, how much have you spent in the past year on personal development to improve your management and leadership skills?

    2. List what time and money was spent per employee over the last year in training and development activities to build on workplace talents.

    3. Does each manager have a good relationship with each direct report and know what that person needs to move to the next level in the firm?

    4. Does each employee have a clear understanding of what they can to do to increase their value to the company?

    5. In the last six months, has someone in the company talked to each employee about their progress in building skills and knowledge?

    6. During the past year, how many employees believe they had an opportunity at work to learn and grow?

    7. How many employees would say that their opinions at work count?

    8. How many employees know the vision or purpose of the company? Of those who know, how many consider their job important in accomplishing this vision or purpose?

    9. How many employees would say that they have a best friend at work?

    10. Who would the employee go to with a suggestion, complaint or concern at work?

    For your team, the best thing you can do is to demonstrate your leadership through one-on-one interpersonal relationships. You do this by participating in respectful conversations where you recognize your own feelings and those of others in building safe and trusting relationships.