Attitude Is Everything – Additional Thoughts
“Your attitude today, determines your success tomorrow.” Keith Harrell
My April post on attitude was inspired by Keith Harrell and my own journey with attitude. One of my readers loved the post, but wanted a little more “meat on the bones.” A fair request. As a result, this month I will discuss one of the ten areas that I mentioned in my last column, and attempt to put a little ‘meat on the bones.’ The area I will discuss is “Identify through self-awareness the attitudes that hold you back and propel you forward.” I will use some of Keith’s references from Attitude is Everything, along with my own insights.
I hope you find the information meaningful and that it will help you better understand what you are ‘choosing.’
Be well and do your best work,
Attitude – Self Awareness of Choices
Dr. Phil often uses the phrase, “How’s that working for you?” That is the shortened version of, “Is what you are doing getting you what you want?” We know that change is not possible until there is a perceived ‘gap’ between where we are and where we want to go/be. That gap is the motivation for all change.
How often do you reflect on those choices, or ‘attitudes,’ and whether they are working for you or against you? One of these choices that I see is people’s tendency to be ‘hijacked’ by the emotional center of their brain (the Amygdala). An Amygdala Hijack (term coined by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence) occurs during the fight, flight or freeze stress response. An Amygdala Hijack is an immediate and overwhelming emotional response out of proportion to the stimulus because it has triggered a more significant emotional threat.) In short, we overreact.
How long a person is ‘hijacked’ is their choice. No one starts out with this understanding. They see their reaction as ‘something they were born with.’ The truth is that our first response to stimuli is an emotional response. How long we are in that heightened emotional state, however, is learned, and can be unlearned. It can only be unlearned if we are aware of its impact, and we desire something different.
This is just one example of the many choices we make. Taking an inventory of how things are going at work, in our relationships might tell us a lot about ‘what’s working.’ Am I being recognized in a good way at work? Is my relationship with my boss and co-workers positive, or have one or more of these relationships become more negative? Same with your personal relationships – spouse, significant other, children. Are they working? If your inventory of these areas comes back with a more negative evaluation, it might be time to take a close look at the behaviors (attitudes) you are displaying. Be aware of what you are feeling during your various interactions. That is a key to understanding what is driving certain emotions and triggers. Your self-awareness is key to understanding how you are contributing to what you see.
Harrell cites that there is past, present, and future ‘baggage’ affecting us –
“I had thought before I said that.”
“I’d stayed in school.”
“I’d listened to my parents.”
“I’d let someone else drive.”
“I’d put more effort into the relationship.”
“I hadn’t taken _______ for granted.”
Regret about the past. The past can weigh you down until, or unless, you find ways to let it go and move on.
“My wife is unhappy. What now?”
“I’ve been downsized. What now?”
“I hate my job. What now?”
Present problems. Are we able to work the solutions, or do we continue to work the problem(s)?
“I lose my job”
“I run out of money”
“My kids have problems”
“I have a serious health problem”
Future concerns. Are these concerns real concerns, or are we over reacting? Planning for the future is one thing. Being overly concerned about the future will sap our energy, and likely lead to increased Fear (Keith defines fear this way – False Evidence Appearing Real; I like that). Fears operates in the future and can be debilitating if we can’t get things in proper focus. I have found it helpful to focus on what I have control over to help ‘settle’ my emotions.
Past, present, and future challenges require different things from us. Whether that is about letting go, or shifting to solutions, or doing a reality test on the future, our attitude is critical. Do we often display a negative attitude during these moments? If yes, what is the source. Harrell cites five key sources of a negative attitude – lower self-esteem, stress, fear, resentment and anger, or an inability to handle change? Knowing the source is helpful. It is also helpful to know, in any given circumstance, what our attitude is. This takes some practice because we don’t often think about what our attitude is, and how that is impacting the experience we have.
Have you ever had a negative attitude about an upcoming meeting, event, or a person you were going to see? What was your experience? Often, that negative attitude can foreshadow a more negative experience. Conversely, have you ever started with the negative attitude and, realizing it, said, “I need a different way to think about this” and as a result you were able to find a more positive attitude which propelled you to a different, more positive, experience? Self-awareness for all of us is a key tool in our success. There are moments, many of them, where we can change the outcome of an upcoming event by understanding the power of our attitude and make a different choice.
From time to time I will choose another one of Keith’s insights about attitude to write about. Let me know if you find this helpful.
To a better you…
Of Interest: Amygdala Hijack & Emotional Intelligence – YouTube
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