It’s all in the attitude

It’s all in the attitude           

So what is attitude anyway and why is it important? I Googled it and this is the definition I liked best because to me it describes exactly why attitude is important:

attitude - a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways; “he had the attitude that work was fun”

The key here is that our attitudes decide our “dispositions to act in certain ways” – a persons attitude determines their thoughts, behaviours and actions, which ultimately determine the outcomes that the person achieves. What do I mean? Well lets look at a fairly common example from the world of work. In an organization I used to work in, we were trying to automate a very complex business process and the prevailing attitude was “it cannot be done”. I was leading the team and I heard every reason why it could not be done – from clients and the technical teams. It’s too complex, it’s never been done (usually the most oft-quoted reason), it’ll take too long, not part of the culture, it will cost a fortune, or simply it’s “impossible”. Because of this attitude, most people either never attempted to find a solution or just assumed any attempt would fail so they did not want to be affiliated with it. Thankfully I did not know any better so I just asked the question “how” and persisted till we all found an answer. The solution was a huge success and literally brought in millions of pounds of revenues and saved a lot of operational cost as well. Fortunately there were enough mavericks who refused to take no for an answer and stayed optimistic – we had a “can do” attitude, which I believe made all the difference.

It’s all about attitude because your attitude will either dispose you to take certain actions or not. Your attitude will determine whether you go for the plum job or ask for a bigger paycheck, take on stretching projects, roles and opportunities or just stay “safe” where you are. Specifically, your attitude about your self is the most critical to understand and shape to achieve the results you want. Let’s break attitude down into beliefs, values, feelings and dispositions.

Beliefs are a key building block of attitude and therefore success. I’ve already written about this in a previous blog and this is so important, I want to spend some time on it again. Our beliefs are fundamental to our mental make-up. This is very evident is sport – time and again super stars in the sporting arena talk about belief and how whoever has greater belief usually wins the match, all else being equal. Some examples of deep rooted beliefs are “I am clever”, “I am good”, I am capable”, “I can”, “It’s hard”, “life’s a struggle”, “you need to work hard for your money”. Our beliefs shape the way we experience the world to such a degree that we don’t even know this is happening. For example, if I have an underlying belief that life is hard, I am likely to work very hard because I believe I am supposed to, I will see problems in most situations because I’m always looking for the “hard” bit, I will most likely resent people who don’t seem to be having a hard life and will probably not be a very optimistic or happy person. The conversations I have will quite likely be about how hard everything is and I probably will not be an uplifting person to be around.

On the other hand if I have a belief that life is supposed to be fun (which I actually do!), then I will constantly be looking for fun in every experience, be more likely to be optimistic and generally be a more cheerful sort of person to be around. A very illuminating book about beliefs is “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton, which underscores how important our beliefs are not just to what we achieve but also in terms of our health. Beliefs are simply thoughts we keep thinking and are acquired, not inherent and can therefore be changed. For example you may have believed that Santa filled your stockings at Christmas as a child, which you probably (hopefully) don’t any more! For centuries people believed that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth, which of course we now know is not the case. We pick up beliefs from our families, parents, cultures, teachers, friends, TV, books and experience and can choose to change beliefs that don’t serve us. How? Sometimes we have an epiphane or aha moment (like when you first realized that Santa did not come down the chimney) and sometimes we can engage coaches and therapists to help us shift to more empowering beliefs with techniques like NLP and other coaching methodologies like visualization. Again this is very common in sport where a large part of a coaches role is to build the self-belief in their athletes – e.g. Jimmy Connor coaching Andy Roddick or Clive Woodward coaching England to a world cup victory in 2003. The good news is that “normal” people can also avail of these to transform their personal beliefs to supporting and empowering ones with the help of a coach and/or mentor.

So we’ve talked a little about attitude and why it’s important and how beliefs are elements that make up our attitude. Next time I will go into beliefs and feelings and how they shape our attitudes and impact our action so watch this space!

I’m also delighted to share some good news with all of you – Careershifters recently profiled me on their site and you can view the details at

Best wishes,


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