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Attitude: It really does make a difference

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Nathan Johnson
  • 6th Medical Support Squadron
I once had a boss who told all who would listen, "Limitations Are Self-Imposed!" We heard this saying so often we often joked about it. Any challenge that we as an organization were presented with were tackled head on. The words "we can't" were replaced with "let's see how we can." After being around this boss for a year or so, most of us realized our attitudes had actually changed. I did a lot of thinking about this and I came to the conclusion that his attitude was the only variable that had changed in the equation. In other words, one individual's positive attitude influenced an entire organization.

Several times during my Air Force career, I've heard someone say, "Attitude influences altitude." Is it possible this altitude is truly linked to attitude? How do we "get" a positive attitude like this and how can we use this attitude to influence others? Could a positive attitude be a force multiplier in your work setting? I've never seen answers to these questions in a textbook, but my experience has shown eight simple things to improve our attitude.

1. The first tip is very simple. Believe in your co-workers. There will always be some who don't perform up to our expectations or standards. However, the vast majority will do wonders if given the opportunity. Plan for and expect greatness! You will be amazed at quick improvements in their attitude.

2. When conveying expectations, use positive examples and tone of voice. Remember, there is only one letter difference between "I can" and "I can't." Fertilize your workplace with "I can" attitudes.

3. Follow the golden rule; treat others as you would like to be treated. Your reputation as a leader who treats people fairly will go a long way on improving your subordinate's attitudes. A friend of mine, former LSU basketball Coach Dale Brown, said it best, "In any leadership position, the most important aspect of your job will be getting your team to work together. The underlying theme of teamwork will be your ability to convey a renewed sense of optimism. Your role as the captain will give the ship direction, purpose and ultimately success."

4. I once worked with a child psychologist. Whenever she saw someone with a less than optimal attitude, she would say, "Fake it until you make it." The thought here is by telling yourself that things are good, you start to look at the good instead of the bad. Negative attitudes spread like wildfire. Positive attitudes are the quickest way to extinguish negative attitudes.

5. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Numerous studies have shown that individuals who exercise regularly have a more positive outlook on life than their sedentary peers.

6. Get a good night's sleep. It's extremely hard to have a positive attitude while yawning all day!

7. Give back to your community. There are so many ways to do this. If you like to coach, then coach. If you like to get involved in your church, then do it. You like a clean world, then pick up some trash. Volunteerism really does improve the average person's mental state.

8. Read up on this subject. There are numerous books you can look at. A good one to start with is Norman Vincent Peale's "The Power of Positive Thinking."
These tips may not seem like much, but I challenge each and every one of you to take a close introspective look at them and how they may influence your attitude. And never forget, "Limitations are self imposed!"