Attitude Matters — A Lot!

by: Ed Britton


(An excerpt from the Self-Work section of Ed’s 2014 collection Own Your Career)

 Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.

                                                                                                                 —  Zig Ziglar

Personal confession: In the past, I seriously questioned just how much difference something as soft as ‘attitude’ could make to a person getting what they want. I have (at my lower points) come up with the answer, “Not much compared to the ‘hard facts’ of life.”

A lot of very smart people would disagree. The Mayo Clinic, for example, writes that optimism and pessimism have measurable effects on physical health and well-being.

Research Psychologist Michael F. Scheier, (professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University), cites research that demonstrates the positive minded are better problem solvers, face and accept realities more readily, more frequently engage in behaviors that promote health and avoid illness, sleep better, exercise more and adhere more closely to prescribed rehabilitation programs. Pessimists don’t do that stuff. Who would you rather hire?

Trevor Blake, writing on BigThink, explains that neuroscientists have identified that the human brain retains the capacity to change structure into adulthood, responding to experiences real or imagined. Scientific research demonstrates that negative mental experiences (even just negative thoughts) lead to neural degeneration. I’ll spare you the details, but ‘neural degeneration’ is not happy.

Attitude can build or destroy.

I have spent a lot of time on the hiring side of the interview table and choosing contracts for services. I have never, and would never, hire any applicants who did not exude a positive and enthusiastic attitude about their work and life in general. People in the hiring seat are smart people and can usually tell if you’re putting it on or if this is the real you. It’s just not that hard to see.

The message here is that if you struggle with things like hope, happiness and finding the sunshine in your life – job one is to get a whole lot better at finding the joy – now!

It must be hope that we seek, above and before all else; … don’t just look for better job hunting techniques. Work, first of all, on your attitude … Lose hope, and the whole game is lost.

                                                                                                                              —  Richard Bolles

The really good part of the message is that hope and a positive attitude are under our command and control, and that it makes a huge difference.

Action: You can coach yourself in the critical area of attitude.

Try this: Frequently pause during the day and ask yourself, “What am I feeling at this moment?” Put a word to it, (happy, sad, hurt, angry, frightened, hopeful, excited, worried …). Once you have specifically identified your feelings, ask, “Is this a constructive or destructive feeling?” If it is a destructive feeling, you must transform it.

Ed BrittonEd Britton is a career and leadership coach who lives in Calgary, Canada. He also serves the IAC as the Director of Development and leads the Path to Mastery coaching triads program. Ed has a background in the physical sciences, in adult education and leadership development. After living in China for 10 years, Ed looks forward to a Canadian winter and cross country skiing! If you would like to participate in the Path to Mastery coaching triads program, please contact Ed at

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