Focus on Attitude First

If you don’t follow Robert Twigger’s blog you probably should. Anyone curious about stretching their mind and body and learning more about how to excel should read his blog.

In an interesting post recently he wrote:

We worry a bit about our mental capacity, our IQs, memory, grades, skills, talents and so on but less, it seems, about our attitude. Whereas attitude is by far the biggest element in determining the success of any outing, project, work, journey.

This is a fine point we need reminding of regularly.

On the professional end, I’ve been managing in a large organization for over 20 years. I can say definitively that attitude is far more important, and far more predictive of success, than skill (most of the time) when selecting or hiring someone for a position. Sure, there are positions where being highly skilled from the get-go is more important, but in a lot of cases that’s not the case. We need a base level of skill and talent and then we can work from there.

Someone can be highly skilled and talented, but their bad attitude is toxic, combative, and creates a lot of problems for the mangers and the team. It’s not worth the trouble, believe me. Someone with a good attitude that is teachable and open to learning can be trained, improved, and coached to the level of competency you need. And because of they have a good attitude they work well with others and add value to the team. Another major side benefit is good attitudes are contagious.

On the personal end, I know, as many of you do, that I can only do the best I can with the skills, talents, and other mental capacities I currently have. I can try to improve them, as many of us work at all of our lives, and certainly we should. In fact, I find this process of learning and self development the greatest joy of life. But most of us realize, if we’re self aware, that attitude is everything ultimately. Try as we may, if our attitude sours we’re done. We can only go so far with what our mental capacities are. And the truth is some of our mental capacities may never improve.

But with a good attitude we have the emotional capacity that allows us to work and succeed within the mental capacities we have. More importantly, with a good attitude we’re resilient. We approach life and its challenges with an acceptance for who we are and a willingness to believe all will be well if we keep trying.

So I think whether it’s at work or in your personal life focus on attitude first. Once you have the right attitude you’re more likely to be able to harness the skills and talents more effectively.