Success is often regarded as a product of uncompromising zeal and that innate quality to confront obstacles and convert them into opportunities. That innate quality generally referred to as attitude is what distinguishes the “extra” from the ordinary, valuable from the dispensable and leaders from the crowd.
Lou Holtz, American football coach and analyst had said: “Ability is what you`re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
Much of what we achieve in our career and life in general can be attributed more to who we are than what we know. For, it is our temperament of reacting to stimuli around us which determines how well we cope, perform and influence. Attitude is therefore, an intuitive emotion, one which cannot be instantly crafted to the demands of a job description or personal circumstance. It is, on the contrary, a cumulative representation of our values and outlook born as a response to continuously changing life situations. Our core repertoire of beliefs as manifested in our attitude, in fact, cannot be altered overnight. However, it has a strong impact on the way we act during transition.
In the modern job market and workplace, employers are increasingly focused on “hiring for attitude and training for skill”. Owing to rising standards of education and intense global correspondence, screening talent solely on the basis of skill and competence is proving to be extremely challenging for hiring managers. There are just too many right applicants for a single job posting these days. However, only a few exhibit the right attitude necessary for performing the associated tasks.
Mark Murphy, author of “Hiring for attitude”, in an interview with Forbes mentions that in a study of around 20, 000 hires, 46% new hires were reported to have failed in the first 18 months. Surprisingly, when they failed, 89% of the time was due to attitude problem and only 11% of the time due to lack of skill. Companies known to be great employers – Google, Apple, Southwest Airlines etc., are believed to invest heavily in recruiting candidates with the positive attitude and facilitate post-hire training for any skill gap. HR managers have begun to monitor and document behavioral attributes of the company`s top performers. These can in turn serve as ready benchmarks in the future to conduct personality assessment exercises at the time of recruiting.
Employees known to have completed relatively long periods of service with an organization, do so because they successfully exhibit an attitude which is in sync with the organization`s shared culture.
Winston Churchill had once famously said “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”. An individual`s ability to cope in adversity and embrace the evolving work environment ultimately reflects his/her leadership characteristics.
So what does that mean for you?
Should you be focused on developing the right attitude – is that something that can be done? Is it not an innate element of who you are?
No, it is not, you can change and evolve to eventually reflect the right attitude. While calling a particular attitude as ‘right’ is a very subjective thing in general, even more so as it may be unique to every organization, however, you should focus on cultivating the right attitude for what your goals represent.
If you want to be extremely successful such that you dream to reach the pinnacle in whatever you do, then clearly you will have to work extremely hard. Put your career choices through the pressure test to see whether the career you perceive to be a good fit truly matches what you care about.
A clear example of this is students enrolling into B-School aspiring for a career in Investment Banking or Consulting but a few weeks into their internship and they discover it is not the right fit. They either dislike the lifestyle, work culture or the Type A people that surround them.
Remember attitude is not a constant thing, it does evolve and while some organizations may attempt at defining attitude, it does not encompass ability or aptitude.
What can be easier is, to identify what is generally not regarded as a positive attitude as that is more universally agreed upon. It serves as a far less subjective rule book, as it were.
Here are a few things to focus on:
Humility with Self Confidence
There is a fine line between arrogance and self confidence. While it is imperative to have self confidence to pursue excellence, arrogance on the other hand is very easily noticed. Make sure that in conversations with others, whether in group assignments or team work or even interviews and coffee chats, etc. you don`t come across as arrogant. This is critical for most employers. Almost all work today, gets done in teams and no one likes to work with arrogant people. Come across as arrogant and no matter how strong your skills, chances are no one would want you in their team or organization. Another reason why this is important is that since college students enter the job-market with entry level positions, progressing through the organization seems daunting as it requires they follow instructions, win trust and influence others to support their ideas.
Perseverance and Hard Work
Without hard work, it’s impossible to excel at anything – this is really one of those universal things. Whether it is succeeding in a student led organization, writing a great term paper, landing a cool internship, getting promoted or landing a dream job- everything requires hard work and meeting commitments. This is one thing that you should really reflect on. How far you are willing to go to actually succeed at something because working hard at one thing requires you give up on other things. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day. This will help you truly learn how much you care about something. Those that look like rockstars in music, sports, grades, etc have worked like maniacs to get there. If this is your goal, you will need to do the same. If it feels like too much of a chore, perhaps you should reconsider your goals and delve deeper into what you really enjoy. You would be pleasantly surprised to learn that hard work may not be such a pain!
Can Do Attitude
This is often the most desired attitude by any organization. What does it even mean? Don’t we all have a can-do attitude? If not, how else do we even exist and get by? No! Everyone does not have a can-do attitude. For you to have a can-do attitude means you are someone who a) believes that he/she can do anything and b) is then, willing to do whatever it takes to get it done. It requires a combination of self confidence, hard work and commitment. People with a can-do attitude find the power within themselves to accomplish any task at hand, even if they don’t have the required skills or resources. Somehow, as if magically, they are able to develop the skills and align the resources necessary to confront challenges.
While these 3 types of attitude are almost universal, the way they are applied in different contexts may vary largely based on how passionate you are about what you do. For, how you feel while performing a task or even a role truly indicates whether it is a good fit or not. The last thing you want is for you to keep doing things you don`t enjoy because somehow they fit your mental image of success. However, while at it, you struggle to experience the right attitude. So, focus on what you enjoy and improve your attitude and work ethic so you can really flourish as you chart your dreams, goals and ambitions!