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Positive attitude beats aptitude

You may have heard the saying “altitude determines your altitude”. It means that attitude will determine how successful someone will be, rather than just their ability.

I have come to believe that a positive attitude is far better than a high skill level, in many situations.

I’ve seen leaders make excuses for disruptive team members because they are highly competent. They avoid difficult conversations about attitude, behaviour and how they affect others, because they are scared of losing the skills from their team.

This is short-sighted thinking. What is often forgotten is the damage that your “high performer” can cause to those around them.

Useless? Or just not doing the right work?

I was once leading a team where one person was considered to be a mediocre performer. People spoke about him like he was useless. What I noticed about him was that he had the best attitude in the team, he was just in the wrong role.

So, we changed things around. He focused more on coordinating tasks and communicating than doing the technical work. He found a niche in the team and made a positive difference.

So here are my top four reasons why a positive attitude beats aptitude.

1. A positive attitude is infectious

All of our attitudes and behaviours have the ability to affect those around us. So, it’s important that these attitudes and behaviours are constructive.

When someone in your team believes they can succeed, tries hard to accomplish their tasks and sees problems as challenges rather than dead-ends, this is a valuable commodity.

2. People can learn new skills, but attitude is hard to change

Learning new skills is relatively easy. There are thousands of free online resources to learn just about anything. There are paid training courses, conferences, schools, universities, colleges. The options are endless.

Have you heard of many available resources to change your attitude? Perhaps some self-help books or coaching. But this all takes time and is much more difficult to apply.

So, when you find someone with a positive attitude, hold onto them. They might just be one of your high-performers, even if they aren’t the most technically competent.

3. A positive attitude makes change easier

You’ve heard it all before. Bloomberg says the world is changing, fast. The only constant is change.

Blah blah blah.

Unfortunately, it seems to be true.

Change is hard, and many people are naturally resistant to change. A positive attitude is important because change can be overwhelming and disruptive.

When your team members embrace change and maintain a positive outlook, you’re far more likely to experience success. Or at least you won’t all burn yourselves out in the process.

4. Negativity is so easy. You need something to counteract it

It is so easy to be negative. Workplaces are complex and communication issues cause a lot of “he said, she said” finger pointing situations.

It’s easy to feel down when around you, everyone seems to be saying negative things. You find yourself in an echo-chamber of negativity. Where people are bouncing negative thoughts off each other and hearing them reflected straight back.

The end result? You feel like everything sucks.

You need positive forces to help you through and disrupt the negativity. That’s why a positive attitude matters.

When I’m becoming overly negative about how things are going at work, after venting our frustration, one of my colleagues says to me “So what are we going to do that will make this better?”

This is valuable. So don’t underestimate it.

When have you seen a positive attitude make a big difference? Or do you think a positive attitude is overrated? Let me know in the comments below!

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