Shift your attitude meter to greatness

On Friday September 14, I attended a pitching session held at PetroSA, called “Pitch and Perfect”. Twenty or so different entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to five judges.

Prior to this session, there was also an informative master class on pitching. One of the key points made by the facilitator is that investors and stakeholders “buy into you” before they buy your product or business.

The business ideas were diverse, but I took note of the value that having an engaging, confident attitude played in these pitches.

On Saturday September 15, I was also blown away by the performance of the Springboks against their old foe, the All Blacks.

Given the outstanding record of the All Blacks, the rather dismal away performance of the Boks in the two away games in the previous weeks and the fact that they had never won a test at the site in Wellington, few fans, commentators and sports bookmakers expected the Boks to win. Nic Mallet, a rugby commentator, had said on air that it would be honourable if the Boks could lose by less than 20 points.

What actually happened was heroic and inspiring. The headline in the Sunday newspaper echoed these thoughts with “Wow, Bokke, wow!”

So what caused the team to turn two defeats at the hands of lesser teams into a victory against the world’s best team?

Statistics will give many reasons why this shouldn’t have happened. Rugby commentators may talk about continuity and team selection.

I wonder if it doesn’t boil down to something shared at the pitching session on Friday, something that I believe is vital for aspiring entrepreneurs and engaged employees alike.

That something is attitude. The Boks appeared to play the full game with a “never say die” attitude. And that can make all the difference.

Consider these few words on attitude by author and speaker Charles Swindoll: “The longer I live, the more I realise the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than success, than what other people think or say or do.

“It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company a church a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.

What about attitude at work? How important is it to model a positive and engaging attitude?

How about this measure of why customers stop being your customer:

* 1% die

* 3% move away

* 5% other friendships

* 9% competitive reasons

* 14% product dissatisfaction

But68% quit because of an attitude of indifference toward them by some employee.

In other words, 68% quit because the workers did not have a customer mindset working for them.

Here are seven attitude axioms to chew on:

Our attitudes determine our approach to life.

Our attitudes determine our relationships with people.

Often our attitude is the only difference between success and failure.

Our attitude at the beginning of a task will affect its outcome more than anything else.

Our attitude can turn our problems into blessings.

Our attitude can give us an uncommonly positive perspective.

Our attitude is not automatically good just because we are aware of it.

So, here’s where the difference between extraordinary and ordinary comes in. I think we can shift the dial of our “attitude meter” through:

Showing up

The Springboks were not just present on that Saturday; they truly “showed up”.

They displayed an engaged and poised attitude that helped them to score the largest number of points against the All Blacks in New Zealand by any visiting team.

As an entrepreneur, you will have many opportunities to choose between being present, and being engaged. Fatigue, fear and constant challenge will “break against your shores”.

Here are two quotes that may help in forging your commitment to show up:

“Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it. No involvement, no commitment” – Stephen Covey.

“When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results” – Ken Blanchard.

Stepping up

One of the words synonymous with entrepreneurship is “hustling”. There is a negative connotation to hustling (fraud or swindling), which is not what I am referring to. Rather it is about obtaining by forceful action and persuasion.

The primary agent of this persuasion and action is you. After attending an event or reading an article, are you going to “hustle” and hold yourself accountable to action and persuade yourself to go the whole nine yards?

Magic happens when we learn the habit of healthy hustling.

The Boks achieved a seemingly impossible task because they were physical, present and determined.

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle” – Abraham Lincoln.

Thinking… up

I suspect one of the major barriers facing the SA rugby team prior to the game was the mental challenge of how they saw themselves performing against the number-one team, particularly after losing to weaker teams in the previous two weeks.

They had to undergo a massive thought shift in just one week. I believe this was one of the reasons theysucceeded.Theythought… up.

One of the quotes mentioned earlier says, “Our attitude at the beginning of a task will affect its outcome more than anything else.”

Let your attitude to the next challenge or project or opportunity be one marked by a new determination, optimism and resilience…and start well.