Your Attitude Determines Career Altitude Did you know that today there are more incredible career opportunities than there are people seeking them. I submit that skill level or a good resume isn’t always your biggest challenge, but what is the impediment is attitude, first impression and confidence. Ever hear the saying, “It is your attitude, not your aptitude that will determine your altitude in life”. When a person walks into a room, before they even open their mouth, you notice their attitude and formulate an opinion. In fact studies show that the majority of our communication is non-verbal and only a small percentage of our communication is through the spoken word. Research tells us that 55% is communicated visually, 38% vocally (tone, pitch, volume) and only 7% verbally. Interviewers will form an opinion of you before you even say hello! People (and interviewers) will always see you before they hear you. To illustrate the importance of attitude and impression, the very first thing I do when I conduct one of my career seminars is to illustrate the importance of attitude and non verbal communication. I typically select the most bored, inattentive member of the audience and ask them to join me in front of the room as a volunteer. I ask them to imagine a person they have met who was bored, depressed, angry, possibly out of work and lacking purpose and passion. I then request that they walk the length of the room with the body language and posture that this person exhibited. In essence, imitate the behavior of a person who was unhappy. They tend to be overly dramatic with slow pace, slouched shoulders, frown, head down, etc. I then ask the audience to describe their observations which always conform that this behavior signified a person who was down on their luck; a poor attitude. After itemizing all the non-verbal attributes of an unfulfilled person, I then ask the same volunteer to suddenly change their demeanor and act and walk like a person who is enjoying a passionate career, a person who has attained some financial independence and is experiencing success. Suddenly, my volunteer transforms from a shrinking violet to a bold, confident individual who strolls across the room in a faster pace, head high and with a confident wave to his fellow audience members! The crowd is hysterical and hoots and hollers at this newfound transformation. Keep in mind that not a single word had been spoken; perceptions were formed strictly on nonverbal behavior. The exercise serves to help participants understand the importance on how you conduct yourself and what your body language communicates to the world. The bored, tired, disinterested audience is now at rapt attention, anxious to see what is next! The lesson here is that when you meet a person for the first time, whether it is a new customer, potential new business partner or an interviewer, people formulate a powerful first impression of you within the first 12-30 seconds. This is typically before you have even spoken your first word! We judge people on their physical posture; appearance and general demeanor right from the get go! You can tell a great deal about attitude (especially professional interviewers who literally interact with hundreds of candidates) from a first impression. And attitude ultimately determines success. Attitude is often synonymous with self esteem. If you have high self esteem it will show in the way you carry yourself and conversely, low self esteem can easily be detected by your body language. Your thoughts and feelings can shape your attitude. Your attitude determines your actions. Your actions result in what you actually achieve. It’s all a big chain reaction. We often hear of someone having a “good” attitude or a “bad” attitude, and as you would expect, “good” or “bad” things usually (though not always) are the result. Just as harmful is a neutral attitude. Someone with a neutral attitude goes with the flow, is not particularly motivated or extremely happy with his/her life, but is not miserable either. What is wrong with that? Let’s take a closer look at what happens to those workers with neutral attitudes. Answer: Not much of anything! • They tend to stay in the same job, even if it makes them unhappy or no longer meets their needs • They have difficulty making new friends or starting new relationships. • They don’t learn and grow and become stagnant • They don’t grab opportunities and run with them Is that how you want to describe your career or life? To assist you, let me ask you a few questions…Who are you really and how much do you like yourself? Were you aware that how much you respect and like yourself defines your self-esteem? In fact, your exterior world is a mirror of your interior thoughts, emotions and beliefs. I call this your “mental fitness” and like physical fitness, it requires consistent training to improve. You must learn to nourish your spirit and feed your mind with optimism, much like you nourish the body with healthy foods and vitamins. If you eat healthy and exercise, you become vibrant, energetic and alive! When you focus on goals, outcomes, solutions and formulate a visualize picture of your optimal self, it is as if you injected happiness serum into your veins! If you eat junk food, you might eventually develop high blood pressure, clog your arteries, experience low stamina, have increased body fat and generally feel lousy. If you dwell on problems, debt, marital issues, world tension, you will soon become an unhappy person and push people away. Next time you are in a crowded place, do some people watching and observe which individuals are passionate and happy and which are moping from task to task…Which person are you? Is there bounce in your step or does your body language suggest apathy or boredom? You can improve your body language and overall demeanor simply by training your mind to focus on the positive aspects of your life. Walk with good posture and your head high! Discipline yourself to focus on the outcomes you seek and the positive steps required to achieve each new success. Make a commitment to reject negative thoughts, eliminate make excuses or assigning blame to anyone but yourself. Be accountable! Replace fear, worry, procrastination and doubt with optimism, upbeat, happy thoughts and emotions and like the impact of eliminating fat, sugar and salt from your physical diet, you will observe a change. This powerful combination of taking personal responsibility for your performance coupled with a clear vision and purpose provides a solid foundation to achieve excellence and balance. Attitude counts! The Attitude Test What to Do… Answer the following questions by circling Yes or No to the right. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Do I try to get other people to do things for me rather than do them myself? Do I care about being on time? Do I try to get by with as little work as possible? Do I think good manners are for other people? Am I an 8-hour worker who resents being asked to stay even for an extra few minutes? Do I leave my personal belongings on the floor and expect someone else to pick them up? Do I care only about “me” and forget about everyone else? Do I always make excuses for things I haven’t done? Do I litter when no one is looking? Do I gossip about others, telling things I shouldn’t? Do I care only about the “glory” jobs and let everyone else do the “dirty jobs”? Does it seem that people are always criticizing me for something? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No 13. 14. 15. Do I dislike my family because they tell me what to do, how I should act, etc.? I, at times, tease and bully people just for the fun of it or to get them angry? Do I blame fate, or “the system,” or anyone else for my current position in life? Yes Yes Yes No No No What do your answers say about your overall attitude? Do you think you have a good or bad attitude? How can you change the way you see things and the way you react to different situations to become a more positive person? Remember, your attitude will determine your career success! Christopher Kuselias is a nationally recognized career expert whose latest book, “Thank God It’s Monday! - A Guide to Finding Your Career Calling”, will hit bookstores this fall. Chris can be reached at email@example.com or through his Public Relations Manager Joy Berg at 203-407-8800.