My friend Pat Williams, senior executive vice president of the NBA's Orlando Magic and author of several books including "Go for the Magic," has a great analogy when it comes to attitude.
He uses this comparison: On the instrument panel of every airplane is a device called the attitude indicator. This instrument shows the pilot the airplane's true orientation relative to the horizon.
Even if the ground is invisible to the pilot, he or she can know with certainty whether the plane is level or banking and if the nose of the plane is pitched upward or downward — thanks to the attitude indicator.
If the nose is pitched upward while power is applied, the plane will climb; if downward, the plane descends. The plane's attitude is a key factor in determining whether an airplane goes up or down — and the same is true of you and me.
We can go as high as our attitude will take us. Our attitude determines our altitude.
As a frequent flier who has logged millions of miles in the air, I know a thing or two about altitude. Once the plane leaves the ground, "wheels up" as they say, altitude is a good thing. A very good thing.
As a business owner and author, I also know a thing or two about attitude. If an employee is enthusiastic about the job, the results show it. If an organization has a collective positive attitude, the chances for success increase exponentially.
A positive business atmosphere is necessarily guided by its leadership. A good leader needs an "instrument panel" that shows the organization's true orientation relative to its goals. It involves leading by example, clear and specific training and direction, and listening to and responding to concerns.
If you want to remain or become a positive force in the workplace, you need a strategy. Wolf J. Rinke, author of "The 6 Success Strategies for Winning at Life, Love & Business," offers these suggestions:
• Ask people you consider positive forces how they maintain their attitudes.
• Survey your use of language, and change it when necessary. This includes inner talk and outer talk. Change your negative words and thoughts into positive ones.
• Appreciate yourself. Accept yourself for who you are, not who you ought to be.
• Don't worry about something that has already happened. If there is a lesson to be learned, learn it and move on. Accept that you are going to make mistakes.
• For one entire day, commit yourself to using all of your energy to be positive.
• Realize that how you feel about something is your choice.
Changing your attitude takes practice. But finding the positives in situations is worth the effort. Would you rather spend time working next to a pessimist or an optimist? Would your co-workers prefer to have you complain or tackle challenges with enthusiasm?
It might not be easy, but it is simple. You, and you alone, have control over your attitude.
I'd like to leave you with part of a poem I often recite when I'm speaking to corporate audiences. It's from "Attitude," by Charles Swindoll.
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.
We can rely on the one thing we have — Our Attitude.
I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me
And 90 percent how I react to it.
And so it is with you … We are in charge of our Attitudes.
Mackay's Moral: When your attitude is flying high, there's no stopping you.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.