Monday Mornings with Madison


In the past, employers who were hiring looked for candidates with specific skills. From factory floor to executive suite, new employees were expected to have mastered certain essential tasks. Today, the preference is to “hire for attitude and train for skill.” Smart employers know that with certain exceptions — say, neurosurgery — people can learn almost any skill they need on the job. But you can’t teach a person attitude. Today, it’s often more important to have the right attitude than it is to have any specific skill.

This is important to keep in mind when faced with a situation that requires you to be persuasive, whether you’re applying for a job or approaching a potential client. Since a great attitude goes a long way to smoothing over any rough spots, let’s look at a few techniques for attitude adjustment.

Keep stress in check  A certain amount of anxiety is probably unavoidable today, but keep in mind that appropriate stress doesn’t paralyze you — it only primes you to take action. Human beings come with a “panic button” that is meant to save us from disaster. Historically, people with a strong stress response were quick to fight or flee, and thus they survived. Today we only need to be primed for tough questions, rather than lurking tigers. Use your anxiety to get mobilized: there’s nothing wrong with being over-prepared. But monitor your stress level to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Keep the news in perspective  It is virtually impossible to keep a positive attitude if you flood yourself with the stories that pass for current events on most commercial radio and television stations. “If it bleeds, it leads” is the guiding principle on most news shows, with the collapse of Western civilization now coming in as a close second. Meanwhile on cable TV and talk radio, reason and respect are dismissed in favor of ideological rants. Listen to them for too long and you’ll become convinced that your worst fears don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the world’s troubles. Yes, the economy is in poor shape, and bad things can happen anywhere. But most people lead unremarkably happy, successful lives. Turn off the babble and turn instead to books that enlighten and
inspire you.

Keep positively connected  Surround yourself with hopeful, active people who believe that you can live up to your potential. Look for those who focus on opportunities rather than on obstacles and those who would rather encourage you than complain about petty grievances. You cannot adjust anyone else’s attitude, so it is best to avoid negative people entirely.

Live in the moment  While it’s certainly important to focus on the future by setting goals and having aspirations, life is lived in the present. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery — now is what you have. And if you don’t pay attention to this moment, you’ll end up wasting your life getting ready to live. So please, take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and open your eyes to all that you have right now.

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”  William James

© 2008 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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