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Dollars & Sense

Does Your Attitude Help or Hurt Your Business?

By Jason McGlone
Posted Aug 3rd 2010 7:23AM

There are some folks who believe that attitude, and specifically a positive attitude, affects a person's business life.  To be sure, there are some who, well, don't.  You've probably met people on both sides of the fence.  Likewise, you probably have an opinion of them one way or another, as well.

The question remains: how much does attitude figure into business, and more specifically, how does it figure in?

Now, "Attitude" in and of itself is likely a fairly nebulous word when it comes to applying real-life situations and probably isn't particularly helpful to anyone in the way of trying to offer advice.  Lines like, "Improve Your Attitude" and terms of similar import, without any measure of context are reduced to not much more than mostly useless self-help mantras.

That said, it is important to improve your attitude.

For the purposes of this article, let's define "Attitude" as one's state of mind towards a particular thing.  This is a reasonably common definition for the word, and it seems to fit the context that we're talking about here.  So, back to the question, with this definition in mind: how does one's attitude figure into business?  How much?

The short answer is that it depends.

On one hand, a positive attitude alone achieves nothing at all.  There's a certain level of positivity that's centered around words alone; a good example of this would be just about every work-at-home business opportunity you'll see.  These types of companies make huge promises and use lots of "Positive Attitude" buzzwords, but there's rarely (if ever) any kind of substance behind the rhetoric.  Without a kind of real-world framework that you can apply a positive attitude to, you're essentially just being happy.  Being happy certainly serves its own purpose, but if we're talking about maintaining a positive attitude in a business setting, you're doing it to improve your business, right?

This isn't to say that positivity alone can't achieve things--it can.  But in the business arena, your best best is to mindfully apply your attitude to everything and actually direct it at the things you're trying to achieve.  In other words, positivity should also be wrapped up in creativity, organizational skills, goal-setting, and a drive to complete whatever tasks happen to be in front of you.

In other words, it's just as much about the approach and the execution as it is the attitude.  This is the thinking you'll tend to find in most self-help books; in fact, the whole genre has a fairly simple formula: to deconstruct and rebuild the elements of one's life based on the "system" that the particular author in question has developed.  Some systems "work" for some people, some don't.

One self-help tome that's stood the test of time was incidentally one of the genre's first.  Think and Grow Rich was first published in 1938, during a time when the United States was embroiled in the Great Depression and many were without jobs.  In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill, the book's author, spends time with numerous wealthy men and develops his formula according to what common threads he sees in each of their stories.

At the center of his 13 "Steps Towards Riches," as he refers to them, is a "secret."  I should note here a couple things.  First, revealing this secret to you in this article oversimplifies the contents of Hill's breakthrough book.  Second, it might give away the book a little.  Alas, it's about the journey and not the destination, right?  That's what I thought.

Hill's "secret," when revealed, seems to be not particularly dramatic: "You become what you think about most of the time."  Simple enough.  In a word, if your goal is to make more money, think more about how you're going to do that and apply those thoughts to your actions.  Overcome obstacles.  Fix or ignore the things that might keep you from your goals. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Platitudes?  Absolutely.  But if they don't motivate you in any way, you're either already rich or you're allowing your ambitions and opportunities to escape, only to be gobbled up by someone else out there--and they're probably not going to thank you for it.

In the end, keeping a positive mindset is deeply important to success, but, as I noted earlier, it's certainly not everything.  At best, it's a tool for achieving the goals you've set for yourself, be they financial, personal, artistic, et cetera.  If you can take that positivity and turn it into focused action towards getting what it is that you want (and yes, knowing exactly what you want is deeply important, as well), then your chances of success will be much greater than if you're sitting on the couch dreaming about the way you think things should be.

Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich is available in full here:


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