I Can’t Teach Attitude…

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Eeshita Grover, Cisco

Winston Churchill said, ”Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

In the past two decades, I have been through my fair share of hiring and onboarding of content professionals. I have seen success and failure. Sometimes interviewers run into a string of failed interviews even though the candidates meet all the requirements, on paper, of the open position. And there are other times where the candidates meet the requirements partially but they turn out to be huge successes on the job.

The confusing chain of events has had me thinking—what is it that sets apart a successful professional? The answer is attitude.

On-the-job skills, processes, subject knowledge, and so on can be taught and can be learned. But you cannot teach or learn attitude. It is innate. Attitude, that little thing according to Churchill, leads to a multi-dimensional impact on your environment. Starting from your interview to the colleagues who will give you a standing ovation on your last day, everyone is impacted by your attitude.

  • When interviewing—Attitude is infectious, it has an impact. Even before you know it, your mind has made observations about your interviewer and vice versa. Of course, you have to know your skill, have the talent, and want the job. But that’s not everything.

Your attitude will pull or push people to or away from you. A positive attitude translates into capacity to learn, promise, and commitment.

  • On the job—Attitude fuels aptitude. I have encountered situations when, because a task cannot be accomplished due to inexperience or knowledge, it affects attitude. But that little thing—the right, positive attitude will fuel aptitude which in turn propels us to put forth our best effort and hence achieve greatness.

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

Attitude enables collaboration, quality of work, and leads to a positive overall impact of your work and your work ethic.

  • When you leave—Little do we realize that how we execute and what we demonstrate to others has an impact. On your last day at work, you’ve paid attention to tying all loose ends, closing the loop on open action items, and your respectfulness towards your team members. This shows true professionalism and, of course, a very positive attitude.

In my experience, there are a few things that contribute to disciplining a positive attitude. Curiosity, desire to learn, focus on a goal (no matter how small or lofty), and the wish to achieve are attributes of a positive, healthy attitude.

On the flip side, walking in to work half-hearted, putting in ‘just enough’ to get by, and letting negativity about your employer or your work hurt your environment make it toxic and demonstrate negativity.

Not every day will be butterflies and lilies. And neither will every day be dark. The question is, in which direction will you pull yourself? That is what will define your attitude, it will define you.

No, I cannot teach attitude, no one can. But you can teach yourself and nurture a positive attitude.

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