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Loving Monday: Attitude Rehearsals

loving_mondayYou want the week to begin well. You get up and prepare with good intentions. “I choose a positive, constructive attitude as I launch this fresh, new Monday morning.”

But reality is not kind this week. Joe called in “sick”… again. Sarah won’t help a co-worker meet an important deadline. An important client wants to renegotiate your fee. Management unexpectedly slashed your budget mid-year.

And what began as a positive, constructive approach to the week is rapidly devolving into an dark and ugly—however understandable—reaction to the disheartening choices of others.

Here’s the deal, though. Attitude is not the same as emotions. We may feel discouraged, frustrated, or angry. Understandable and appropriate in the given examples.

Attitude, though, is a choice. Attitude is a stance. Attitude is the stance I choose to take regardless of what I am feeling.

Like any difficult choice, we need to practice and practice and practice embodying the attitude we choose.

We don’t merely flip a switch in the midst of experiencing a serious setback and choose to brush off the frustration and keep pressing forward. That’s how robots function, not human beings.

People need to learn new skills. People learn new skills over time. Like learning to drive a car, initially all our attention is focused on mastering the mechanics of operating the vehicle. Once we are practiced in the mechanics we are able to pay more attention to what is happening around us. We can watch for pedestrians, hold a conversation, and change the radio station without compromising our ability to operate the car safely.

Once we are practiced in the mechanics of driving, we don’t have to think about it every time we turn the steering wheel. It is similar with any area of skill development, including attitude.

What does this mean for our well-meaning intention to face this week with a positive, constructive attitude?

It means we need to practice. We need to practice both being honest about the initial feeling of frustration and then making a choice to address the frustrating situation with a positive, constructive attitude.

Again and again. The more practice we can get in the ordinary course of work and life, the better equipped we will be when a bigger disappointment, failure, or crisis assaults us.

“Practice makes perfect,” the adage goes. And so along with your morning sit-ups and push-ups, we will practice choosing our attitude. As our abs don’t flatten right away, neither will our ability to maintain a positive, constructive attitude.

The practice is preparing us, teaching us, and training us with the skills to choose as we would like regardless of what is going on around us. Are you ready?

What do you do for attitude rehearsals?

On your side,

- Karl

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