Smile on the Job
Smile on the Job
The importance of a positive attitude on the job is something that we hear so often that it has become a platitude. This is unfortunate because a positive attitude is the energy that drives the other components of success – competence, expertise, and a strong work ethic.

There is a good deal of academic and scientific interest in the influence of attitude on the human condition and how we conduct business. The largest psychology class in the history of Harvard University (according to the Feb. 15, 2006, issue of the Harvard Crimson) was Psychology 1504, Positive Psychology. The course was described as the study of “happiness, self-esteem, empathy, friendship, goal-setting, love, achievement, creativity, mindfulness, spirituality, and humor.”

Taking seriously the importance of a positive attitude has yielded some scientific results. Something as simple as a smile, for example, has been shown in brain imaging studies to “light-up” areas that register happiness and affect attitude. Not only that, the scientists studying this phenomenon discovered that even a fake smile could light up the happiness parts of the brain.

At about the same time that the smile research was going in the 1970s, the Andrew Carnegie Foundation sponsored a survey of more than 300,000 professionals to try to determine what made people successful. This study, cited in an online newsletter by business coach and speaker, Scott Hunter, found that only seven percent of success was determined by an individual’s knowledge, 12 percent was determined by skill, and a whopping 81 percent of success was determined by attitude.

Hunter also asserts that half of all employees hate their jobs, and this negative attitude not only impedes personal career success, but it is also costing business dearly. He goes on to say that emotions such as fear, anxiety, despair, rage, and hatred tend to attract negative consequences to the very people who have those negative attitudes. This is most certainly not a formula for success.

On the other hand, he says, a positive attitude based on gratitude, joy, excitement, and passion tends to attracted positive consequences. And, as the Harvard psychology course description and the studies on smiling suggest, we can literally “put on” a good attitude with positive self talk and a smile.

Of course there are external events that may trigger positive or negative emotions, but our attitude is ultimately a choice that we make internally. Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” a smile is a good way to “re-boot” your positive attitude if you find it crashing.

When my computer is acting sluggish, I know that re-booting will improve its performance. I challenge each of you to find a way to re-boot your attitudes when you find yourself going down a path of negativity. Surround yourself with positive people and smile. I guarantee it will make your workday better.

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