A positive attitude--optimism, expectancy, and enthusiasm--makes everything in business easier. A positive attitude boosts you up when you're down and supercharges you when you're already "on a roll."

Here's how to cultivate a positive attitude, regardless of what's happening at work, based upon a conversation with Jeff Keller, author of the bestseller Attitude Is Everything:

1. Remember that YOU control your attitude.

Attitude does not emerge from what happens to you, but instead from how you decide to interpret what happens to you.

Take, for example, receiving the unexpected gift of an old automobile. One person might think: "It's a piece of junk!" a second might think: "It's cheap transportation," and a third might think: "It's a real classic!"

In each case, the person is deciding how to interpret the event and therefore controlling how he or she feels about it (i.e. attitude).

2. Adopt beliefs that frame events in a positive way.

Your beliefs and rules about life and work determine how you interpret events and therefore your attitude. Decide to adopt "strong" beliefs that create a good attitude rather than beliefs that create a bad attitude. To use sales as an example:

  • Situation: The first sales call of the day goes poorly.
  • Weak: A lousy first call means that I'm off my game and today will suck.
  • Strong: Every sales call is different, so the next will probably be better.
  • Situation: A customer reduces the amount of an order at the last minute!
  • Weak: Customers who change orders can't be trusted.
  • Strong: Customers who change orders are more likely to be satisfied!
  • Situation: A big sales win comes seemingly "out of nowhere."
  • Weak: Even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.
  • Strong: You never know when something wonderful will happen!

3. Create a "library" of positive thoughts.

Spend at least 15 minutes every morning to read, view, or listen to something inspirational or motivational. If you do this regularly, you'll have those thoughts and feelings ready at hand (or rather, ready to mind) when events don't go exactly the way you'd prefer.

4. Avoid angry or negative media.

Unfortunately, the media is full of hateful people who make money by goading listeners to be paranoid, unhappy, and frightened. The resulting flood of negativity doesn't just destroy your ability to maintain a positive attitude; it actively inserts you into a state of misery, pique, and umbrage. Rather than suck up the spew, limit your "informational" media consumption to business and industry news.

5. Ignore whiners and complainers.

Whiners and complainers see the world through crap-colored glasses. They'd rather talk about what's irreparably wrong, rather than make things better. More importantly, complainers can't bear to see somebody else happy and satisfied.

If you tell a complainer about a success that you've experienced, they'll congratulate them, but their words ring hollow. You can sense they'd just as soon you told them about what's making you miserable. What a drag (figuratively and literally)!

6. Use a more positive vocabulary.

I've written about this before, but the point is worth making again. The words that come out of your mouth aren't just a reflection of what's in your brain--they're programming your brain how to think. Therefore, if you want to have a positive attitude, your vocabulary must be consistently positive. Therefore:

  • Stop using negative phrases such as "I can't," "It's impossible," or "This won't work." These statements program you for negative results.
  • Whenever anyone asks "How are you?" rather than "Hangin' in there," or "Okay, I guess..." respond with "Terrific!" or "Never felt better!" And mean it.
  • When you're feeling angry or upset, substitute neutral words for emotionally loaded ones. Rather than saying "I'm enraged!" say "I'm a bit annoyed..."

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