I am sitting in Starbucks typing away, when I see two people walk in. The first is an attractive older lady, a little on the heavier side, but striking. Behind her walks in a younger lady in her early to mid-twenties that seems to resemble the older lady. Conventional standards would hand the younger lady a modeling contract, but I am surprisingly unimpressed. The contrast between the two is unclear, but the older lady knows her surroundings, looks up and out, and smiles at the patrons; while the younger lady, face down in her virtual #wonderlife, seems uninterested in her surroundings. It seems as if their body language conveys this hidden contrast. I begin to ponder…

What sets people apart?

What is it that makes certain people just…stand out?! What is the differentiator that hiring managers intuitively qualify when choosing between two equally capable applicants? As I pondered, I realized the body language of these two ladies was motivated by the answer—attitude.

There is little difference in people. But the little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative. –W. Clements Stone

Attitude conveys a powerful message

In fact, one might argue that attitude is the most compelling indicator of our character. Our attitude determines the nature of our mindset. Mindset determines our degree of success. Therefore, if red flags are visible before proficiency is even assessed, hiring managers need not look any further than attitude.

Change your attitude. Change your outcome. –Dave Anderson

Bad News: Attitude is no substitute for competence

A good attitude is a coveted attribute to find in an employee, a co-worker, and especially a manager. However, people occasionally mistaken confidence with competence. Confidence is a function of attitude, whereas competence is a function of ability. It has been said, “You can’t get out what God didn’t put in.”

A good attitude, although capable of setting one apart from the crowd, does not enable performance; it only enhances it.

In other words, if you are tone deaf, do not try out for The Voice. If you do, being positive will only make you a good loser. There is a ceiling for innate development, and the most positive person in the world will not change that. But, that’s OK! We all have different talents.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain. –Mia Angelou

 Good News: Attitude is a strong performance enhancer

John Maxwell, in his New York Times Bestseller The Difference Maker, also suggests that a person’s attitude has a profound influence on their success in life. He challenges the skeptic to ask the surgeon who is attempting to save her patient’s life in the emergency room, whether the patient’s attitude, on the outcome, matters. What about the coach trying to hype his team up before a game? Surely, he knows a competitive attitude will enhance his team’s performance! In fact, attitude is, above all, the characteristic that sets people apart.

Do you want an edge on success?

I do! Why wouldn’t we? So, next time you walk into Starbucks, pick your head up, observe your surroundings, and smile. Better yet, avoid Starbucks altogether. Their coffee is flash-roasted, and you are paying a premium for an overpriced cup of “joe.” Agh! There goes my attitude…

Hey, I never said I mastered it!


Today, we discussed the power of attitude. Can we influence our attitude? Well, not directly, but we can influence the  component parts that shape an attitude. Stay tuned! We’ll address these component parts in the next blog.


If this is relevant in your life, it will probably be relevant in someone else’s life. Please share it with your co-workers, family, and friends. Post it on your Facebook or LinkedIn. Help someone, today!

Leave a Reply