By MG (Ret.) John Gronski
In the movie Remember the Titans there is a scene where a player is having a heated discussion with the team captain. At the culmination of the conversation, the captain of the team accused the player of having a poor attitude. The player’s response was, “Attitude reflects leadership, captain”.
Yes, I guess that is true. However, it is also true that we do not have to allow others to control our attitude. We are the ones who can have full control of our own attitude and the way we feel – if we choose to.
There are some folks who let other people and various situations dictate the way they feel. With this approach, they are at the mercy of whatever life throws at them. A better alternative is to take control of our own emotions. Other people can make us feel one way or the other only if we let them.
Forming Positive Habits
If you are not used to taking control of your attitude it may be difficult at first. It is like any other habit you want to develop. You must work at it. The best way to develop good habits is to start small. Do your best not to let the little bumps in the road that come our way make you angry or get you down.
One way to do this is to think, “attitude check”. When you feel your emotions or your motivation getting away from you, pause, take a breath, and realize you are in control of the way you feel and not some other person or circumstance.
Another way to develop the habit of maintaining a positive attitude is to start the day by writing down three things you are grateful for. Gratitude is a powerful elixir. You can write down the three things you are thankful for on a three-by-five card or in your journal. When you focus on the good things you have in life it makes for a more positive mindset and a healthier attitude.
There are many other things you can do to take charge of the way you feel. Some basic lifestyle behaviors are tried and true such as staying hydrated, getting outside to enjoy nature, meditating, praying, reading scripture and other positive material, and engaging in physical exercise.
Find ways to work on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness. You cannot work on one and forget the others because they are all integrated like the nervous system within our bodies.
It’s About Emotional Intelligence
Taking charge of your attitude and maintaining self-control is a key element of emotional intelligence. But it all begins with self-awareness which is understanding how we are feeling. Once we gain this understanding, the next step is to control our emotions. The third element is self-motivation which is moving our emotions (or our attitude) from a bad place to a good place. This is where we now take control of our emotions and our attitude.
If you can master these three internal elements of emotional intelligence, you can then go on to master the trait of empathy or understanding how others feel. This is an important trait for leaders to have. Empathy does not mean feeling the same way another feels but it means understanding how another person is feeling without taking on that same emotion.
The fifth element of emotional intelligence is relationship management. This is the art of dealing with others and developing productive relationships with others.
The Other Side of Controlling Attitude
There is another side to controlling attitudes. We must understand that just as we can take control and not allow someone else to be in charge of the way we feel, we cannot be in charge of the way someone else feels. Once we realize this, especially when it comes to our family members, we can learn to live a happier life.
Beware of Hijackers
There are many people and situations out there that attempt to hijack our attitude. Be on guard. We cannot allow other people to bring us down. We must take control of how we feel and our attitude. We are the ones who choose to be happy or sad, excited or unmotivated, pleasant or angry, gracious or sarcastic. Be a person who brightens a room when you enter it, not when you leave it.
Your Most Important Asset
Remember, you can take control of one of your most important assets – your attitude. This will lead to a more successful and happier life.
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Major General John L. Gronski (U.S. Army Retired) is the founder and CEO of Leader Grove LLC, a leadership consulting firm. John is the author of two books, Iron-Sharpened Leadership and The Ride of Our Lives and he is an international and Fortune 500 speaker.
A decorated combat Veteran, infantryman, and Ranger School graduate, John is a transformational leader and also has significant experience in business as a management consultant, where he led teams implementing large, complex projects. He now serves as an executive coach, leadership consultant, and trainer.
Learn more about John Gronski at https://johngronski.com/