If there’s one thing we’ve all had more than enough of during the Covid-19 crisis, it’s time. Time to reflect, time to plan, time to re-evaluate everything in our lives and businesses. That thinking time could well be the key to coming out of the pandemic stronger and more resilient than ever.
What’s in an attitude?
The cliché that a glass is either half full or half empty, depending on how you view it, is true. One view imagines what can be done with all that stuff in the glass; the other view dreads the fact that it’s already half gone, and disappearing fast. The half-full attitude will be creatively looking for ways to maximize what is available. The half-empty attitude is already in survival mode, shutting down any ideas that would lead to there being even less in the glass than there already is. You can see how behaviour flows from attitude just in that simple example.
So, how do you view your business right now? How do you look at your plan for the next few years?
Sales tanked last March and I’ve been operating day-to-day to hold on …
Sales in dry cleaning dropped, but I have a lot of equipment here. What else can I clean, and how can I find those customers?
Which person do you think is miserable right now, and which is finding a second wind to go on? Which do you want to be?
It’s not set in stone
We are all born with a curiosity and spark for exploration that gets us in trouble as toddlers, opens doors to learning in grade school, and eventually determines a life path. It’s a positive attitude. But life experiences can erode that positivity and turn it into survival mode over time.
You’re not stuck with whatever attitude you have today, however. Whatever changed over time from your childhood can change over time to something better, especially if you put some effort into it and have a goal in mind. Attitude is a habit. Habits are hard to break – but they can be broken, and new ones take their place.
Do you even know what your overall attitude is? How can you determine it?
Think through yesterday and its activities. Remember each thing, person or situation you encountered. Really look at how you first reacted to each one. Was it upbeat and eager, or envisioning all the things that could come out of it that would make your day harder?
Ask someone you know and trust, “What do you see as my overall attitude in life?” Then let them talk, and don’t get defensive. It’s possible the answer will surprise and dismay you. But you need to hear it. Make notes of what you discover from your friend or in your own self-reflection time. Is the attitude you see on the page the one you want to project? If not, make a list of what you wish it would be.
Make a plan
Yes, you can plan to be more positive and open to the possibilities around you. Changing your attitude isn’t something that just happens by itself. You need to drive that change yourself.
Make attitude awareness top of mind for the next few days. Notice how you react, what thought processes kick in during different situations, and how your attitude seems to affect others.
2. Slow down. After you’ve done your evaluation, begin teaching yourself to slow down your reactions. Or, at least, delay how you express them.
3. Begin to force change into your attitude. For instance, when you see someone who really irritates you headed your way, note your reaction – but suppress the frown and sigh. Give yourself time to think about how you’d like to impact that person, or how you’d like to be received in a similar situation. Then put that attitude forward in word and deed.
4. Try the pennies trick. Put 10 pennies in one pocket, and set a goal of being positive 10 times that day. Each time you lift someone up with your encouraging words, or choose potential over gloom and doom, move a penny from one pocket to the other. How many made it by the end of the day? 10? Great! 3? There’s always tomorrow, and plenty of pennies to work with.
5. Work on these steps for a solid week and then repeat the first step. Have you made any progress? If so, congratulate yourself. If not, go through the steps again. And don’t be discouraged. The very fact that you’re working on your attitude will bring change over time.
Watch your vocabulary
Now that you’ve begun to practise changing your attitude in mid-stream, turn that focus on your business. Move from the negative attitude to a positive one, and look for concrete ways to put them to work.
— Rather than say CAN’T, think about how you CAN.
— Rather than say EVENTUALLY, make a solid plan and start it NOW.
— Rather than say WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THIS WAY, look for what WORKS BEST.
— Rather than DREAD certain people or situations, ANTICIPATE and REHEARSE them so you’re ready. A big part of the dread is the uncertainty of how to respond.
The popular buzz-phrase is ‘be intentional’. Don’t let life bulldoze you, not even a pandemic. Yes, it’s been a struggle. Yes, we don’t know when it will be over (or if this is the new normal). Accept it as it is today and make the most of every opportunity you have to succeed. Don’t just think outside the box, get out a box cutter, slice that thing up and put it in the recycle bin. Let your new attitude carry you through all that life sends your way.
Becca Anderson spent 17 years in public relations, advertising and corporate PR before joining Fabricare Canada in 2000. She was named editor in 2013, and welcomes feedback about the magazine via the contact form on this site.