Think Tank Thursday: Choose Your 'Tude

Emmie Brown is a senior partner with Nashville-based Southwestern Consulting, a sales coaching, speaking and consulting firm that operates throughout the U.S. and Canada and in Eastern Europe. She also blogs for her company’s website.

“We’re lucky enough to live close to a park with a nice, family friendly bike path. The bike path ascends from Shelby Park up a hill almost to our backyard and it has provided us with so many teaching moments as parents.

The Challenge

The hill is tall. The hill is steep. It makes for a long and challenging bike path. The other day, my son and I had gone out on a bike ride. He’s 5-years-old now and doesn’t use training wheels anymore (a big parenting win!), so we’re taking the bikes out a lot more often. As we were beginning the ascent up the hill, Dawson lets out a wail. In hysterics, he exclaims, “I can’t do this. It’s too hard.” And he started his complaining. The rest of the ride home was incredibly painful for him ... and for me. He would stop and refuse to go on. I would coax him, encourage him, argue with him, try to motivate him, try to challenge him, force him ... threaten punishments. But after a long fight, we finally made it up the hill.

The Choice

That night Dawson and I had a good conversation about choosing your attitude. We talked about what it means to complain. We discussed how challenges are a normal part of life. All of us experience challenges on a day-to-day basis. We go through things that are difficult and tough. That’s just normal. It’s going to happen. We cannot choose what happens to us. We can only choose how we respond to it. We can choose a good attitude or we can choose a bad attitude.

And this message sounds so simple because we’ve all heard it before, but how often on a day-to-day basis do you choose a bad attitude?

I know for myself, even as a business coach, I can catch myself choosing a bad attitude pretty often. I catch myself complaining about things that aren’t in my control—the uncontrollable of life. Or I catch myself complaining about the weather, or the decisions of others, or the actions of others. I catch myself complaining about circumstances and results ... the list goes on.

But I’ve been working on catching myself when I choose a bad attitude and stop it in its tracks. Life is a lot harder and more difficult on us with a bad attitude.

Your Attitude

I explained to my son how everything becomes harder, everything becomes more painful, everything hurts a lot more when we complain. If we choose to have a good attitude, to say, “I think I can,” to say, “This is making me stronger,” to say, “Problems are a part of life and they’re helping me grow,” if we choose to look at the positive, life becomes a lot more fun and those problems become a lot more manageable.

The next day we went out on another bike ride, and, fortunately, he decided to choose a different attitude when we came to the hill again. He decided to say, “I think I can” as he peddled up the hill. And guess what? Not only did he get up the hill in a third of the time, but he made it up the hill feeling confident and proud—and with his mother a lot less stressed out.”

Emmie Brown is a senior partner of Southwestern Consulting, a sales coaching, speaking and consulting firm based in Nashville, Tennessee. You can find more of blog entries on neuro-associative programming by visiting the company’s website.