Attitude is nothing more and nothing less than a person’s outward expression of his internal views. It is where your perceptions become your realities. So to define your attitude, you need only answer three questions:
- How do you see yourself?
- How do you see the world?
- How do you see yourself in the world?
Conveniently, the answers to all three questions are totally within your control. You get to choose how you see yourself, how you see the world, and how you see yourself in the world — no matter how others see you, how the world sees you, or how others see you in the world.
You get to pick the glasses you’ll wear each day as you view yourself and the world around you. You get to decide whether you like the person you are, whether you like your surroundings, whether you like your parents, whether you like your kids, whether you like your boss, whether you like your employees, whether you like the weather . . . It’s all your choice, and it all reflects your attitude.
A positive attitude brings positive results
You no doubt know the importance a positive attitude plays in your ability to bring positive results (success) into your job, career, and life. And in spite of the negative attitudes you see every day, it’s not a concept that’s somehow been hidden from the emerging workforce.
1. Negative is hip
From where your young employees sit, it’s just not cool to be positive. Where you once had to go to the drive-in or wait for your favorite show to come on to see the popular bad boys and girls, today they’re hitting you from all sides. Hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of bad attitudes invade the consciousness of today’s youth, and the worst offenders usually get the most attention and the biggest contracts.
2. Work sucks
From the perspective of the young person, work is a bad thing. You’re supposed to hate work; everybody does.
Why should young people be happy at work when work is the very thing the authority figures around them (parents, teachers, bosses) constantly complain about? How many times can they hear things, like “I hate my job,” “Thank God it’s Friday!” “I’m calling in sick,” and “As soon as I can find something better, I’m outta here!” without it completely eroding their view of work?
Young people have been raised on the promise that they can have it all and that they don’t have to wait until they are old to get it. So if that’s true, they reason, why is someone asking them to do the same meaningless task today that they performed yesterday?
How can they expect to show up with a happy face when they’d much rather be in the garage jamming with their band or hanging out with friends at the mall? After all, work is a necessary evil, right? It’s not supposed to be fun. You hurry up and get it over with — you just want the coin for the pleasures you seek. So why be happy about work?
3. I was born too late
Members of the emerging workforce see a world that’s filled with the negative. They can’t escape the ranting political activists, the news of terrorism and natural disasters, the broken families all around them, and the corporate scandals that leave pension funds empty and executives with golden parachutes.
Today’s youth are much more aware of the world around them than any previous generation. The greatest challenge facing the youth of today, in fact, is that they’re aware of all the other challenges.
A couple of centuries ago, most people were only aware of their own misery, and that was plenty. It took weeks or months to learn about the miseries of people elsewhere around the country, and only the elite knew much about the world’s discomforts. Now it comes tweeted instantly with links to live video feeds and constant analysis from a dizzying array of pundits.
Consider all the negativity they are exposed to, and realize they compare it to the repetitive tales they’ve heard from adults about how great everything was “back in the day” when life was so much simpler, safer, and happier. Ever arrive to a terrific party just as it’s breaking up — people leaving, all the food and drinks gone?
Make no mistake: it’s hard to stay positive in a negative world.
4. This isn’t what I was promised
The biggest reason for the growing negativity among young employees, however, is the huge gap between their expectations (what they believe life, work, and school should be like for them) and their reality. They’ve been told from the time they were knee-high that they were special, gifted, talented, and one-of-a-kind, and their jobs are sold to them by the interviewer as “a fun place to work.”
Once they get past the training period, they discover that work is not always easy or glamorous, and seldom is it fun — at least in the way they’ve come to define the term. They feel jilted. If it’s not the job they feel they were promised or are entitled to, they think they must be in the wrong job or working for a boss who doesn’t appreciate them.
Anger, in most cases, results from unfulfilled expectations. The same goes for unfulfilled expectations at work, except that some workers channel their anger into more passive, disengaged behaviors.