A for Attitude

By Pat Brans Oct 4, 2010
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Time is the ultimate equalizer. Everyone gets the same number of hours per week to accomplish their goals—168, minus seven to nine hours of recommended sleep each night. Yet some people seem to achieve more than others. Much of the difference comes down to how well you manage your attitude.

Think of underachievers you know. Are they afraid to work toward their dreams because they may risk revealing that they don’t have as much talent as they—or others—thought?

Yes, says Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, who has studied the role that attitude plays in goal achievement. Dweck refers to two distinct attitudes toward goals: “Performance-oriented” people view positive outcomes as demonstrations of competence; “learning-oriented” people see an outcome as requiring competence but know competence can be acquired. Studies have shown that the latter mind-set will get you much further in life.

Upon hearing this revelation, some people argue that a person’s attitude is set and there’s nothing he or she can do about it. My research on top performers, however, reveals that overachievers consistently change and manage their attitudes by:

  • Challenging assumptions. For example, do you assume a stay-at-home mom with no business experience can’t run a company? What assumptions are holding you back?
  • Rethinking perspectives. Do you view your work toward a given goal through the eyes of those around you? Does the goal need to demonstrate to other people that you possess certain skills? Or can you check your ego at the door and learn what you need to accomplish your goals?
  • Changing focus. Are you going to spend precious time agonizing about goals you didn’t accomplish, or will you focus on those you did accomplish and will accomplish in the future?

Managing Your Attitude

Because attitude toward goal achievement is a major factor in determining how effectively you go after what you want, managing your attitude is a productive way to spend some of your 168 hours per week.

The more time you spend challenging assumptions, focusing on the learning aspect rather than the performance aspect of your goals and taking your ego out of the equation, the more goals you will achieve.

When you fail to reach a goal—and even when you do reach it—remember that ability has little to do with it. You won’t beat yourself up for your next failure, and you won’t be full of yourself after your next success.

The author, a corporate trainer, is based in Grenoble, France, and is founder of Master the Moment, an approach to time management and personal effectiveness. He can be reached at www.master-the-moment.com.

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