Posted by: Christine Donovan | June 16, 2009

Living in Excellence: Attitude, continued

I mentioned yesterday that attitude is at the core of our success, our excellence, and so it’s worth the time to sit down and take a serious look at it.

How do I know if my attitude needs some work?

Well, I thought of myself as a “professional” critic for a long time.  I honestly felt that it was important for me to point out everything that was wrong in the world… and Lord knows, I found it.  It was a calling… I couldn’t resist the temptation to criticize people, systems, and organizations.  It was my job, and I did it so well.

Now of course, I didn’t realize how much I “critiqued,” and it never occurred to me that the world didn’t actually need my input.  But in my mind, I truly believed that most people just didn’t see those things I was pointing out.  I was doing a service after all.

Now, I don’t mean that I critiqued people directly.   I specialized in general comments… “I don’t know why they can’t move things through more quickly in Purchasing…”  “You know, if HR knew what they were doing, they would have sent me more eligible candidates…”   “Don’t bother going to that restaurant: they’re slow, the service is lousy and the food is mediocre.” 

 I don’t know who I thought I was, but I had an opinion about everything.  And I didn’t realize how much it was hurting my growth and effectiveness as a person until one day I actually listened to the words that were coming out of my mouth.

Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann

Now, I will say that my superior tone reflected most of the world around me.  From the news to the late night talk show hosts, that attitude of criticism was/is pervasive. 

If you’ve ever heard MSNBC commentator, Keith Olbermann… well, I rest my case.  And then there is David Letterman, the king of the snide, snarky remark… focused on disparaging everything and everyone in the name of humor.  Of course, his audience just loves it; they clap and hoot and laugh, because vicariously they have become the critic too.  It’s great sport to run down the lives of the famous and un-famous.

When you think of it, most comics make their living by endlessly criticizing politicians, celebrities and even common folks who have managed to make the news (i.e. Joe the plumber).  So I suppose it should be expected that many of us get on that same band wagon… until we see the negativity and damage we are bringing to ourselves and those around us.

 Negativity is pervasive and dangerous.  It creeps up like a cancer, and quickly metastasizes our world.

The problem is that the seed of negativity seems to be buried in each of us.  It is human nature to be negative, critical, superior. 

I put negativity on the same list of other addictions – it’s right up there with smoking,  overeating, even cocaine.  It can overtake our lives, and yet we just don’t see that it exists.

I ask you today to listen to yourself at work, with your friends, with your family.  If you hear a lot of criticism and/or complaining coming out of your mouth then it’s time to take stock and ask yourself why you have such a need to do this.  Consider how your life might be very different without negativity.

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