The Importance of Attitude

We are bombarded today by negatives in terms of what we are hearing and seeing. We need to build people up—not tear them down.

William James, often called the father of American psychology, said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

But what kinds of attitudes do we have? Are they positive or negative?

Negatives can disguise themselves as positives. For example, doubt, which is negative, disguises itself as caution—which can be positive. Fear disguises itself as realism. And criticism disguises itself as evaluation. Let’s dig a little deeper.


“It’s not that I have any doubts about this project, but I believe we should move cautiously. I move that we appoint a committee to gather facts, evaluate data, oscillate, vacillate, and procrastinate. If we take long enough, we may not have to make a decision. If we do make a decision and we’re wrong, we can spread the blame around. If we’re right, we can grab the credit.”

So doubt, which is negative, disguises itself as caution—which is positive.


Fear often disguises itself as realism. I see this a lot at sales meetings. People go around the room sharing their sales goals until we get to one person who says, “All of these goals sound fine, but I’m going to be realistic.”

What they are saying is, “I’m going to set a goal so low that if I do nothing, I’ll still hit it.”

Who gets excited watching someone jump three feet high? Most of us can fall more than three feet. The fear of failure disguises itself as being realistic.


Criticism frequently disguises itself as evaluation. “Now, Bob, I don’t want you to think I’m criticizing you, but I would like to evaluate your rotten performance.”

We are bombarded today by negatives. We need to think about what we are hearing and seeing. Is it designed to build us up—or tear us down? I, for one, want to build people up. What about you?

Until next time—add value and make a difference!

Bob Pike, CPLP, Fellow, CSP, CPAE
Bob Pike, CSP, CPLP FELLOW, CPAE-Speakers Hall of Fame, is known as the “trainer’s trainer.” He is the author of more than 30 books, including “Creative Training Techniques Handbook” and his newest book, “The Expert’s Guide to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to Training.” You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook using bobpikectt.