What are the immeasurable things that make a measurable difference? The title for this blog came out of a cup of coffee with two good friends where we were discussing trends we saw in the world of business and leadership. We were wondering why some organizations seem to thrive while others struggle.
In the course of this conversation, we talked about traits like, Attitude, Honesty, Environment, Trust, Generosity, A Smile and so on. It struck me how do you measure any of these traits? Yet, we all notice the difference each of them makes in our daily encounters. These immeasurable things can make a measurable difference in our lives, our careers and our communities.
For example, I think we can all recognize the difference a positive attitude makes in our lives.
Attitude, is defined by Dictionary.com as
1. manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind: a negative attitude; group attitudes.
2. position or posture of the body appropriate to or expressive of an action, emotion, etc.: a threatening attitude; a relaxed attitude.
Yet how do we measure attitude? I used to work for Mike. The burning rafters could be falling around us in a situation and Mike could keep the team focused on our goals while encouraging a smile. I am in awe of that ability and it is a result of his attitude. The way he sees life.
Many of you may be familiar with the story of Jerry. I first encountered in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
Jerry is a manager in a restaurant. He has always had a positive attitude towards life. Always when somebody asks him: “How is it going?” he replies: “It can’t be better”.
Many of the employees left when he left the restaurant because he was able to motivate people. Always when any of his colleagues had a bad day, Jerry was next to him trying to find out the positive side of the situation.
I noticed this and became curious. I went to him and asked him: “Hi Jerry, how do you succeed to always have your positive attitude? Nobody can stand being positive all the day!!!”
Jerry just smiled and told me: “Every morning I wake up and say to myself – hi man, today you have two choices: negative or positive attitude. I always pick up the positive option.
Every time someone comes to me and starts complaining, I have two choices – to just listen to the complaints or to try point out the positive side of the situation. I always choose the positive side.”
“But this is not so easy” – I replied
“Just the contrary! It is easy” said Jerry. “Everything in our lives is about making the right choice. You decide how you are going to react in a situation. You decide how and if the people around you will affect your mood. You decide to have negative or positive attitude. You decide how to live your life”.
Some years after I heard that Jerry had done something unacceptable in his work. He had left open the back door of the restaurant; several armed guys entered and robbed the restaurant. While trying to open the safe Jerry had his hands trembling and could not find the correct combination; one of the rubbers got panic and shot him.
I saw him six months after the story.
“How are you, Jerry” – I asked him.
“It can’t be better, man! Do you want to see the scars?”
I declined but asked him about his thoughts during the robbery.
“First thing I had in my head was that I had had to lock the back door. After I got shot I thought that I have two choices – to live or to die. I picked the “to live” option”
“Weren’t you scared” – I asked him.
“The doctors were fantastic. They kept repeating that everything will be OK. But when they took me into the ambulance and when I saw their faces I got scared. I read in their eyes: “He is a dead man”. There was a nurse who was constantly speaking to me to keep me conscious. She asked me if I had any allergies. I replied: “Yes against bullets”. Everybody laughed. Then I told them: “I choose to live. Please treat me as a living human – not as a dead man”.
So how do you measure the impact of an attitude? In Jerry’s case he measured it with his life.
– What attitude are you displaying today?
– How can you infect your team with the attitude of Service/Success/Winning?