If you haven’t figured it out by now, we’ll let you in on a little secret: no one is going to force you to get more Work / Life Balance. No one is going to tell you to take more time off, to spend more quality time with your family, or to be less productive. No one is going to let up on their expectations for you, even when they see you being run ragged. Only you can make the shift. Don’t wait for a medical emergency! Adjust your attitude before it’s too late for life.
As we come to the end of our series on Work / Life Balance, let’s settle in for a bit of light-hearted fun. Over the last eleven weeks, our journey has been filled with images of hot air balloons to give us lift, fast cars for speed, autopilot features to automate our environments, and map making skills that show us the way. Our final traveling instrument is the rudder.
A boat without a rudder is lost at sea. It is aimless. Weather conditions and water currents will aim our boat any which way, with no guarantee it will be the way we want to go. To aim our way, we must set our rudder in the right direction.
So too when it comes to Work / Life Balance, where the rudder is a matter of attitude. We must aim our attitude in the right direction if we hope to get where we want to go. Like the attitude of an aircraft, our attitude will determine if we are going up, down, away from, or toward our destination. Set in the wrong direction we can easily find ourselves heading toward something worse.
Attitude is such an important and fundamental concept that we have even invented a term for aiming our attitude. We call it an “attitude adjustment.” This is not only something we do to correct our attitude; it is something we do to set our attitude before we take off. We first aim our attitude and then it aims us. Once we are moving, we continue to aim, or to adjust, our attitude forever.
Along the way, I have seen people make some pretty disastrous errors in judgement based on a poor attitude that was aiming them. They have done things like quit too early, quit too late, or decide to do things out of a bad attitude that ended up hurting their Work / Life Balance. The truth is that we all have experience of this both at work and at home. There is no such thing as a perfect attitude, only one that can be aimed to either help or hinder us.
Aiming our attitude begins with recognising the current attitude we are holding. One question will do it: “Is our current attitude adding to or taking from our passion, energy, and enjoyment?” Adjusting our attitude then becomes a matter of experimentation. Without sacrificing realism, we make minor adjustments to keep us on course and following our map. The key is in making minor adjustments, or small changes, and then watching the direction of our attitude change.
Some of the world’s greatest minds, living and dead, have written about the importance of the attitude we hold. They used attitude to achieve the greatness they became known for. Imagine if we could get them in the same room for an interview. Well, for a bit of light-hearted fun here’s a make-believe conversation between some of these people.
To create this conversation, I have culled through their writings and selected a few quotes on the subject of attitude. I felt like a movie editor, piecing together bits and splicing together scenes to create a new story even though the actors were never together and some of them not even alive at the same time. So let’s start with me throwing a question out to the group:
MIKE: Welcome everyone. I’d like to open the discussion on attitude by asking a general question: Does attitude really have a genuine impact on our Work and Life?
Colleen C. Barrett: “Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun.”
MIKE: So no matter •what’ we do, it’s •how’ we decide to be that can make it fun?
Abraham Lincoln: I believe that “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Herm Albright: Yeah, Abe “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”
MIKE: I like your take on that, Herm. But what if things are more dire than that?
Viktor E. Frankl: Maybe I can add something here. “We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of his freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Valerie Oberle (VP Disney University Guest Programs): “Heroic service does not come from policy manuals. It comes from people who care – and from a culture that encourages and models that attitude.”
MIKE: So we should encourage others to share in a culture of good attitudes?
Zig Ziglar: I agree, but “Life is too short to spend your precious time trying to convince a person who wants to live in gloom and doom otherwise. Give lifting that person your best shot, but don’t hang around long enough for his or her bad attitude to pull you down. Instead, surround yourself with optimistic people.”
MIKE: So aiming our attitude is our responsibility, not anyone else’s?
William James: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.”
Charles Swindoll: “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…a church… a home. “
“The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
Randall D. Worley: Yes. “Maturity is not a matter of arteries; it’s a matter of attitude.”
MIKE: So if maturity is about attitude not age, then attitude must be something all ages can set their mind to.
Robert Collier: “You can be whatever you make up your mind to be.”
Paul Karasik: “Motivation is not a matter of will-power, it is a matter of want-power.”
MIKE: But how important is it to play an active role in our attitude?
Albert Einstein: How important? “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
Earl Nightingale: Yes, and “We tend to live up to our expectations.”
MIKE: Thank you everyone. Would anyone like to add a final thought in closing?
Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
MIKE: Thank you for being here and sharing your thoughts with us.
In closing, here’s a short-story called The Great Secret to finish our Work / Life Balance series:
The Creator gathered the animals together and said, “I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realisation that they create their own reality.” The Eagle said, “Give it to me, I will take it to the moon.” The Creator said, “No. One day they will go there and find it.”
The Great White Shark said, “I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean, far beyond the Great Barrier Reef.” “No. They will go there too.” The American Buffalo said, “I will bury it on the Great Plains.” The Creator said, “They will cut into the skin of the Earth and find it even there.” Grandmother Mole, who lives in the breast of Mother Earth and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes, said, “Put it inside of them.” And the Creator said, “It is done.”
So it is when it comes to aiming our attitude for Work / Life Balance. Have you looked within to find the rudder to steer you in the right direction? Try taking your attention, even briefly, away from the daily pressures to reflect on and actively create your ideal Work / Life Balance. When you are ready, consider enlisting the help of a friend, a coach, or another trusted person to help as you make adjustments along the way.
Our attitude is either helping us or hindering us. While we are not usually responsible for life’s changing conditions, we are always responsible for how we respond to those conditions in the present moment. The ability to aim our attitude is a valuable possession that is ours to use each and every day of our lives.
Coaching Inquiries: How often do you aim your attitude? When was the last time you aimed it before starting the engine? How long has it been since you adjusted your attitude toward Work and Life? How long has it been since you set your sights on Work / Life Balance?
This Provision, and each Provision in our series on Work / Life Balance, is written by Michael J. Alafaci of www.SolutionMaps.com • Copyright Solution Maps 2005. All rights reserved. You can contact Mike by email or phone, in Australia, at 61-7-3311-5361.
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LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, Email Bob or use our online Feedback Form.
Mike’s Provisions on Work / Life Balance have been very thoughtful and inspiring. I enjoy gaining some balance each week as I read them. Might I suggest a topic for a future provision? I’d like some help with decision-making. How do we harness the thought-process along with the spiritual/soul side of ourselves to make big decisions, such as whether or not to change career directions, move to a new community, marry a particular person, or have another child. I could use some wisdom on this. (Ed. Note: Thanks for the suggestion! That could make a great Provisions’ series in the future.)
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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