Provision #642: Work Your Attitude

Laser Provision

We often think of attitude as a mental framework, but in reality it’s so much more. Attitude involves our whole being and we have to put it out in the world if we hope to experience its benefits. That’s especially true when it comes appreciation. Appreciation is no thing to keep to ourselves; it is meant to be shared. When we give it away we receive it back many times over. So why not work that attitude today? Do it, and I’m sure you’ll experience the gift.

LifeTrek Provision

I’m writing this Provision while I am again sitting in a chair in the sky, only this time I’m flying over the South China Sea on my way to Vietnam (the Vietnamese prefer to call it the East Sea). We’ve had a wonderful conference in Manila, making many connections that we expect will develop in interesting and engaging ways over time.

It’s wonderful to be appreciated. Given our strong desire to contribute in meaningful ways to the growth and development of others, especially educators working in primary and secondary schools, the opportunity to connect with the International Schools movement in this way has been especially satisfying. We truly want to thank the many people who have made this all possible.

While in Manila, we spent virtually all of our time at the Conference hotel. Giving a total of eight presentations over the course of three days did not leave us with much time for sightseeing! We did, however, get to know many of the people who work at the hotel, and that was a real joy. Rico, who made the omelets every morning, Raul, who cleaned our room every day, Philip who carted around the luggage, Maria and Daisy, massage therapists at the Chi spa, and Ericka, who worked the morning shift at the health club, all made memorable impressions.

They did so by working their attitude. Now I’m sure they were taught do so by a hotel which boasted having the “friendliest employees in Manila,” but it came across as genuine and it definitely lifted our spirits. It’s impossible to have someone look you in the eye, smile, and greet you with a musical lilt to their voice and not have it rub off in return. I found myself becoming more vocal in my expressions of appreciation with each passing day.

That’s essential to making appreciation work. If we really feel it in our bones, as I wrote about and encouraged you to do last week, then it has to come out in how we approach, treat, relate to, and greet other people. Appreciation is not a concept in theory; it is a way of being in practice. While it is true that we have to feel it in order for it to come out of our horn, it also true that it has to come out of our horn if we hope to feel it.

The inner resonance and the outer expression of appreciation are part and parcel of one reality. They contribute to and feed into each other in mutually constructive ways. They work together. So here’s the secret: it doesn’t really matter where you start, you’ll end up with both if you do either one consistently.

It’s hard for me to imagine, for example, that all those greetings, smiles, and appreciations being expressed by the people at that hotel do not have some positive, residual effects after those folks get off work. I suppose they could resent having to be friendly all day long, grumbling all the way home, but they could also benefit from their appreciative, on-the-job training. I know I, for one, feel better when I remember to smile and greet people in a friendly way. It’s hard to fake that.

Humorist Loretta Laroche likes to make this connection in her presentations. “If you smile or laugh long enough,” she notes, “sooner or later your brain gets the message, ‘I must be happy.'” And so it is. When we work the attitude of appreciation, when we put it out there in the world, when we share it with others in ways that make them smile in return, our own countenance improves.

So let that be our way in the world as often as we can bring ourselves to remember. Every time we meet or interact with someone is not too often! Express appreciation not just when someone does something nice; express appreciation whenever someone comes into your sphere of influence. The common bond of humanity is reason enough. We are not alone. Isn’t that worth celebrating?

Over time, I have come to appreciate that connection much more fully and consistently. I’m still not as good as many people I know, but I’m better than I used to be. Instead of taking people for granted, being impatient, or otherwise acting as though the world owes me a living, I am much more inclined to experience people as gifts, to be tolerant, and to otherwise act as though I owe the world my appreciation.

That’s what I mean by working our attitude. If we want to make life more wonderful, then we have to express an appreciative attitude at every opportunity. I’m finishing this Provision at sea level, after spending several days in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The traffic here is a real inspiration. Sure, it’s crazy. But it’s also beautiful as people give way to accommodate each other on the road. There is no road rage here, because there are no hard and fast rules to follow (except, perhaps, when the police are looking).

It wouldn’t be smart to drive the wrong way on a one way street, but people do it. They also drive on the sidewalks. And they drive in every direction imaginable while on the road. The first time I saw drivers making a left turn, let alone a U Turn, into oncoming traffic, I found myself astonished. There were no accidents, and no flaring tempers. There was simply a gentle giving way as the traffic enveloped and worked its way around us. Beautiful.

To make that work, there’s a lot of eye contact and hand signals in Vietnamese driving. People are constantly checking, flagging, indicating, nodding, asserting, testing, accommodating, and otherwise connecting with those around them in this thing they do called driving. It looks crazy, but it functions amazingly well. That’s because people take an appreciative attitude when it comes to the interactions on the road. They count on and cultivate the cooperation of other drivers to survive and thrive through it all.

Appreciation can do that. When we allow our attitude to show, when we work it for all it’s worth, when we express appreciation to one and all, life has a way of becoming more wonderful. It’s not enough to feel appreciation in our hearts; we also have to let it show in our lives. The inward and outward journey are one; so connect the dots and live!

Coaching Inquiries: How could you express more appreciation in life and work? Who could you reach out to with an appreciative word or deed? How could you work that attitude as your standard mode of operation? What is one specific thing you could do right not to make it so?

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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, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.

I’m printing out your latest Provision, It’s All Good, to send to my sister. She’s back in the hospital. Thanks for the encouraging words.

After nearly a decade, I am still reading your Provisions. Thanks for all your good words & inspiration! I thought you might enjoy reading about Jim Tornes; remember him from Rotary? Speaking of inspiration! Walking Tall Article 

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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