Just Cheryl: Attitude vs. Aptitude, by Cheryl Leone

Attitude:  manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind: She has a positive attitude at work; also position or posture of body appropriate to an expressed thought; i.e.  The witness acted defensively.

Aptitude: capability; ability; innate or acquired capacity for something; talent: She has a special aptitude for the law Also a readiness or quickness in learning; intelligence.  He graduated at the top of his class because of his general aptitude.

Many a debate has been launched as to whether attitude trumps aptitude or vice versa.  In working with many very good employers and employees, I find myself becoming more and more convinced that while an aptitude towards the profession has to be at least at a basic level, time and time again the person that has the right attitude is promoted faster, has more job satisfaction, and has high personal satisfaction in both their personal and professional life.   It is easy to see that with the right attitude you win.  The question is what is the right attitude?  Attitude affects our career, our health, our relationships (personal and professional) and our mental well-being.   I think there is little doubt the incurable optimist lives longer.  People under stress act out of fear.  And stress kills!

Can you spot yourself in these attitude traits?

Skeptic: Skeptics doubt the truth about everything including themselves.  Being a skeptic is sometimes a good thing (like when someone tries to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge). On the negative side skeptics can be nay-sayers on everything. The perpetual skeptic will exhaust you.

Idealist:  This person sees the best possible ideal situation or ideal person.   Sometimes they are unrealistic in their expectations and it puts great stress on others.  Because they do not see what is perhaps reality they are disappointed and can be naive as to how the real world operates. An  Idealist can make you want to be better than you thought.

Stoic: This is the person who simply grins and bears it.  If the situation is in the positive side they are at peace with what is happening. If they are in the negative mode, they operate with a resigned attitude which brings everyone down.  A stoic person can defeat you if they do it all the time.   They can be rigid.

Futurist: They see the world as a place that can be better.  They are focused on what can be possible and they are the type that is constantly looking down the road.  They can be very inspiring but they can also be rigid in their beliefs of how things should be to get you there.

Cynic: They believe they see the harsh realities of the world.   On the positive side they can give you a fresh perspective but on the negative side they can constantly bring you down.

Realist: They see the world as it is as opposed to what should be or could be.  Realist see all sides of the situation and as a rule are objective.  They are usually slow to come to a decision and they need information to make decisions.

Pragmatist: This person cuts to the heart of the matter and figures out what is most practical, productive or efficient.  Sometimes they leap at a solution before they have all the facts.

Attitudes are by choice not by genetics. While we may have a certain attitude because we have developed it does not mean it is permanent.  There are pros and cons to each trait.  At the very least if you feel you can’t change a dominate attitude trait, then always work to keep on the positive side.   Some keys to making it work for you is to watch other people’s reactions to you in meetings or in settings where you find yourself being you.   Notice how much more effective you are when you take the positive side.  And learn to watch others.  A key to effective supervision, management and a positive work culture is understanding where others are coming from.

Understanding yourself is the first step into creating attitude traits that benefit you in your career and in your personal life. I consistently tell people that each day before you get out of bed, check your attitude.  It can make the difference between a great day and bad day.  As Churchill said, attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference!