Much more than people realize, we, as individuals, define our own realities. People often self impose limits on themselves. They say things like “I’m not that smart” and use cop outs. 99.9% of people are vastly underacheiving when you look at what their potential is. People get comfortable in their routine and instead of pushing themselves they just accept mediocrity.
I’ve been thinking about this particularly from a job perspective, but it’s true in any aspect of life. The reality is that the vast majority of any job isn’t exciting. Even all those paparazzi professions like actors and musicians spend the vast majority of their time doing stuff that could be perceived as boring. I’m sure rehearsing one song and playing it over and over again until it comes out perfect could get boring if you didn’t have the right attitude.
That’s what makes attitude so essential.
I’ve heard of this referred to as framing, and I like that term. The idea being that you can make things in your life exciting and interesting just by reframing them. Whatever objective reality is out there, you apply your own frame to it so that your subjective perception of it creates the situation you want yourself and others to see.
The best example I’ve heard was of a guy that when people asked him what he did, always responded, “I work with computers.” He did it in sort of a shy, introverted way and came off as self-conscious. When someone asked him what exactly he did with computers, he went on to explain that he designed the software that stealth bombers use. Instead of saying, “I work with computers,” he started saying, “I build stealth bombers.” How cool is that? He builds giant black planes that fly in sub-atmospheric levels and take high-res photos and I don’t really know what else. That’s awesome.
Another example that made me think about this was talking to a friend of mine that’s an accountant. He was saying that he wanted to go work for an outdoors company like REI or Patagonia. From a day to day perspecive, what he would be doing at his current job versus at one of those companies is probably fairly minimal. But, it would be a lot easier to frame that in a way that’s rewarding and fulfilling. He could say,”I help make awesome products so more people get to enjoy the outdoors.” That’s sounds pretty cool to me.
Framing, or changing your attitude, is how you can accomplish this. When you have a major unexpected difficulty come up in business or life, there are two ways to deal with it. You can either complain and moan and talk about how unfair it is, or you can see it as a new challenge that you have the opportunity to overcome and grow from. That’s a false dichotomy to an extent, you can wind up somewhere in between, but in my (limited) experience, people tend to fall pretty clearly into one camp or the other.
Either way, it begins with an attitude shift. Taking personally responsibility means you owning up to your mistakes and decisions. More than that though, it sometimes means accepting factors that are outside your control and taking responsibility of them. That’s the part that is the most difficult.
When have a good attitude, it can create a positive feedback cycle that, in the end, quantitatively improves your situation. The key here though is to not to just improve your attitude, but make sure that your improved attitude gets translated into action. If you take action, then you’ll get little wins, and little wins will make you believe more in your new attitude. That will cause you to take action again. In the end, you put yourself into a positive feedback loops where an initially small improvement in your attitude can lead to major life changes. In fact, it might make it easier when you see things more optimistically.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Yea, I know this quote is really cliche, but it’s true. If you start today and make consistent small changes, you can radically change your life in five years. I don’t feel like I’ve done a very good job of this and I still feel I’ve made real strides in the last five years. So as long as you stick with it, even half-assing it is enough to see significant results.
There’s nothing wrong with seeing the world through rose colored glasses, as long as you’re rocking out and taking care of business from the backside of those shades.