How to Have and Maintain A Great Attitude

Are You Attractive?

Think about a person you admire and like; what is it that attracts you the most? Is it? (a). Their appearance. (b). Their wealth. (c). Their status (d). Their attitude. I am sure the first three items were so tempting to select until you got to their attitude. We can agree people’s attitudes trump their appearance, wealth, and their status. A good attitude goes a long way in deciding who we want to be associated with. A restaurant server with a positive attitude will get more in tips than a server with an unattractive attitude. The best way to keep your best foot forward in unlocking potential opportunities tied to people is by always having a great attitude.

What Your Attitude Can’t …

With the COVID pandemic came a lot of adjustment. Working remotely was one of the significant adjustments that many people had to acclimate to across all work sectors. As a Ph. D. candidate, I was impacted, and I was not sure how I would successfully conduct my research, given that a huge portion of my work could not be conducted virtually. A few weeks into the shutdowns and shelter-in-place, I realized my biggest concern was not my research but my relationship with my research advisor (my boss). My relationship with her became strenuous; communication broke down, and tensions between us rose. I found myself always complaining about her and almost quit working with her.

Luckily, things changed for the better when I received a call from the Dean in June. Before the strenuous relationship, I would have graded my attitude as an A+. I have always been ‘Mr. Great Attitude Guy’ who is always smiling. But through the wisdom of the dean of our school, I came to an awakening discovery. I learned that my expectation that my boss would change was causing more problems than helping the situation. I had completely forgotten it is not what happens to me, but what happens in me that matters. It had been a while since I did an attitude checkup and adjustment. While I could have blamed the COVID pandemic stress for my predicament, I decided to audit my attitude and use the issue as a learning experience. The reflection of what had been going on led me to discover two truths about what our attitude can’t do. First, your attitude or even mine, can’t get better automatically. Second, your attitude and mind can’t remain or stay great by itself. Despite having a track record for a great attitude, my past attitude did not guarantee that my attitude would be good in the future. I must put in the work to maintain a good attitude. So, we must pay the price of having and maintain a great attitude by intentionally and diligently working on attitude adjustment as required.

Cost for Poor Attitude

Without realizing the truths about what your attitude can’t do, get better automatically or remain great on its own, you might find yourself in a strenuous relationship as I was. Worst still, you might lose an opportunity to achieve (or delay) your goals. The breakdown of the relationship with my research advisor would have cost me more than it would have cost her. For her, she has a Ph.D. already, and she could get another student. But for me, it would mean leaving her lab where cutting-edge research happens, delaying or forfeiting my graduate study, and poor relationships with others who would have been involved like our Dean. The cost of poor attitude is poor performance, broken relationships, and ultimately failure to maximize our potential.

Therefore, if the cost of a poor attitude is this expensive, what can we do to make sure we have and maintain a great attitude?

The Bedrock of a Great Attitude

1. Perspective: Expand and Elevate Your Outlook

A change of attitude starts with a shift in perspective. I was fortunate in my situation with my boss since I got a chance to receive wise counsel from the Dean. For the past two years, I have been a graduate student at my school, I have had the opportunity to forge a good relationship with the Dean and his associates. When they heard of what was going on between my research advisor and me, the Dean took the initiative to reach out to me. He candidly listened to my concerns and asked lots of questions. Once I finished speaking, revealing my attitude, the Dean slowly helped me develop an expanded and elevated outlook of the situation. He helped me realize that despite the sour relationship; my research advisor still wanted me to be successful. The Dean made me see other positive things my boss did for me. He also made me see my potential for success, regardless of what was happening at the moment. It took me a few days before realizing the impact of the conversation I had with the Dean. My perspective was expanded and elevated, and my attitude was shifting positively.

An expanded and elevated outlook helps our attitude in three major ways. First, it allows us to realize there is more to it than we can see. The more I interact with people, I realize that those who travel a lot, have gone to many countries or regions, and interacted with many cultures, possess a better attitude. Second, you get to see what is important when you expand and elevate your perspective. Third, people with expanded and elevated perspectives see other people’s point of view, which helps them with their attitudes.

2. Relationships: surround yourself with people of great attitude

While our attitude can deepen or break our relationships, the people we continuously interact with significantly influence our attitudes. As I have seen with what I shared with you above, my good relationship with the Dean helped my perspective and subsequently improved my attitude. While the case with my Dean is a once in a while occurrence, the people who significantly shape my attitude are the ones I spend a good deal of time with. I have found the words of Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” to be true. I have been privileged to have great guys with great attitudes consistently help me with attitude. When dealing with the relationship issue between my research advisor and me, a young third-year undergraduate student I mentor, immensely helped my attitude adjustment. Her outstanding attitude provided an example to emulate. Working with her, whether virtually or in the lab (social distancing), has greatly helped me have a great attitude. As a scientist, I would put it this way, attitude can diffuse from one person to another, so be careful who you hang out with. Surround yourself with people of great attitude and they will challenge you to grow in the area of attitude.

3. Purpose: Find your purpose and let it guide you

Since I told my mentor, Mr. Waiyaki, about my goals of attaining a Doctorate, he has always called me Daktari, the Swahili name for Doctor. Over the years, I have found that he always reminds me of who I want to be and has helped me maintain a clear view of my goal and purpose. With a clear picture of what I want to achieve, I found it  easier to adjust my attitude and rebuild my relationship with my boss. To have and maintain a great attitude, you must find your purpose and allow it to guide you in developing the attitude required to accomplish your goals. Purpose will keep you grounded in a great attitude. It will help you pivot faster when you drift into a poor attitude. And lastly, it will help you keep weeds away.

In summary, an expanded and elevated perspective will help pivot towards a good attitude. The people you surround yourself with will infuse and nurture their attitudes in you. Your purpose anchors your attitude and enables you to maintain it.

What is Next…

Next, we will look at the Diseases of attitude. Before then, here is a question to ponder on. Which of the three, perspective, relationships, or purpose, do you need to work on to help your attitude?

7 Comments Add yours

  1. E. L. Jayne says:

    Hi Sam, I really like this article. The opening was great… Sometimes it’s so easy to envy people’s appearance, status, wealth, but at the end of the day attitude trumps everything. I’ve always thought of myself having a great attitude, it runs in my family. But during this quarantine I’ve found it too easy to focus on myself and lose perspective of the outside world. Perspective is the area I have been working on recently, because I’ve felt more alone and less fulfilled than I am comfortable with. When I consciously snap out of my inwardness it’s easy for me to see the big picture, but it’s always easy to get wrapped up in my own problems, stressors, etc.


    1. Sam Gichuki says:

      Hello Jayne. Sometimes it’s easy to drift into a negative attitude even through we have good attitude. I applaud for you self awareness that enabled you to catch yourself when you drifted.
      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. E. L. Jayne says:

        Thanks Sam, I think awareness might be one of the biggest steps, although it may not feel like it. So thank you for that “pat on the back” if I may, a little kudos goes a long way 🙂 Best, E


  2. Nzube says:

    This is an awesome piece Sam. This piece of writing widened my experience and opened my eyes to truly look inwardly for some minutes and think about my attitude and the people I surround myself with. Very important point to be conscious of people you surround yourself with because even with great attitude if you surround yourself with folks with negative attitude to life, your perspective about life will begin to change gradually .

    I am looking forward to to reading your next article

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sam Gichuki says:

      Hello Nzube. I am glad the article add value to you. Thank you for spending time to read it.


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