Emotions career success

Published on June 29th, 2015 | by Nancy F. Clark


The Most Important Attitude Changes For Women’s Career Success

By Kayla Matthews—

Successful people don’t typically become successful because they fought their way to the top on their own, or because they crushed all their competitors into dust along the way.

Many successful people value passion and optimism in their work and prefer to be surrounded with a team who values similar traits.

While being competitive and having a drive to succeed are certainly factors that influence success, having the right attitudes toward your work can influence your success, as well.

True success comes not through impersonal shortcuts but through the thoughtful cultivation of key attitudes and character traits. Below are four attitudes you should try to cultivate each day in order be happier and more successful at work.

1.  Use Positivity As Your Lens

The most important, fundamental attitude for success is positivity. The other three traits on this list all depend on a foundation of positivity.

If you want a humorous, heartfelt, rapid-pace explanation of the importance of positivity, I encourage you to watch Shawn Anchor’s TED Talk. This Harvard-educated CEO of Goodthink Inc. has dedicated his career to understanding the ways in which positivity affects both happiness and success.

In his talk, Anchor states that it is “not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.”

Shawn assisted Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar in teaching the most popular class at Harvard, How To Become Happier.  In his 7 Lessons On Earning The Ultimate Currency: Happiness, Tal says, “Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account.”

One of my first jobs was that of serving tables at a restaurant, and my boss was consistently negative and demoralizing. She made it her mission to always find something wrong. There was no praise for a job well done, no thanks for stepping up in a crisis and no positive acknowledgement of any kind – only nit-picking.

This attitude led many staff members to adopt a “who cares” outlook to their jobs. Why waste their efforts doing their best when it never made a difference?

My boss’s negative attitude – her lens – was the root of her own unhappiness and the biggest stumbling block to her success both as a boss and as a restaurateur. Her constant search for failure became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Anchor’s says he’s found, through his research, that “75 percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat … Your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed.”

Why does the brain perform better with positivity? One word: dopamine. This neurotransmitter is released when we are positive and it serves two functions: It makes you happier and turns on the learning centers in your brain.

Positivity frees us from the constraints of a negative worldview and activates our brains in ways that allow us to learn and achieve more than we can in any other frame of mind.

2.  Experience Pride In Your Work

The problem with talking about pride is that the word pride is often used to refer to two very disparate attitudes. The positive, healthy pride refers to “a feeling of happiness that you get when you or someone you know does something good, difficult, etc. … a reasonable or justifiable self-respect” (Merriam Webster).

And, while this kind of pride is good for your self-confidence and morale, it’s important to cultivate a second kind of pride by taking pride in your work. This means choosing to do your job well, no matter the circumstances, no matter the task.

The “who cares” attitude my restaurant coworkers adopted revealed a lack of pride in their work. They were willing to put forth effort only if our boss thanked them for each and every task.

I will always be grateful for the example of one of my managers, who always sought to do her job to the best of her abilities. Her goal wasn’t to receive praise, but to put in a day’s work that she could be proud of, work that would provide the best possible service to our customers.

Taking pride in your work is, at its heart, about self-respect. Taking pride in your work means respecting yourself, knowing that your work will not only affect others but also serve as a reflection of you.

Positive pride and a strong work ethic enable you to work hard and continue to improve no matter what kind of job or boss you have. Rather than becoming run down or stuck thanks to someone else’s negative comments, this kind of self-respect will help you continue moving forward.

 3.  Replace Competition With Having Confidence In Others

A foundation of positivity allows us to break free from the constraints of competition. A negative lens makes us perceive our coworkers as either people to fear as competition or people to look down on in an effort to boost your own self-confidence.

Viewing co-workers in this way leads to negative, destructive behaviors. We begin to seek success by proving we are better than our co-workers, subconsciously looking for ways to undermine them and hoard success for ourselves. Rather than taking pride in our own work, we take solace in the failure of others.

Yet, not only does this attitude undermine your relationships with your co-workers and create a hostile work environment, it also undermines your chances for success. A lack of trust in your co-workers can sabotage your company’s success as well as your own.

Confidence in others, trust, cooperation, teamwork; whatever you wish to call it – it all goes a long way toward creating an environment where employees can work together for the success of one organization. In such an environment, the success of an individual is celebrated rather than perceived as a threat to others. When the success of a co-worker is not a threat, employees are able to achieve greater success personally and for the company at large.

 4.  Develop Loyalty To Your Career

Loyalty to your work is partially about longevity, but it is more so about commitment.

What does that mean? It means that resigning yourself to working your whole life at the first business to hire you isn’t necessarily loyalty. In this scenario, most employees stay either out of laziness or fear of the unknown, neither of which makes you a truly loyal employee.

The attitude you want to cultivate is commitment. Like positivity, taking pride in your work and having confidence in your team, loyalty is about doing your best and challenging yourself for the betterment of your organization and your career.

This is why it is so important to seek employment with companies whose core values match your own. You don’t have to work for one company forever, but it is important to your morale to ensure that you believe in the work you are doing for as long as you are doing it. This means finding a company with a mission statement you can agree with, or entering a field that you are highly passionate about.

If all four of these attitudes sound more like recipes for good work than for overnight megamillions or instant happiness and success, that’s because they are.

Positivity, pride, loyalty and teamwork help you to do your best work, no matter the circumstances. It is by consistently doing your best work that you can overcome the challenges, stresses and negative attitudes that stand between you and career success and happiness.

The philosopher Epictetus once said, “It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble. We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”

In the recent post,  Rewire Your Brain For Happiness, Rick Hanson says, “The brain takes its shape from what the mind rests upon.”

It is our attitude and actions, not our circumstances, that determine our chances for success. Cultivating these four attitudes will help you maximize your happiness and chances of success in the future.


Kayla Matthews, founder of Productivity Theory, has a passion for mindfulness and positivity. You can follow Kayla on Twitter.

Nancy Clark is CEO of PositivityDaily, Director of Forbes WomensMedia, and author of The Positive Journal. She coaches companies and executives in business skills with the added benefit of training in positive psychology and happiness -- incorporating the latest scientific studies on changing brain patterns and habits. Clark believes that positivity is the next necessary step to engage employees.

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About the Author

Nancy Clark is CEO of PositivityDaily, Director of Forbes WomensMedia, and author of The Positive Journal. She coaches companies and executives in business skills with the added benefit of training in positive psychology and happiness -- incorporating the latest scientific studies on changing brain patterns and habits. Clark believes that positivity is the next necessary step to engage employees.

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