Piece of Advice: “Attitude of Gratitude”

A Piece of Advice – Discovery Challenge

“This week’s challenge brings out the positive: tell us about a piece of advice you’ve received — and would like to share with others.”

One story immediately comes to mind:

A friend of mine, let’s call him John, told me how the CEO (aka Bossman) of his company rules with an iron fist. He’s the guy who puts the fear of God into people when they mess up. He’s pretty ruthless with calling out your shortcomings when you produce low quality work.

His boss once told him that the best place to be is not in his office. Meaning if someone is called into his office and his door is closed, it’s almost guaranteed that he’s tearing them a new one.

You would think people would dread coming to everyday. He says his workplace has a high turnover rate.

On the contrary, however, many of the people who don’t quit or get fired immediately love coming to work. The environment is fun, everyone has a good attitude, people are constantly challenge with their workload and forced to grow. Aside from the occasional meetings the Bossman will have with teams that aren’t performing, there’s a general consensus that his management style is an effective way to keep people on their toes and productive.

One time, John finds himself in the Bossman’s office. He recently got promoted into a new position and was having difficulty keeping up with the workload. He made a few minor mistakes, which was understandable considering he’s never done this type of work before.

He goes into Bossman’s office, closes the door, and takes a seat at his huge, glass desk. Bossman starts laying it in, point out all of his errors, belittling his work and saying he doesn’t have a brain and yelling at him about how it should be done.

The entire time, John starts to feel humiliated, insecure, frustrated at himself, angry at Bossman for yelling at him, and stressed out about the whole situation. I mean, who wants to be yelled at?

While he’s being yelled at, he just takes it all in silence. Why argue with a guy like this? It won’t make a difference whatever he tries to say. Guys like his boss will always think they’re right no matter what they say. The smart thing to do, he thought, was just to take it.

At the end of the roast, while his ego is at an all time low, his boss asks, “do you have anything to say?”

What should he do? Be defensive? Say how he feels disrespected by the way he was treated? Mention how he could have been nicer in his reproach? Blame someone else?

“Thank you. You’re right and I’ll take what you said, apply it, and improve so those mistakes won’t happen again” John says.

An attitude of gratitude, he thought.

He told me that he had learned when all else fails, putting on an attitude of gratitude is key.

Think about it, it changes your mindset so that you can reframe it from a negative experience to a positive, learning experience. In turn, you will react and respond to the event in a totally different way.

Instead of interpreting his boss reprimanding him as a sign of failure, he saw it as an opportunity to learn from his boss’s feedback, improve, and become better. And he was grateful for his boss calling him out because a boss who didn’t care wouldn’t even take the time to teach him a lesson.

From that point forward, John raised his standards for himself and consistently produced high-quality work. Half out of fear of being yelled at by Bossman, but half because of the satisfaction he gets from knowing he’s constantly growing and becoming better at his craft.

“At my workplace,” John says, “the high volume and steep learning curve will weed out the ones who can’t hang. But the ones who stay tend to produce at such a higher level than they ever thought they were capable of.”

But this wouldn’t be possible, I presume, if people aren’t able to have the right attitude.

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