How important is your attitude to your success? No doubt, you need to have some knowledge and some skill in your chosen field, but moderate skills and a great attitude will always get you further than superior skills and a lousy attitude. In my experience, attitude is everything.
My Definition of Attitude
What is this thing called “attitude”? I define it as the average of a person’s reactions to the problems of life. “Life” is a collection of situations, circumstances, events, and meeting people. Life will throw obstacles and barriers in your path. It will challenge you in every way and try to upset you and it will stop you if you let it.
In dealing with problems and challenges, people make decisions or conclusions about themselves and life. Those decisions accumulate and form the basis of one’s attitude. Say, for instance, John wants to sell used cars. He gets a job at a dealership and for 90 days, he struggles along. John fails to make any sales and the dealership has to let him go.
John could come to a number of conclusions:
- “I’m a failure. I don’t have what it takes to be a salesman.”
- “Employers are mean. They don’t give you a chance.”
- “Prospects don’t know what they want. They just waste my time.”
- “Hmm, maybe I need to learn something about how to sell.”
If a person takes setbacks, failures, and rejections personally, they “accept defeat,” begin to feel beaten down, and defensive toward life. If they take them as opportunities to learn or improve, they cultivate a better attitude toward life. They give themselves the opportunity to rise above setbacks.
Hence, your attitude governs your altitude.
The Value of Soft Skills
For some people, this attitude idea is self-evident. Others may not find it so, but I am not alone in my position.
Mark Murphy, author of Hiring for Attitude, tracked 20,000 newly-hired people and found that 46% of them failed within 18 months. What’s even more alarming are the reasons for failure: 89% of the time it was attitude related, 26% failed because they couldn’t accept feedback, 23% because they were unable to understand and manage emotions, 17% because they lacked the necessary motivation to excel, and 15% because they had the wrong temperament for the job. Only 11% of failures were due to lack of necessary technical skills.
These attitude-related factors are among the “soft skills”—the personality and social traits that also include things like good manners, optimism, a sense of humor, situational awareness, and the ability to collaborate.
In the early 1900s, author Napoleon Hill studied 500 millionaires in order to discover the formula for success. In 1937, he published his findings in his best-selling book, Think and Grow Rich. Among the common threads he noticed was each of these millionaires was likeable and displayed an ability and willingness to cooperate with other people. By today’s terminology, these millionaires all possessed soft skills.
Some people reading this might be thinking, “Yeah Matt, but people with bad attitudes succeed too.” That’s true, but what is success if you’re miserable? If you feel you’ve always got to fight? If you don’t get along with people? If you live a life of constant struggle? The ability to enjoy life, your work, and other people is part of success, too.
How This Works in My Company
Even though I only recently learned the term “soft skills,” I have observed this factor in action and instinctively used it in hiring and firing employees whose lack of soft skills harms business or productivity.
MOBE is a sales-driven company. Selling ability is key, but killer sales ability alone won’t secure you a job with MOBE. Our salespeople—and all of our staff—must be able to cooperate and get along well with others. That includes prospects, customers, coworkers, and management.
The reason is the same today as when Napoleon first expressed it in 1937: “Success comes through the application of power, and power is attained through the cooperative efforts of other people.”
One example of this is our telephone coaches. These are the people whose job it is to guide and develop our new affiliates. Currently, MOBE has about 50 coaches for our “45-Minute Paydays” program. Each works from home and may interact with as many as dozen new affiliates a day.
Our telephone coaches are also effective sales people but it’s not just any kind of selling. Rather, they have to sell in such a way that it strengthens relationships with affiliates and creates a “win-win.” We never “crush” someone into buying anything.
That kind of relationship-building sales ability is what we look for when we hire a coach. And we pay well for it; our top guys earn a high six figures a year.
MOBE has grown from a one-man operation to an international staff of more than 180 in a matter of a few years. We are frequently looking for good help. Whether in sales or another position, we always look at a person’s attitude and their general demeanor. We want people who get along with others and can function as part of a team. (If you’re interested in applying for a job here, go to this page on our website to see the open positions.)
If you run your own company, you will eventually discover that experienced help is not always enough. You will get farther and get there more happily if you hire people who you can get along with—and by being someone that others can get along with.