Sometimes, the outlook people have on life is amazing. While I consider myself a positive person when it comes to work as well as life in general, I do know that there are those out there who are not. Although I acknowledge this and accept it, I am still a bit baffled that those with poor attitudes about their work still find a place in the modern workforce. A story I heard this weekend reinforced my belief.
A grandfather sat with his granddaughter at a café enjoying a cool drink. A stranger came up to them and informed them that he was new to town and wanted to know what kind of people lived there. The grandfather immediately asked what kind of people lived in the stranger’s old town. The stranger replied that people there were rude, hostile, and generally angry at everything and everyone. The grandfather then told the stranger that he would find that this town was pretty much the same way.
A few minutes later, another stranger approached the café and informed them that he was new to town and wanted to know what kind of people he would find. Again, the grandfather asked what kind of people lived in the stranger’s previous town. This stranger replied that his last town had great people who were always kind and helpful. The grandfather assured the stranger that the people of this town had those same traits.
Once the second stranger left, the granddaughter, who had been listening intently, asked her grandfather why he told the two strangers different things about the town. He replied that people bring with them their own influences and experiences and that these often affect us in how we perceive the world. If someone sees things negatively in one place, they will likely come to find these same things in another.
It’s important to remember that rarely are things so different in the long run that how we find or define one organization will ultimately be different than how we find or define another one. When I first started in my current organization, our HR processes were good at recruiting and hiring people with experience in the field as that was the most important factor. Now, since we have a robust training program that our new hires go through, we have found that previous experience in the field does not translate to finding success in our organization. What does make a difference is the prevailing attitude one has when coming in to the organization. If someone starts off with a negative attitude, is there any hope of turning it positive as time goes on? I contend that rarely does this happen. A mantra that I’ve emphasized to the managers in my organization is that they should hire for attitude as we can train the rest.
How do outlooks change in life? Can a work experience truly take a negative attitude and turn it positive or is it something more ingrained? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Photo credit – Dunechaser (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dunechaser/253066484/)