Your attitude determines your altitude – in business and in life. You can’t change someone else’s attitude for them. However, this is a powerful reminder that you can put in front of anyone who needs an attitude adjustment. Let's look at some of the ways each of us as Black owned businesses and our supporters can develop winning attitudes to use in every day life.
Maya Angelou, one of our great American poets and civil rights activist once said, “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”
Ms. Angelou, speaking further on the quote said: “ Those dealing with cancer, death and real misfortune still remember to count their blessings.”
I'm not saying that we are to have a ‘head in the sand, everything is lovely' attitude toward all our problems. No. I know that life isn’t that simple. But I am saying – in the strongest terms – that we have to as a people, assume a more positive attitude instead of this negative one we have come to embrace.
Our mental attitude is the power that we hold in our heads. It is possible for our reality to be changed dramatically by a single thought. Because contrary to what people want to believe, outside influences don’t usually determine your happiness or success, rather it is how we react to those influences – negative or positive. So how do you change your reactions to those outside forces?
You change your reactions by making how you react a conscious priority, which means you do it daily until it becomes a habit.
Avoiding cynicism and embracing humor is vital. When things aren’t going your way, keep everything in perspective and relax… (I know..no one has ever relaxed when someone says, ‘relax'). But throughout my life, I have found healing in laughter. Not the kind that brings down other people by calling them names or judging their character… the kind of laughter and humor that builds people up…and causes sides and smile lines to ache.
Another thing we to facilitate a more positive attitude is to say “Bye Felicia!” to self hatred. Positive self-confident feelings not only will help you achieve more; they also make others want to be associated with you. Ever notice how people are drawn to others who have an upbeat outlook on life, who have a can-do attitude? Constant complainers don’t collect an easy following… and the following they do collect don't bring value. I'm reminded of one of our great civil rights leader Malcolm X asking, “Who taught you to hate yourself…?”
As a Black owned business owner, you are now also a leader. One important job of a leader is to set a positive and self-confident tone. This is a cornerstone of leadership. It’s the same confidence that a quarterback, a golfer, or a tennis star projects every time they come out of the locker room. You need to exude the same tone when you open up your store or conduct business.
To gain strength from the positive and not be sapped by the negative, here are a few ideas:
Focus on the people who will run with your vision and your plan – don't let the naysayers drain you or your team.
Respect spiritual guidance – use your spirit and your heart to move you and your work forward.
Break the negative energy cycle – if you see yourself spiraling down or getting caught up in some negative conversations whether on social media or in face to face life…breakup the routine and do something fast that lifts you up. Business owners, when you see one of your team members in a rut of unproductive or unprofessional behavior address it, don’t let it fester.
Do Active listening – Work at it, to hear what your team and consumers want. Often just by being heard, problems can go away and people really make a big turnaround.
We must become the emotional managers of our lives and our community – not the media…or others who do not understand the oppressions we face. In a family, parents must be the emotional managers or chaos rules the home. In your business, you must bear that responsibility, even if you are reluctantly at times. It’s part of your leadership role and power.
If we take time to focus on it, as well as changing our reactions to external events, we’ll see the culture around us shift to the positive.
A negative attitude will pull us down and with it our results. A positive attitude will pull us over the rough spots, allowing us to reach new heights as a people – expanding our vision. Whether you need an attitude adjustment a couple of times a day, once a week or only occasionally, never forget that your attitude will determine your altitude so don’t let outside people or events bring yours down.