How to Succeed in a Career By Really Trying – Attitude

If Competence and Growth Potential are more concerned with What you do and What you add to the value of the organization’s goods and services, then the attributes under Attitude are more concerned with How you go about contributing this added value.  They also help form a link between what you do and the purpose you find in why you do it.  As such, they are focused more on the lower level in the Behavior Framework and their presence is easily associated with Positive Sum (+∑) behaviors (Games People Play), and their absence more with Zero Sum (0∑) or Negative Sum
(–∑) behaviors.

Behavior Framework & Growth

Behavior Framework & Growth

Perseverance and Commitment

Perseverance is exercising your work ethic daily.  This is an integral part of who you Are in your Behavior Framework, and reflects your basic Values and Principles.  Stick through resolving a task, issue or problem (but learn to recognize when to stop).  It may once again be the same-old, same-old, but persevere.  And if possible figure out some way to make things more efficient, effective, and interesting (see Continuous Learning, previously).  In other words, demonstrate you can be sufficiently creative and make the task interesting.  It is expected in your area of competence.  As employer, I want to see this in you so that I know you can see the organization’s or department’s long term objectives and positive outcomes and persevere through the more mundane in order to get there.  This reflects on your seeing purpose in what you do and how you do it.

Perseverance is also related to commitment.  Show commitment to the health of the organization (i.e., your job of adding value).  You may (probably) eventually be asked to work on a less than desirable task that others will refuse because they don’t see it as advancing their careers.  They are right, probably, that the less than desirable task won’t advance their careers, or yours.  But, your positive work ethic, commitment, perseverance, and competence in doing the task well, will advance your career.  Keep in mind that management has many of these types of tasks also; like having to manage unmotivated employees who are neither committed nor persevere without being pushed.

Why?  Two fundamental reasons: first, there will always be problems, and second, you will never have all the information you need to resolve the problems  (Fundamental Principle 6: Incomplete Information, which is a problem itself).  Sometimes we just have to slug it out to keep a customer (external or internal) happy and the organization healthy.


This is an attitude that affects your attitude.  Self-Motivation is growing in who you Are, developing the desirable internal attitude to pull yourself in a growth direction (up and to the right in each level of the Behavior Framework), rather than constantly needing to be pushed from the outside. This intangible attribute shows up when I look for the first four: Competence, Growth Potential, Perseverance, and Commitment.  If Self-Motivation is not there, these first four attributes will be very difficult to pull off.

Why? A motivated employee is far easier to steer than a parked one; a Self-Motivated employee learns to steer him or herself.  Look at this from a physics viewpoint (why not?).  Work (that is, added value) can only be accomplished when there is motion in a body.  Similarly, a parked employee (unmotivated) can add no value and does not contribute to organizational health.  Self-motivation is directly implied in Fundamental Principle 4c: Positive Sum Games, and 5: Three Types of People (the first Type, those who make things happen).


This is Emotional Intelligence (EQ), being aware of your Values, Principles and skills; who you Are and your Abilities, and what you are capable of doing (and becoming), especially in a collaborative (team) environment.  Know your strengths and weaknesses, what motivates you, and how you can manage them.  This includes not only knowing what interpersonal people skills you have and need to use but what management and supervisory skills you need to use as well.

This means knowing how you can best manage up (to supervision), how to manage horizontally (with peers, team members, and across functional lines), as well as how you should manage down to those lower in the organization than you, whether they report to you or not.

Most importantly you should be aware of what management techniques will be most effective in managing you.  There is much to be gained by being familiar with the Situational Leadership techniques of Hersey and Blanchard.

Why?  While you are the captain of your career ship, even when it is docked you need help ashore.  You won’t work in a vacuum.  You need the help of others to get your job accomplished and the maximum value added; and they will need you for theirs.  You will all work together in a unique culture.  What is it, what defines it, and how are you fitting in?

These Attitude attributes are the wind-up spring (Self-Motivation) and steering devices (Perseverance, Commitment, Self-Awareness) that affect How you deliver added value in what you do.  Even if you can make a perfect widget, how you go about making it is pretty visible and easily observed, and will have a tangible effect on the organization.  Are they going to be the behaviors in a Positive Sum (+∑) environment, or a Negative (–∑) or Zero Sum (0∑) one?  The more effective, efficient, and positive these attributes are, the healthier the organization (and you) can be.

Next: Character attributes


About Jim Edmonds

I am a husband, father, mentor, who once was a chemist turned physicist turned marketer turned executive turned missionary turned professor. And survived it all.
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