by Joanne Hession, founder of LIFT Ireland

Three things determine who I am, how I behave and shape my perspective:

  1. My natural wired behaviour;
  2. My experiences (some good and some bad);
  3. My values, which are like a lens through which I view the world.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to naturally lean towards a positive attitude, something that I’m really thankful to have inherited from my mother.  This, coupled with my life’s experiences and my personal values, has helped me overcome many obstacles and keep learning from adversity, allowing me to improve and keep striving to achieve my potential.

We can’t control events but we can control how we deal with them 

Having a positive attitude affects how I approach every aspect of my life.  I find that it can be easy to fall into a habit of seeing the negatives in situations and that being positive is almost always a deliberate choice that I have to ‘train myself’ to make. This choice is one that is worth making because it allows me to maintain control over how I respond to difficulty. While I cannot control everything that happens to me, I can always control what I think and how I respond. My attitude can be whatever I want it to be, even in the most difficult situations.

Having a positive attitude can sometimes be dismissed as having a ‘Pollyanna perspective’, but to see it that way is not accurate. Adopting a positive attitude does not mean that I am always happy about everything that happens or that I wilfully ignore the reality of difficult or painful situations.  We all deal with difficult and painful things at times.

Attitude is a choice

However, in nearly all situations, we can choose not to be defeated by our problems and pain.  In Man’s Search for Meaning, psychologist and WW2 concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl said that ‘We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way’. I think that this is the central issue: a positive attitude allows me to focus on what I can do to respond to my situation in a way that allows me to maintain my integrity, rather than losing hope because of my inabilities or loss of control.

I believe that by choosing to adopt a positive attitude and mindset I tend to be more optimistic and hopeful about the future. I try to look for opportunities and new challenges instead of only seeing obstacles. I have found that positive people in general seem to enjoy life more and their positivity is contagious, having a positive impact on others around them.  These are people I want to surround myself with, their attitude is contagious and fun!

Positive attitude builds our resilience 

Although I consider myself to be generally positive, I know there are days when circumstances get the better of me and my attitude is not as good as it can be.  Being part of LIFT Ireland (Leading Ireland’s Future Together) is helping me take more ownership of my actions and behaviour and ‘own’ my own leadership capability.  By consciously focusing on Positive Attitude and the seven other LIFT Leadership Themes, I am taking the time to examine how I can improve and have a more positive impact on those around me as well as on myself.

Positive Attitude is one of LIFT’s eight leadership values. These values were identified through national and independently-run surveys. To read about the LIFT values click below.

LIFT Leadership Values