The other day, the marketing guru Seth Godin wrote something in his blog that stopped me:
“Attitudes are skills.”
Think about that. If attitudes are skills, then they can be learned, practiced, improved on. I suppose one could even aspire to become an “attitude craftsmen”—a person who cultivates excellent attitudes toward self, success, failure, other people (including ornery ones), difficulties, onerous circumstances and life in general.
They say you can’t do much to improve your IQ. But what about your AQ, your Attitude Quotient? Isn’t that eminently improvable?
And when you think about it, your Attitude Quotient probably has a more profound impact on your life, career, relationships and basic happiness than your IQ!
Suppose I wanted to develop a higher AQ, where would I start? Let’s ask some poets.
German poet Rainer Rilke talks about our attitude toward circumstances (a good thing to think about in this time of Covid):
“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.”
Translation: changing your attitude to a bad situation just might help you discover the treasure buried right under your feet.
Robert Frost makes a similar point:
“Always fall in with what you’re asked to accept…My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever’s going. Not against: with.”
Translation: work with what you’ve got, what you’re facing, what you’re dealing with. There’s no future in complaining, resenting or fighting against it.
The ability to stand back and shift our attitude is a kind of poetry that can enhance the rhyme and reason of our daily experience.
So even if you can’t write a poem, cultivating your AQ makes you a poet of everyday life.