“It’s your attitude towards the people with whom you come in contact, which determines their attitude towards you.” (Earl Nightingale)
I came across this quote recently and it reminded me of a discussion I overheard by a man who was complaining about his office employees and what a negative place it was for him to work. He went on to his companion about how his employees kept coming to him with their problems, such that it felt constantly draining on him.
After hearing a bit more of his rant before they left, it struck me, on reflection, that there was a good reason why he was experiencing this work turmoil. It had to do with his own attitude. Now, it is not often that anyone likes to admit when it is they who are the cause of a problem. We mostly look to attach blame to someone else when things go wrong. However, when it is a situation that we have been dealing with for some time, it is always a sign to look within ourselves.
From the conversation it became clear that this man’s position as head of his company imparted a sense of superiority in his thinking. Regardless of our position however, whether you are the PM or unemployed, young or old, rich or poor, we are all equals as human beings. We each have unique gifts, talents, wisdom and experience that is shared by no one else. One person’s weakness can be another’s strength, and vice versa. When we believe and act like we are better than others, and only we have the answers, then we will find ourselves surrounded by those who are unmotivated, don’t have answers, and will want to ‘take’ them from us In other words, since we’ve ‘taken’ from them (that is, deprived them of respect, a sense of self-worth, self-ability etc), they are living up to our expectations.
Further, since relationships mirror our attitudes, as a mirror, his employees are appearing to this man as he was likely appearing to them: negative, complaining, using them for his own gain.
On the other hand, when we believe we are equal to others, we will naturally give them our respect, time, effort, appreciation and kindness. In turn, we will find ourselves surrounded by those who are likeable, motivated, and eager to work, share and help you. As a mirror of your new attitude, they will reflect your giving nature.
This is a reminder for us all to consider our own thoughts and attitudes when we come in contact with unpleasant situations. Rather than instantly point the blame elsewhere, look within yourself. If your work environment is problematic, what negative mental patterns are you bringing to your workplace? If your family members are angry, stressed or sad, what anger, stress or sadness are you carrying around and thus bringing into the situation?
The good news is that as much as we are contributing to what is wrong in our relationships, we are also the ones who can fix the situation. This is because that power lies within us, through our innate ability to change our own thinking. As summed up beautifully by one Indian philosopher: “It is not others who must change, but you.”