Monday, May 17, 2010

Do you have a Why Attitude?

In the Power of CARE, I talk about the importance of having the right attitude.  It's not just about having a positive attitude, although that is important.  Beyond positivity, it is also key that one have an attitude of continuous learning and teachability -- what I call having a Why Attitude™.

So what is a Why Attitude™?  There is a cliche that says, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."  In part, to care about someone means you have put forth the effort to understand her. To understand his why.   And once you understand the why of things and of people, you have the ability to be more effective and innovative.  To be more successful.   Think about teachers.  The most effective ones know that each student learns differently.  When she understands how each particular student learns, she has the ability to individualize her teaching to that student's style of learning.  How a student learns is impacted by a great many things...their socio-economic status, whether English is their first language, a learning disability, their level of interest in the subject matter, physical variables like near-sighetedness of hearing problems, etc. etc.  These all get to the why of the how...and when you understand the why, you can be a better teacher. 

Think about your relationships with your significant others.  How much more effective are you when you understand their thought processes and why it is they feel or do the things they feel or do?  As Stephen Covey teaches in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, when we "seek first to understand and then to be understood", we have the ability to be more effective in our communication and in our relationships.  Your spouse may do something that drives you completely bananas, yet when you discover it stems from his childhood and "that's the way his family always did it" your attitude may change.  You may be able to live with the behavior because you understand "where he is coming from" or you may be better able to communicate about your feelings and his because now you understand the why behind the behavior.

In our society --  whether it is in your business or personal world --  knowing the how and the what only get you so far.  Those who are truly successful, understand the why.   I remember a quote -- I'm paraphrasing -- that said, "People who know the what and how will always have a job, but people who know the why will be their more successful employers."   When you have a Why Attitude™ you are continually seeking to understand, to get to the heart of the "why" of something or someone.

I came across this Ted Talk from Simon Sinek.  He doesn't call it the Why Attitude™ of course, but I was so intrigued by the similarities of much of what he said and what I have learned and taught in The Power of CARE. 

Please enjoy this wonderful lesson about the power of why.

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