Last Saturday was spring commencement at Southern Polytechnic State University. A record 490 students received degrees, and the gym was packed for both ceremonies. The speaker was David Connell, the president and CEO of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and former region executive for Georgia Power’s Metro West Region. David had a great message about attitude – how a positive attitude is important for health, for work, and for relationships. Abundant research has demonstrated that people with positive attitudes are healthier than those without this perspective. As a leader in the utility industry, he noted that he had never hired or promoted an employee with a bad attitude. And the connection between a positive attitude and healthy relationships with other people — both at home and at work — is obvious. David offered three pieces of advice for maintaining a positive attitude: compartmentalize the negative stuff, participate in random acts of kindness, and find an “attitude mentor” to keep on track.
His comments reminded me of a recent conversation with a woman who is a wise and experienced parent. In explaining how she helped her children and grandchildren learn to be good people and good citizens, she emphasized the importance of attitude. In private, she reminds them directly about this. In public, her code is simply “AC” – “attitude check.”
Effective leaders have positive attitudes. Steven Covey includes having a “win-win attitude” among the habits of highly effective people. We can probably all use the reminder to check our attitudes and be sure that we exemplify the attitudes we want to see in the people around us. I hope the 2012 graduates will remember the message in this particular commencement speech.