Many people wrongly assume that if they have the skills required to do the job, their attitude makes little or no difference. I look at someone with great ability and a bad attitude the same way I look at a Ferrari without any gas; it may look great and be full of potential, but without gas, it is not going anywhere. Attitude is what fuels peak performance in all fields.
The skills you possess, whether it is athletic ability, a medical degree, or a Ph.D., are just your ticket into the arena. What keeps you in the arena and determines how successful you will ultimately become in that arena is your productivity, and that is determined by your attitude.
The NFL Draft starts today and although the NFL has gotten much better at evaluating more than just the physical side of players, there is still a lot of room for improvement. I say this because when I ask a coach or other team representative about a player, the first thing out of their mouth is still always about their physical ability. For example, if it is a quarterback they will say something like “he can make all the throws.” My first thought is, that tells me nothing about his likelihood of success and is near the minimum of my expectations. I want a guy who won’t be satisfied with anything less than a championship.
In the 1980’s Delta airlines had one of the worst slogans ever in my humble opinion: “Delta gets you there.” That expressed an attitude of “We just do the minimum.” Would Delta be in business if they didn’t get you there? That’s like Nike having the slogan ‘We have shoes you can wear.’ Instead Nike went with “Just Do It” and that attitude of accomplishing things inspired the company to greater heights.
There’s a saying most football coaches know that illustrates the importance of attitude: “He looks like Tarzan, but plays like Jane.” Many athletes look imposing getting off the bus, but have poor attitudes that keep them from fulfilling their potential. The same is true of people who look good on paper. I always say ‘Credentials do not produce things, people and their actions do.’
I want to work with people who have their greatest accomplishments in their future, not their past. I don’t want people who can show me what they have done, I want people who can’t wait to show me (and the world) what they can do.
Who do you think will be more successful, the person who when approached with an idea immediately lists all the reasons it won’t work, or the person who starts suggesting ways to make it happen? Nearly everything that makes our lives easier are things that at first glance people said would never be possible.
A bad attitude can poison the entire well, so don’t fall for impressive credentials or striking physical stature alone. Take the person with desire over credentials or physical stature every-time. If you work at it you may even find the rarest of individuals, those who have desire along with credentials and physical prowess as well.