I’m not about to enter into the Nature vs Nurture debate, other than to say that a caring mother, with a solid sense of responsibility and a work ethic to match, raised me and contributed to the formation of my character.

The chasm of a 40-year generation gap and the exuberance and irresponsibility of youth often prevented me from perceiving or fully appreciating the depth of her character, the power of her example and the wisdom of her counsel in a simple maxim, forged in the crucible of her life’s furnace; “Be calm Son. You can do it. ”.

To say that I was impatient and bad-tempered when things didn’t go as I wished was an understatement.  In situations, when impatience, frustration and anger were driving me speedily to breaking point, the last thing I needed was to hear her words.

I recall gritting my teeth and dismissively regarding her advice as a social nicety, offering little or no practical assistance whatsoever to solving the problem; Kinda like “Kissing it better”. She, however, patiently persisted, as many mothers did and sowed a seed which would have a significant influence upon my life and career.

What I didn’t realize then was that the actual problem was in my mind and not the difficulty I was experiencing accomplishing the task. My ageing mother could see what I couldn’t… or wouldn’t- I had an attitude.

In the 60’s EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, hadn’t yet become a buzzword and neither we teenagers, nor our parents, had the faintest idea that such even existed! Our parents however had another word for it, experience.

I became more aware of the ineffectiveness of anger and of the positive power of calmness when dealing with life’s challenges. I came to appreciate that her advice was profoundly simple and simply profound.

Twenty years into the future, business caught up with parenthood and discovered the mantra; “Hire for ATTITUDE and train for skills.”

Mark Murphy, the author Hiring for Attitude and the CEO of the company, Leadership IQ, stated in an interview by Forbes magazine that research into 20,000 new hires revealed that 46 % failed within their first 18 months! 89% of those failures did so for attitudinal reasons and only 11% for a lack of skill. Among their prominent attitudinal deficiencies were; a lack of teach-ability; inability to cope with failure and to assimilate feedback; a temperament reflecting low levels of emotional intelligence and a lack of motivation.

You can look forward to even greater success in your career by developing the right attitude… You may even want to ask your Mom.

  By Basil Smith

Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.
                                                                                                                                             – William James

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