A short time ago, I received an email from Bob Clary of Webucator. He told me that Webucator is, “…an online learning company… all about teaching essential skills and finding ways to help people improve themselves and become more successful.” And he asked me to “..write an article to post on your blog about what you consider to be a valuable, marketable skill as part of our “Most Marketable Skill” Campaign in honor of the class of 2014…What is it that you think is essential for success? We want to read about the skill that you personally feel is the most important, how you acquired or plan to acquire the skill, and why it’s so indispensable for people going into the workforce.” Here is my reply.
I grew up in a household of inspirational appliances. My dad, a Tony Robbins book and label maker in hand, branded most of our house with affirmations. Despite a particularly loquacious clock radio and toaster oven, I especially remember what our basement fridge had to say: Attitude is everything.
As a kid, I thought the icebox giving me permission to roll my eyes at my mother and speak all the smartassery I kept to myself. (There were a few years there that my gearshift jammed in snarky.) But in the process of growing up, and especially in becoming a university graduate and entering the workforce, I’ve begun to really understand what that phrase means and why it has always stuck with me.
Whilst earning my diploma, I was often stressed, exhausted, obsessive, and overly caffeinated. I cared a lot about my education, about getting the A, about graduating with honors. Then, add in fights with roommates, tearful break-ups, friends who decided to see Hunger Games without me, and it’s easy to understand why my brain often felt like a too-small bowl for a many-emotion salad.
Now that I’m out of school, I have many similar burdens weighing on me, except instead of grades it’s my paycheck and future security that’s at play. I am as ambitious and hardworking as ever in my quest to be a working writer, often craning over my computer for most of the day. I can be demoralized by rejections from literary journals, frustrated by metaphors that just won’t make sense, and made jealous by other writers’ successes. Plus, though they’re less melodramatic than they were, I still find myself in delicate and taxing interpersonal situations.
My point is: the many-emotion salad is still tossing about in my mind! The only difference is now, I’ve (mostly) learned how to deal with it. The way to cope was with me all along—stuck onto my uncommonly wise basement fridge. Attitude is everything.
Your attitude is everything in how you overcome a bad day, week or even year. When shit hits the fan, it’s common to get down on yourself and your life. But, getting out of that space is essential to being productive again, and finding success in the future. In times like these, it is important to take a break and do something that helps center you again. I find that writing my feelings down in a journal helps expel them from my mind. I also benefit from meditation, naps, bike rides, baking cookies, and playing piano. Or if it’s really bad, I’ll plan a vacation. Try different things and find what it is that helps you feel happier and ready to work again.
Yes, class of 2014, I just became the umpteenth person to tell you to “turn that frown upside down.” Like it or not, I believe this is your most marketable skill: your own power to change how you feel, regardless of external circumstances. This ability helps you be productive and successful despite a world full of self-involved assholes, seemingly insurmountable obstacles and ridiculous expectations. Having a positive attitude gives you a big enough bowl for all that messy life salad. It creates space for more sweet cherry tomatoes. It makes whatever’s in front of you clearer and easier to digest. Most importantly, it shines a light on what truly matters: feeling grateful for the life that fills your bowl.
For more about this campaign go to www.webucator.com or follow @webucator on Twitter.