I recently spent a week with about 25,000 teens at a national youth gathering. You may have assumed that this posting on attitude would be about stereotypical negative teen attitudes. Instead, I’d like to share my observation of how positive attitudes that week were contagious.
Everyone who attended the national youth gathering had to walk miles each day in high heat and humidity, wait in long lines, share hotel rooms with others, and sleep very little. There were definitely many reasons to have a negative attitude (and all of us were tired and grumpy at some point during the week). However, what impressed me was how quickly positive attitudes changed everything.
These teens went around saying “Hey” to other groups of teens and giving one another high-fives. They burst into spontaneous song and dance, clapping and laughing. When someone started to complain or feel sorry for themselves, another person distracted them or got them to laugh. At one point, we had fun turning complaints into “love” statements, such as, “I love how much my feet hurt”, or “I just love sweating and standing in line”. We were soon laughing and back in positive moods.
Vistage speaker Boaz Rauchwerger often says, “Fake it till you make it!”, and these 14-18 year olds showed me how effective that approach can be. A positive attitude can be contagious. As a leader, you can overcome the negative attitudes in your company with a little effort – even if you have to fake it till you make it!