Vail Valley Voices: What’s your attitude? |

Vail Valley Voices: What’s your attitude?

John Horan-Kates
Vail, CO, Colorado

At the Vail Leadership Institute, we define attitude as an overall outlook on life, a mind-set or way of thinking that affects everything that you do. It’s your demeanor.

Attitudes can be either positive or negative. The notion of a positive attitude can be looked at from a whole variety of important dimensions, including courage, confidence, passion, enthusiasm, humor, patience, happiness and humility. A positive attitude often includes a simple smile.

While it’s more common to promote a positive attitude, negative aspects can pop-up quite easily — like arrogance, selfishness, complaining, comparing and judging others. These are dimensions of attitude that don’t serve us well or for very long.

For this occasion, let’s look at attitude from a couple of perspectives, enthusiasm and optimism.

Enthusiasm is derived from the Greek word for spirit. When you’re enthusiastic, what spiritual well are you calling upon? Some say it’s a virtue that inspires others to action even while it pushes fear and worry away for others.

Enthusiasm is contagious, but you can’t pass it on unless you’ve got it yourself. George Bernard Shaw once said, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another.”

Greeting people with “I’m feeling great today” rather than just “I’m fine” or “OK” can set the tone for your conversations. Think about how a smile communicates your attitude. And a good belly laugh can really feel great, too.

People just naturally want to be around others who are upbeat. Enthusiasm is an attitude that we can choose.

Some wise person once said that an optimist is a human manifestation of spring. And springtime is when we’re looking forward, we’re planting, we’re starting new projects, we’re upbeat. This kind of positive outlook is a huge asset for anyone — students, teachers, parents and leaders.

Humility is another valuable element of attitude. While some people think of this quality as meekness — some say weakness — it’s more about respect and an unpretentious way of holding yourself.

As opposed to exalting yourself, it’s about having a healthy ego. To many people, humility is born from one’s spiritual perspective and has to do with yielding to a higher power, however you conceive of that. In the end, if you say you’re humble, you’re probably not.

There are lots of ways to work on your attitude. Here are just a few: be courageous and take calculated risks; try being patient; have confidence in your abilities; be open to seeing new possibilities; start your day with quiet reflection; and be grateful for the blessings you’ve received.

Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor, once referred to attitude as “the last of the human freedoms.” Attitude is a choice. Choose well !

How would you describe your attitude?

This column has been written in connection with Exploring Potential, a character development program offered in Eagle County high schools. John Horan-Kates is the president of the Vail Leadership Institute in Edwards. He can be reached at 926-7800 or

Support Local Journalism

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User