Born this Way
When it comes to an employee, attitude and competence are equally important. I impress this on our children when I teach them how to determine a service person's tip: 10 percent on competent service and 10 percent on the attitude with which the service was provided.
Competence is easily recognized. However, attitude is sometimes confused with personality. Some people are naturally more easygoing than others. That is personality. Attitude qualities -- such as working cooperatively within a team and being positive, cheerful, helpful and polite -- are attributes that can be learned. Similarly, character training will build qualities like perseverance and honesty. Both attitude and character are comprised of skills that can be honed -- just like competence.
While competence, character and attitude are all skill sets that can be sharpened, there's an interesting distinction. Character and attitude share a trait that competence lacks.
I've never met someone who practiced to be incompetent. Yet every day, people practice to be miserable and dishonest. Maintaining a foul mood and lying both require decisions to behave in a particular manner. For example, every time you lie, you have to make a decision to not tell the truth.
Complaining can be honed. Lying can be honed. Most of us have probably encountered people who have practiced too diligently on those! Incompetence can't be honed. It's just a gift.
Like competence, attitude and character can be improved through study and practice. Too often, we excuse our poor attitude and faulty character with lame excuses. "That's just the way I am." "I was born this way."
As Ruth and Debbie pointed out, competence may not be the issue in your personal job war. Attitude and character may be the skills that allow you to keep your job while those around you lose theirs. If you're surrounded by bright, competent coworkers, perhaps being indispensable to your employer is as simple as setting yourself apart as the cheerful, honest, hard-working employee who sees a project through to the end.
What steps can you take to enhance your attitude and character this week?