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/ Jul 19, 2022

The secret of an attitude

Posted by Jay Hedley

Attitude is the difference that makes the difference in business, high-performance sport, leadership, decision making and life. Attitude is everything. Here are a few famous quotes about attitude:

  • Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Winston Churchill
  • People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. John C Maxwell
  • Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude. Ziggy Ziggler
  • Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. Lou Holtz
  • Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. Albert Einstein

An attitude is defined in the dictionary as “a settled way of thinking or feeling about something”. Our developmental definition is the gestalt structure of consciousness that drives perception and therefore experience. What is a gestalt? A gestalt is an organised whole that is perceived as greater than the sum of its parts. It’s also known in developmental psychology as a meta-structure (a structure above and about a previous structure).


If that all sounds complicated, it’s because it is. To simplify all that, we call it an “attitude”…


Not only is there a meta-structure to an attitude, but something wonderful and mysterious tends to happen with attitudes; that is that they arise from an emergent property that cannot be calculated by adding up all of the parts.  Courage, Success, Presence, Intelligence, etc. are all like that. 


Because of the dynamic interaction of the various elements in the human system, something more than and different from them arises.  In systems language, this an emergent property that arises from the mixtures.  And emergent properties arise in physiological as well as psychological systems.

This makes reverse engineering not only difficult but actually psychologically and physiologically impossible. Although some would disagree, claiming to have the secret sauce to creating the right attitude (a winning attitude for example). Few, if any of these people (authors, keynote speakers, etc.) in our direct experience actually understand or honour the true complexity of an attitude.


That means that despite their efforts, we can’t start with the end and backtrack all of the elements on by one.


An attitude isn’t linear!  So, we have to experiment.  We have to add this quality, mix it up well, and see what happens – each and every time. That’s right, there is no secret sauce – that the secret gestalt of attitude!


So what does this mean in the field of coaching and human development? We need to play around, to find the frame that governs the status quo for the person we are coaching – we have to discover the leverage point in the existing system for each and every client... There’s no fixed answer, because everyone’s unique! That’s the beauty of developmental coaching. There’s thinking, feeling, beliefs, values, cognitive intentions (biases), lines of intelligence, stages of maturity and much more that goes into creating an attitude.


Developmental coaching is all about identifying the difference that makes the difference in attitude. It’s about coaching from one attitude to another, a more resourceful attitude. Sounds simple right? Yet the truth is to learn the skill of holding all that complexity, without an agenda, perhaps itself requires a particular attitude…


Looking for a Developmental Executive Coach?


Want to change your attitude (or learn to lead an attitude in others) in a particular context? Business, sport, relationships, finances, leadership, management, health, fitness, wellbeing etc.?


Engage a TCR developmental coach who has been trained and mentored in how to hold all the complexities involved in an attitude, without an agenda, to facilitate you finding the leverage for change in attitude.


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