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Attitude as the starting point

Let’s do a reflection exercise. When you get up in the morning, apart from going to the bathroom and looking at your mobile, what else do you do? How do you feel when you get up? You may be sleepy, you may be quiet or you may get up with lots of energy, but how you get out of bed is sure to condition your day. Honestly, how many times have you thought that the universe is plotting against you, that all the traffic lights turn red when they see you coming or that the whole world has conspired to ensure you have a terrible day? I hope that deep down you don’t believe any of that!

The good news is that putting a bad day right usually just depends on you. You obviously don’t control the traffic lights around the city, but you can ensure that finding them red doesn’t affect you. And how can this be done? With attitude, how else? Victor Küppers never tires of repeating this at all his talks. A doctor in Humanities, trainer and speaker, he attended the 2015 Annual Convention in Toledo and we have fond memories of him. Victor Küppers popularised his particular equation for the value of people: V = (K + S) x A, where V stands for value, K for knowledge, S for skills and A for attitude. Everything adds up in this equation, except for attitude, which multiplies. How right it is! It’s evident that skills and experience are really, really important but, in the words of Victor Küppers himself, “What you know and the experience you have don’t make you great, it’s your way of being. All fantastic people have a fantastic way of being”.

Teaching and attitude

Attitude is always important, whatever you devote your time to, but it’s even more so in the world of teaching, where you can become a mirror for many people. The figure of the teacher may constitute a source of inspiration for our children (or quite the opposite) but, in any event, they can become an example to emulate, whether it be good or bad.

As a teacher, I can tell you that I feel a great sense of responsibility when I stand in front of a class, sometimes not so much in terms of the content I have to teach, but rather everything that isn’t written in the teaching guides. Starting with personal hygiene and the way we dress, even our body and verbal language, every little detail is important, as it can leave a mark. All our acts can be imitated and we have to be consistent in what we practise and what we preach; attitude obviously forms part of the package and plays a very important role. If, for example, we asked the students what they like about their teachers, I’m sure that 90% of their answers would refer to their attitude: pleasant, cheerful, passionate, empathetic, friendly, understanding, fair, etc. The attitude is always the starting point.

I remember a talk given by the trainer and speaker Emilio Duró, during which he said that companies should recruit people by watching how they go up the stairs, as those who leap up them or do so with energy display a very different attitude from those who drag their feet up them. Teachers with a positive attitude can cause great changes in their students, because children and young people are malleable and willing to feed off the environment.

Teachers may be eminences in their subject but, if they lack attitude, it will be difficult for them to convey all their knowledge. Similarly, there are also teachers who may have less knowledge of a specific subject but, in addition to getting their students to learn, they enable them to grow as people.

The attitude with which you face your daily tasks will mark your career and personal life and it will also be infectious. There’s a very funny video featuring some primary school students who decide how they’ll start the day: by hugging their teacher, dancing or doing high fives. Watch it and look at the teacher, her attitude, her smile, her absolute disposition. These are the teachers who’ll mark our children.

What about you, how do you want to start the day? By dancing?

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