Several things on a team are not contagious. Talent. Experience. Willingness to practice. But you can be sure of one thing: Attitude is catching. When someone on the team is teachable and his humility is rewarded by improvement, others are more likely to display similar characteristics. When a leader is upbeat in the face of discouraging circumstances, others admire that quality and want to be like her.… People have a tendency to adopt the attitudes of those they spend time with – to pick up on their mindset, beliefs, and approaches to challenges.
One of my mentors, Fred Smith, once told me there are two kinds of people in any organization: polluters and purifiers.

Polluters are like smokestacks, belching out dirty smoke all the time. They hate clear skies, and no matter how clear the air is, they can find a way to poison it with gloom. When the people around them “breathe” their toxins, they feel sicker and sicker.

Purifiers, on the other hand, make everything around them better. It doesn’t matter what kind of rotten atmosphere they encounter. They take in the toxic words of polluters in the organization just as everyone else does, but they filter the words before passing them on. What goes in may be gloomy and negative, but when it comes back out, it’s fresh and clear.

When you spend time with others, do they walk away feeling better or worse? Do you clear the air, giving them a fresh perspective and positive encouragement? Or do they go away feeling gloomy? Watch how people respond to you, and you’ll know which kind of person you are.

More on attitude and teamwork can be found in Today Matters, and The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork.

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