Attitude Journal 2011-0805 Monday

Attitude Journal 2011-0805 Monday

I’m trying to figure out what “attitude” is, and how it affects my daily work.

Why Attitude?

The overall goal is to become, to paraphrase from Cowboy Bebop, “like water, able to take any form, flowing one instant and striking hard the next”. My theory is that if I can develop awareness of my own attitude, then I can better do…well, I’m hopeful it means I’ll do MORE, with less hesitation. The larger issue is that of self-motivation on projects that serve my own interests. For whatever reason I find this difficult to do, as I tend to be motivated by two things:

  • The innate interestingness of the problem to me
  • The empathy/compassion I have toward the people involved

Everything else gets fuzzy. Many of the tasks I need to complete involve doing uninteresting (to me) things. My reach exceeds my grasp, also.

Today’s Attitude

Today I feel tired. I slept-in to noon. I felt “depressed”: low energy, thoughts not staying still, a feeling that I was not making progress and I have nothing to show for it. I caught a glimmer of a desire for status, having made it. This was surprising to me, because I thought I was status-immune, but we’d been talking about this in The Wave with Colleen™ and I was more attuned to it. Social status I’m less desirous of, but I wonder if that’s also not true. It probably IS true. Maybe what is guiding this desire for status is HOW I want to do it.

FEELINGS: Anyway, I am feeling tired, listless, and unfocused. It’s 1PM, so I am also demoralized at having lost a good chunk of the day. When I think of all the things I need to do on my personal projects, then I get further depressed.

ATTITUDE: What is my perspective on the feelings I’m feeling? Attitude, it occurs to me, is a kind of external imposition of something over the base feelings. I would describe my attitude right now as non-existent. There is no moderator or governor of my feelings. As a feeling-motivated person, this leads to a lack to initiate motion.

If I were to externalize myself right now, I would say, “Look at the stuff you have on your plate. I know there’s a lot of stuff, but there are really only 4 big ideas. You can put that on a piece of paper and look at them. So pick one of the ideas and see if you can move the ball forward for 15 minutes.” Let’s call this attitude DELIBERATE SEEING and MOTION IN THE SMALL IS GOOD ENOUGH.

There is a HUGE feeling also that I want to see my map of possibility, so I know where my effort is converting it into results. I draw them from time to time. I think it gives me the sense of CERTAINTY that I seem to crave. So how do I generate that? Maybe it is CERTAINTY IN THE SMALL IS GOOD ENOUGH. How much certainty is necessary for 15 minutes of action?


I don’t have one, but if it’s only four things they would be as follows, with the new addition that I really spend a lot of time researching:

  1. Products – Learning how to make and sell my own stuff
  2. Clients – Service existing client relationships
  3. Website – Making the website better and better, feeding 1 and 2
  4. Community – Being part of the local community, sharing processes and dreams
  5. Exploration – Seeing where my curiosity takes me (this is a huge part of me)

WEBSITE is looming large in my mind, and that breaks down into:

  • Better navigation
  • More informational pages, reorganized
  • More content
  • Improved appearance

SOFTWARE is also looming large, and this is ultimately part of PRODUCTS:

  • Printed Products
  • E Products
  • Marketplace on the Website
  • Software Development for iOS and HTML5

And it occurs to me that EXPLORATION is what underlies a lot of my day, and it’s a double-edge sword. On the one hand, it’s a distraction. On the other hand, it shows me what is possible and I learn things that inevitably help me in the work I do. Particularly, finding novel ways to do thing, or applying relevant technologies and insights in non-obvious ways. It’s a value-add. However, when I get sucked into rabbit hole vortexes of DESIRE rather than need, then the use of energy is somewhat less valuable in the long run. A distraction. But maybe one that is impossible to avoid.

Now the hard part is diving down one more level. That’s where it gets messy, and I wish I had the SOFTWARE to help me manage it.

My desire is really to know what to focus on, and it feels impossible to decide. So, in the interest of DELIBERATE SEEING let me look right at how I should make this decision:

  • TIME TO MONEY – Self-sufficiency is my goal. How quickly can I pull the supply chain together?
  • MAINTAINING CONTINUITY OF PRODUCT PRODUCTION – This includes various PCEO forms and variations. I don’t post them enough
  • BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT – I had the insight a few days ago that I need to think more like an actual business (not a new insight, but one that recurs)
  • CONSOLIDATION of PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE – Although I don’t conform to any particular niche, I can still make my own niche highly professional AND visible.
  • BENEFIT IN THE SHORT, MEDIUM, LONG TERM – When a task can generate more than one benefit, that’s great. Learning to write software, for example, has multiple benefits.
  • CLOSENESS TO THE ARTERY OF THE GOAL STREAM – By this, I mean something that is really related to what I want.

So what is it that I want? Status and financial independence, to put it crassly. Crass is at least clear. As I said above, status for me would be self-made and innovative original products that I have successfully brought to market. Which suggest three more decision-makers:

  • SYSTEMATIC SELF-MAKING – is the task going to help me be more independent in any way
  • PRODUCT – is the task related to actually making that innovative product? I leave out “original” because that isn’t really as important as the making. Innovative, though, should be part of it.
  • MARKET – is the task actually getting the product, or myself, more in the realm of transaction?

As I was eating lunch (providing much needed brain de-fogging), I noted that I have not, as yet, really defined Attitude. I am noticing though that I’m feeling better and slightly in more control. If I can find CERTAINTY and ATTITUDE in the next 15 minutes, I’ll feel pretty good. Ooo, I felt a surge of excitement at that thought.

I also just made a mini diagram to remind myself of the concepts I’m writing here.


As my mood lifts, I feel a sense of optimism. Is that attitude? No, not quite. Attitude, in the way I want to have it, is something that is not motivated by feeling. It generates feeling, possibility, and opportunity all at the same time. It also carries one through to completion.

So what are the feelings that a good attitude generates?

  • A feeling of conviction in the face of adversity
  • Courage
  • Lightness of being, zippiness
  • Grinning
  • Smiles and Wonderment
  • Appreciation
  • Thrill of Challenge
  • Annoying high levels of optimism

That last one is interesting to me, maybe because it’s some resistance inside me that wants to disempower the goody-goodies and feel above simple optimism, which can feel stupid and naive. I can’t think of a reason why, other than it’s “cool” to be unimpressed by other people’s optimism. It’s safe, using intelligence and experience as a cloak for being cowardly. I’d rather be on the side of optimism and empowerment. Yeah!

What goes hand-in-hand with the good attitude feelings is competence, of course. Competence brings with it other feelings:

  • Decisiveness in execution
  • Fearlessness of engaging new material
  • Confidence in one’s ability to perform
  • Humility in one’s limitation
  • The desire for mastery
  • Self esteem based in the knowledge of having capability

So how do I turn this set of associated feelings into an attitude? For the moment, I’m going to assume that an attitude is a faith in principles based on certainty. The certainty I have is that:

  • The right attitude leads to a better life not just for me, but for my friends and peers
  • The right attitude is a creative, empowering one
  • The right attitude provides a moral compass
  • The right attitude is pragmatic, never losing sight of what is necessary
  • The right attitude knows that taking a risk brings new opportunities
  • The right attitude recognizes the natural ups and downs of life, and abides through them
  • The right attitude never destroys or disempowers others
  • The right attitude doesn’t lose sight of what is necessary to live

Less certain, because these might actually be moral codes rather than part of an attitude:

  • The right attitude is generous and accepting
  • The right attitude is compassionate and just

Still, I haven’t defined what that attitude IS…I think it would be a statement of beliefs and principles, backed up by daily reflection and ritual. I’d add it to my morning routine.

So what are some QUALITIES of attitudes? What are adjectives used to describe them?

  • attitudes can be “gung-ho” – eager and willing to do something
  • attitudes can be “positive” and “negative” – many variations of this
  • attitudes can be “overbearing” – a projection of power or judgement over someone else, resulting in intimidation
  • attitudes can be “tolerant” – putting up with beliefs that conflict with one’s own.

I feel this isn’t going anywhere, so I just looked up the word, in a psychological context, on Wikipedia. It says (emphasis mine):

Attitudes are judgments. They develop on the ABC model (affect, behavior, and cognition). The affective response is an emotional response that expresses an individual’s degree of preference for an entity. The behavioral intention is a verbal indication or typical behavioral tendency of an individual. The cognitive response is a cognitive evaluation of the entity that constitutes an individual’s beliefs about the object. Most attitudes are the result of either direct experience or observational learning from the environment.

So there’s “emotion”, “action”, and “belief”, all performed in the context of an evaluation toward some subject. And unlike personality, attitudes can be changed. So I guess that’s what I’m trying to do here…change my attitudes.

So here’s another principle that I think works:

  • the right attitude embraces life as a series of experiments and experiences, neither good or bad
  • the right attitude learns from all experiments and experiences
  • the right attitude channels this experience into understanding, mastery of the self, and empathy for others
  • the right attitude actively builds mastery from experience in tangible means

And this one just popped into my head:

  • the right attitude knows that movement leads to change
  • the right attitude knows that change can be harnessed
  • the right attitude chooses change that is beneficial, non-harmful, and tangible
  • the right attitude therefore focuses on what can be tangible first, and makes the appropriate choices

My attitude right now? Questioning and questing for something to hang my beliefs on, which might get back to tangible goals. But I don’t believe that “being self sufficient” is a real personal goal. But then again, maybe it is what will allow me to find the real goal. That might have to do for now.

So I am going to expand my STATUS GOAL to a second one: that of creating the professional practice for my design business. So professional you can cut yourself on it, but also so safe that you want to use it all the time.


  1. CR 11 years ago

    A very similar quote to the Cowboy Bebop one:

    “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee

    I used to use that to argue that Spike was Bruce Lee. ^-^

    If you haven’t looked at the documentaries of Bruce Lee, I’d recommend you to add those to your research list. The special edition of Enter the Dragon has two of what are considered the better ones as special features.

    In my mind Bruce Lee always had that conviction and attitude to find and better himself. I’ve yet to figure out that magical formula myself, but perhaps seeing in someone else can help you in your journey to find it.