Attitude is about minds.
The key components are:
- The qualities of the mind itself,
- The organizational space in which the mind exists, and
- The principles and practices which enable the mind to relate to the organizational space.
Attitude literally refers to the position of an object in space relative to some frame of reference; a human body in a traditional ballet pose, an aircraft in relation to the horizon, or a space craft in relation to it's direction of motion.
The metaphorical application to people' minds as objects- that-can-be-oriented requires that we establish the metaphorical space in which they exist and the metaphorical frame of reference by which we judge their orientation in that space (the attitude.)
An Example of Attitude
The question of the key components of attitude was posed on Yahoo! Answers in the category of Marketing & Sales, so let's think about a salesman.
I have even been one on occasion in my life.
The salesman has certain qualities of mind: he has a personality (hopefully), a disposition, a lifetime of experiences, and a variety of other things that we would all expect to contribute to making up the contents of his mind.
Let's just think of it all as his mental furniture.
All these things in the salesman's mind are arranged in some particular way that makes him a unique individual.
There are some qualities about his arrangement of mental furniture that affects how he interacts with the world and other people.
What most people talk about when they talk about attitude is the arrangement of their mental furniture.
But our salesman is not existing in an empty void.
He exists in a context from which he has acquired all of his mental furniture.
His biology created the mental rooms he identifies with as himself through his genetic inheritance.
His biology determined some basic parameters for all the other furniture because if the front door is small then everything that comes through it has to be small in order to fit.
The rooms are attached into a unit that he knows as his "self."
The most useful way to think about the self is as a vessel or a vehicle, like a boat or a car.
This self exists within a larger context, too.
Our salesman belongs to an organization that expects him to sell things.
The title of his job is a key determinant of how he will know how to behave.
The company will tell stories that give the salesman a variety of examples of how people called salesmen are supposed to behave.
As long as he is consistent in his desire to be a salesman, he will adjust his behavior to do what he understands a salesman is supposed to do.
There are particular principles and practices that are associated to the job title.
The space in which he exists has far more than one dimension.
He is also an employee, a citizen, a man, and a vast number of other things, too.
In this sense the organizational space is not just the company he is employed by, but the whole set of organizations in which he is embedded, family, company, county, nation, etc.
But even taking only the company context his role will have a potentially very high number of dimensions.
But for simplicity let's just think of our salesman as a boat on the company ocean.
The boat is sailing around and doing what he thinks he is supposed to do.
But, as we all know, people do not just do what they are supposed to do for the company, they have a variety of other needs, wants, and desires that distract them from what the company wants them to do.
So the company is not just a glassy pond, it is an ocean with waves and currents that influence the boats.
If the salesman/boat is not careful he can get swamped.
Sometimes the waves will get intense and if the saleman has not battened down the hatches and kept everything in ship shape, then his furniture might get tossed around.
The point here is that you have to attend to not only the mental furniture in your boat/mind, but also to the trim of your boat/mind and where you sail your boat/mind.
If you try to sail the seven seas then you can expect some rough seas on occasion. If you stick to a small lake then you shouldn't expect to get very far.
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