2013: Are You an Eeyore or a Tigger? (Attitude Counts)

I happen to live in the country music capital of the world, Nashville, says business and leadership blogger Dan Oswald. So at least a couple of country stations have been programmed into my radio, This morning on my drive to the office, I was listening to one of the stations when a Travis Tritt song titled “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” came on. The song made me think about the importance of attitude.

Oswald, CEO of BLR, offered his thoughts on attitude (and Eeyore and Tigger) in a recent edition of The Oswald Letter.

The chorus of Tritt’s song, which he recorded more than a decade ago, goes like this:

And it’s a great day to be alive
I know the sun’s still shinin’ when I close my eyes
There’s some hard times in the neighborhood
But why can’t every day be just this good?

The chorus struck me. There certainly are some hard times for many right now. The Northeast was hit by a devastating storm. Too many people can’t find work. Gas prices are frighteningly high. But we still live in the greatest country on earth. Sure, things get difficult at times, but it’s all about how you approach them. Someone once said, “Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.” It’s your job to find it!

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That’s the wonderful thing—you can choose your attitude. You’re in complete control of it. Charles Swindoll said, “The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past … we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our attitudes.”

And attitude at work is critical. Are you a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” type of person? Are you the one who sees a problem in every difficult situation or an opportunity? Are you an Eeyore or a Tigger?

That last reference is to a couple of characters from the classic children’s series Winnie the Pooh. Eeyore is the gloomy donkey who is always quite pessimistic and can find the negative in any situation. Tigger is the exact opposite. He’s described this way: “He is cheerful, outgoing, competitive in a friendly way, and has complete confidence in himself.”

I must admit that I have described more than one colleague, at one time or another, as an Eeyore. And let me tell you I’d much rather be around a Tigger than an Eeyore. Tigger’s passion and energy are contagious. Playwright Tom Stoppard said, “A healthy attitude is contagious, but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”

Maybe you’re skeptical about the importance of attitude in success. How about some data to help make the case? Research by LeadershipIQ tracked 20,000 new hires. Of those hires, 46% failed within 18 months. Why? Eighty-nine percent of the time it was because of attitude, while lack of skill accounted for only 11%. What were the “attitude” issues cited in the failed hires? Reasons included lack of coachability, low emotional intelligence, lack of motivation, and temperament.

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Attitude will make a big difference in the outcomes you achieve. Great leaders recognize the importance of attitude in success. Thomas Jefferson did. He said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Look for people with the right attitude to add to your team.

Finally, if you’re going to be a successful leader, you need to take an honest assessment of your own attitude. Then think about Eeyore for a minute. Who wants to follow Eeyore anywhere? What kind of compelling case could he make for getting people to buy into his vision? I can hear Eeyore trying to rally the troops, saying, “I’m sure it’s not really going to work out, but I don’t know what else to try, so we’re going to do this. I hope it’s not a complete disaster, but I certainly can’t make you any promises because I’m sure it won’t work out.”

Be more like Tigger―cheerful, outgoing, competitive, and completely confident. Make sure your attitude allows you to succeed!

  • Anonymous

    When was the last time you actually read “Winnie the Pooh”? Eeyore was not the most inspirational leader, but Tigger’s misplaced confidence in his abilities created havoc. Neither is completely adequate as a role model and while Tigger might be more fun to be around, I might think twice about following him without considering some of Eeyore’s legitimate concerns.
    And about “attitude”–how do you change it and how do you know it has changed? People talk a lot about having a “good” attitude or changing a “bad” one when they really mean behavior. None of the “attitude” issues cited are measurable; behaviors are. What might have happened if instead of relying on “attitude”, which may or may not exist in someone’s head, leaders focused on the behaviors that demonstrate lack of coachability, low emotional intelligence, lack of motivation, and temperament and coached employees in behaviors that demonstrate a proper response to coaching; emotional intelligence; motivation; and “the proper attitude”. You might not change what is going on in someone’s head and does that really matter if you get the desired behaviors?


  • Anonymous

    What a great article! I’ve always loved the song, too. It is “a great day to be alive!”

  • Anonymous

    I really love this article. I make a conscious decision to be like this everyday. If a distraction comes along, I always remember that I can start my day over at any time I choose.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Mr. Steve Bruce,

    Your article comes in the form of a Divine Intervention at this moment in my life, as I was waging a war within me…..What is wrong with my attiude?

    I’m definitely a tigger…..happy, confident, outgoing and love competing in a healthy way……People term it as being insensitive, arrogance and lacking maturity.

    Your article has enabled me to realize that I’ve been definitely trivializing an issue which should not bother me because of an Eelore around me……..People can change…..provided they change their attiude by just dropping from an altiude!

    I shall sharpen my EQ and definitely work on my temperament. Thanks for a thought provoking article…..U have made my day …… n help me change my way!

    Looking forward to reading more such thought enlightening articles

    Thank You


  • Anonymous

    it is really a nice article

  • Anonymous

    cb has hit the nail right on the head; attitude change can be a goal, but you must focus on the behaviors. Eeyore and Tigger combined might be a great employee, depending on the final resulting behaviors; Eeyore sees the potential problems, and Tigger seizes the opportunity

  • Anonymous

    Tigger and Eeyore were compared in “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

    If you’re not familiar, he gave this presentation after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and a prognosis of only months to live.

  • Anonymous

    “Attitude gets you Altitude!,” is my version of what the article refers to. And, here’s an illustration for anyone trying to sell a product or a service: “It’s Christmas morning (or his/her birthday), and your child has just received their longed for present. Do not, as they are opening the gift, tell them it will break, that it’s not very good and not exactly what they wanted. You’re just asking for “buyer’s remorse.”
    In the selling process you should have assured them of the products benefits and limitations, warranties and vulnerabilities (if something goes amiss, we’ll be there to make it right). After the contract is signed, the selling process continues with positive affirmations, not warnings about inevitable problems. It’s all about your attitude, and how you transplant your (good) attitude to the customer. The customer wants assurance they have made the right decision. Let them know they have. Be positive.

  • Anonymous

    Good, thought provoking article on the attitude.i would like to have some advices on developing positive attitude

  • Anonymous

    While I certainly appreciate the option of choosing either Tigger or Eeyore (and don’t we all wish life were so simple), I have found that a “little of both” can be just the right formula. Yes, even mixing it up a bit when assembling a group of people to complete a project – some Tiggers; some Eeyors; some “something else”…not too much over-confidence but not too much negativism. Differences can become strengths – like the pull of positive to negative – the end result can be a solidly connected outcome – oh, if only life were so simple…

  • Anonymous