The BBC Culture’s Editor Matthew Anderson, a month or two ago tweeted a passage from Mark Forsyth’s book, “The Elements of Eloquence.” The tweet went viral for unique reasons. But principally, the tweet touched on something that many people could relate but may not be able to explain if asked to.
“Things native speakers of English know, but don’t know we know” was his comment to the following text from Forsyth’s book:
“Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out.” True. There are certain things we have come to accept, conventionally, and used them naturally, but may not be able to spell the hows of them.
One such is attitude: to put it rightly, what constitutes the right attitude?A lot of people may be able to identify good and bad attitude or behaviour, but may not be able to define and explain in concrete terms, the rules that generally apply to good or bad attitude.
Businessdictionary.com explains attitude as “predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation.“Attitude influences an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards…”
There is an entry for the word in the Cambridge Dictionary which explains thus: If you say someone has attitude, you mean that they are very confident and want people to notice them. Attitude isthus all about confidence, confidence to get noticed, for good or for the bad reasons? And this often also breeds good or bad behaviour. It is a fact that people can do whatever they want if they set their minds to it. And it can be like attitude is what makes you what you are.
Going by the confidence explanation, it is often said that the most skillful or talented show more attitude of course, because of the confidence that they emit. However, this same confidence tends to breed negative attitude. This where the confluence lies. How do we bridge good attitude and good talent? Is it possible to be talented, skillful, confident, and still show good attitude especially in showbusiness?
Fame10.com once put out a list of ten celebrities who needed a serious attitudeadjustment. On top of the list was Kayne West. There were no reasons given for his placement, but a series of statements he’s made were cited, and they justifiably placed him as that eccentric.
For the other celebrities the reasons included:resentful attitude towards the media and industry people, inconsiderate, rude demeanour, showing up late for appointments, constant trouble with the law, violent behaviour, and elitism.
I am sure the reasons above are not exclusive to celebrities; they are very much human attitude; however, the celebrity life calls for public following, where their lives are virtually in the open, where they are expected to live according to the dictates of the public.
Those who go contrary to what society expects of them are termed deviants, those with bad attitude. But for that footballer, musician, actor, comedian, radio presenter, or even writer, isn’t his trade or craft all about his skill or talent? At what point in time does his or her attitude matter? And should their attitude, whether good or bad, matter if that artiste or celeb is doing what matters most- the craft?
People argue that an artiste is primarily assessed because of his craft or skill. That is the most important factor. So far as he can impress in his craft, attitude should be secondary. For example, people often cited the example of great footballers like Eric Cantona and Maradona who were super skillful, but had attitude problems.
For Cantona, his attitude problems were managed by Manchester United until he retired, regardless of the occasional outburst. But in his home country, the national team handlers placed attitude beyond skill, hence Cantona and his team mate Ginola never had that fine opportunity to represent France to the fullest.In Ghana, Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince Boateng come to mind.
What about your favourite Ghanaian artiste or celeb? What drives you to like them? Is it the talent they possess?The attitude they show?How they carry themselves, or a combination of the two?Which one has a superior advantage to making an artiste? How much talent is okay, and how much attitude is enough, and what should be the right balance?
Should we consider the fact that people even believe attitude in itself is a skill that must be nurtured? Shouldn’t we understand artistes for who they are and what they stand for? And should these artistes hypocritically bend themselves to dictate what a section of society expects of them? Attitude is said to be the mind’s paintbrush; it can colour every situation. By implication, with the right attitude, the right skill can be harnessed into a whole new great skill.