The older I get the more I realize the importance of attitude. I see so many people who have all the attributes that make for success, but for some reason they don't seem to be able to get there. I've witnessed other people with mediocre skills who excel through hard work and sacrifice, propelled by a can-do spirit.
People with positive outlooks see the world as filled with opportunity and the potential of adventure. That's what life really is: an adventurous journey. When we start our trek, none of us really knows how the whole thing is going to turn out. Some have a harder time than others. They're marked right off the bat with hardship, such as the loss of a parent, poverty, poor education and worse. But some who have had a rough start still manage to succeed, perhaps driven by their bad experiences to get somewhere better.
Maybe that is the problem with people who are handed success on a silver platter. They have gone to the right schools, met all the right people, and there is a sense of entitlement that they will get everything they need and want. But what happens is they lack the drive, the empathy for others around them and everything else you need to really succeed in life. They are unprepared for the kind of adversity others know all too well.
I've met others who have the equivalent of an eighth-grade education who have been famously successful because they love life, work hard, know how to deal with people and always have a positive attitude. I've noticed that these individuals usually have the greatest appreciation for their country and everything for which it stands.
Another part of success is humility, a trait lacking in many who have been handed things. Many of these people cannot bring themselves to accept honest and straightforward advice. They feel they are being personally insulted when someone critiques their efforts. Conversely, most top achievers I've met in my career have humility about themselves that makes others want to help them in whatever project they undertake. They also have no qualms about asking for help. They don't pretend to know something when they don't. They'll tell you right off the bat, "I don't know."
Those who achieve things got that way by meeting adversity head-on. Too many people today who have gone to the so-called right schools and enjoyed lifestyles that others haven't sometimes don't have the heart or stamina to stick things out when the going gets tough. Those of us who have had to strive to get to where we are have learned to pick ourselves up from a hit and get back on the field of play. Of course, there are critics who think this kind of blind courage is all senseless and a little too blue-collar, but frankly this kind of attitude is what I look for in my friends and colleagues.
Theodore Roosevelt probably said it best when he penned these words: "It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat." We should all have those words committed to memory and use them every day.
In my opinion, being the most enthusiastic and positive person you know can be a ticket to success. There are doom-and-gloomers all over the place, playing armchair generals. They love to tear others down to their level, which is one of unhappiness and self-loathing. They are what I call losers. Sometimes they come wrapped in attractive packages, but once the action starts their real colors show. They usually run for the sidelines and become spectators instead of getting on the field of play and helping their teammates. They take the easy way out and spend most of their time grousing about how unfair life is and always feel sorry for themselves. They love to take and not give, and, like any disease, they can bring others down with their negative attitudes. Get away from such people. They will take your dreams away.
Finally, for one or two of my friends who are going through some tough times I would like to leave these thoughts with you, by an unknown author:
"If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don't. If you like to win, but think you can't, it's almost a cinch you won't. If you think you will lose, you are lost. For out in the world we find success begins with a fellow's will; it's all in the state of mind. For many a race is lost ere even a step is run, and many a coward fails ere even his work is begun. Think big and your deed will grow, think small and you will fall behind. Think that you can and you will-it's all in the state of mind. If you think you are outclassed, you are. You have got to think high to rise. You have got to be sure of yourself before you win a prize. Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can."
Attitude is the key,
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Lauer is the author of two books, Reach for the Stars and Soar with the Eagles. For more information, go to www.chucklauer.com