If you want to succeed in life, nothing is more important than a winning attitude. Winners always have a great attitude. You can’t tell if they’re having a bad day. On the other hand, some people seem to be on a mission to make sure that everyone knows everything that’s wrong in their life. Really, who wants to be around that negativity? But a positive attitude makes people want to be with you and follow you. A winning attitude also makes you more productive.
What is attitude?
Attitude can be “a feeling with regard to a person, thing, or situation, or a tendency or orientation of the mind.” Your attitude should not be determined by your circumstances. Rather, it should determine how you respond to them. I’ve studied winners and quitters: people who thrive in hard times and people who don’t. Front-runners do well in good times but tend to fade out when the race gets tough. However, winners consistently handle their circumstances with a positive attitude, no matter what situation they face.
Respond or react
There are two ways to deal with our circumstances: to respond or to react. In medicine, a reaction to a medication is a bad thing. Similarly, reacting to circumstances can cause problems. People who don’t have control over their attitude tend to be reactionary. They get emotional, lose their temper, and say the wrong things. Conversely, people who respond to their circumstances with a winning attitude have self-control. They stay composed under pressure and handle situations appropriately. If you’re wondering how to become more responsive and less reactionary, I have good news for you: it’s possible to transform your attitude into that of a winner.
How to shape a winning attitude
1. Have an attitude of gratitude.
This is one of the very healthiest of human emotions. If you need help with being grateful for what you have, start by making a list of things you’re grateful for. Maybe your family, health, job, etc. Are you grateful for these things, or do you feel entitled to them? Entitlement means that you don’t view good things like the gifts they are, but rather as something you’re owed. Sometimes the best things that happen to you come during times of struggle, so be grateful even for a struggle.
Part of having a grateful attitude is learning to say “thank you,” and say it often. Chick-fil-a is dominating their industry because they teach their people to say “please” and “thank you.” A simple thank-you goes a long way. How ironic that people often spend exorbitant amounts of money on marketing and impressing their clients, then don’t even bother to thank them. All that money and effort is wasted. Amazing things can happen when you sow thankfulness into others, not taking them for granted. Not sure how you’re doing here? Try listing the names of everyone you’ve thanked in the past 48 hours, including even the waiter at a restaurant. Everyone is important and deserves thankfulness.
2. Embrace the challenge.
There is nothing more powerful in shaping an attitude than embracing struggles, which builds character, which builds persistence, which builds performance. When Dawn and I put on seminars, people think it looks so easy. However, there’s a lot of challenge behind the scenes.
A coaching client once asked me, “If a young entrepreneur asks you what is the single most important trait that he needs for success, what would you say?” My answer would be “mental toughness.” This has to be built. No one is born with it. It comes from overcoming struggles, which makes you stronger, and then the next challenge is not so tough. When Dawn and I first started getting invitations to speak, it wasn’t because we were the best of the best. Our story had appeal because we had overcome so many struggles in life, and people wanted to hear about how we did it.
3. Orchestrate the input.
Determine what you will put in your mind. Your thoughts are the basis for your decisions and choices, which lead to actions. You can make a tough world even harder by having too many different sources of input. We process a staggering amount of information every day, which can be divided into four main categories:
Readers are leaders. It’s great to listen to books on tape, but realize there is power in physically reading a book. First, it is easier to remain focused while reading. Second, you can highlight important passages for more in-depth study later. Place yourself on an intentional program of reading quality books, even for just 20 minutes a day. If you don’t think you can fit reading into your schedule, try making good use of coffee breaks and lunchtimes.
Listening and watching
Studies have determined that if you drive 12,000 miles a year for three years, and listen to educational CD’s and podcasts in your car, that would equate to a two-year degree. Don’t waste that valuable time on the road: you could learn a new topic, a new language, or ways to improve your skill. What you watch is equally important. A personal choice that I have made is not to watch the news. It is so negative that I would be sabotaging myself. I cannot work to read and absorb positive things, then ruin it with negative input. When I don’t allow negative news in my head, I am at my peak performance.
To develop a winning attitude, find other people who have it and spend time with them. If your current friends and associates cannot support you emotionally, find others who will. Intentionally associate with people who are pursuing a dream, who focus forward, and who have great attitudes. Limit your time around negative, toxic people, so they can’t poison you. It’s a trap to think you can hang out with negative people and stay positive.
Carefully vet people before you give them space in your head. If offered an opportunity to attend a free training or coaching event, check out the trainer first. You might think, “Well, it’s free! I don’t have anything to lose.” But watch out: it could cost your mind. Remember, our brains are like computers operating on the principle of GIGO – garbage in, garbage out. Choose your mentors and coaches with specific intent, and pay for the best you can afford when necessary.
Win at life!
If you’re serious about attaining your dream, spend some time planning how you can cultivate a winning attitude. It is the common denominator for people who are successful in life. When you roll out of bed every morning, you can choose what your attitude will be. Learn to respond to your circumstances rather than react and let them control you. Be grateful, embrace the struggle, and filter what goes into your mind. You’ll soon discover that your winning attitude will carry the day!