Have you ever felt what is happening in your life, is only happening to you? I have. Many times, I have found myself feeling life is unfair. I saw the people around me happier than I was and wondered why I was the only one experiencing hardship. Everything I tried to do did not work as easy as for other people, I would think. The thought that the hardship and challenges I faced were only happening to me made things darker; I became despondent and lost all energy. But I remember making a simple yet transformative discovery that changed how I looked at my situations. I discovered that life happens to all of us. Additionally, I learned, it’s not what happened to me that made my life more challenging or easier, but how I processed what happened to me. I am not sure whether like me, you have to constantly remind myself that you are responsible for the climate in your life. I have the power to decide whether I will have summer or winter. The key thing is we all have access to the thermostats of our lives. The question is whether we know how to operate it. Your attitude is the internal factor that controls your response to your circumstances; it is your thermostat. Let’s look at three important truths about your attitude.
1. Impacts my Choices and shapes my Circumstances
The discovery I made about life brought to light a mentality I had to break. “A fight is going on inside us,” an old Cherokee said to his grandson. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil and the other one is good”, he added. After a short pause, the grandson asked, “Which wolf will win?” The wise Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” This story is often told to teach about the raging battle between evil and good within us, but I would like to use it to point out two mental postures that is represented by the two wolves in our day to day living. Within us, there are two mentalities that fight for dominance in our lives; a victim mentality and a victor mentality. When I kept thinking that life was unfair to me, and felt disempowered to do anything about it, I quickly discovered that I was feeding the evil wolf which was evident through the victim mentality. To break this mentality, I had to choose to feed the good wolf, which according to the Cherokee was joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. By continually feeding my faith, I made another crucial discovery; I was not the outcome of my circumstances, rather I was of my choices. I concluded my attitude impacted my choices and shaped circumstances; It determines our approach to life.
When our attitude is good, we develop a victor mentality. Shifting to a victor mentality will lead you to appreciate the principle truth that most people never discover, it’s not what happens to you, it’s what happens in you that matters. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. It will make or break a company, church, or a home.” Said Charles Swindoll, founder of Insight for Living. “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.” The attitude we have is what can make a difference in our experience throughout life.
2. Difference maker
The best way to have a good day is by waking up and deciding to have a positive attitude. You can never have a good day with a bad attitude. And you can never have a bad day with a good attitude. Your attitude has power over anything that happens to you in the day.
Your attitude makes a difference in any environment you enter. It affects how you see the environment and how the environment reacts to you. Think of your attitude as your favorite perfume; if you wear it and get into a room, everyone gravitates towards you. The opposite is true, people will avoid you if you have a bad attitude. I think of a bad attitude as bad breath. Since people are a major factor in our environments, our attitudes impact our relationship. It makes the difference between having a great or poor relationship with people. In addition to relationships, your attitude makes a difference in how you approach life in general and how you handle challenges. As we saw earlier, your attitude determines if you will have a victor or victim mindset. With a poor attitude, you will approach life with a negative outlook and see challenges as roadblocks. But when you have a positive attitude, you approach life positively; you will be full of life. Challenges will be opportunities for growth since you will be a solution finder instead of a problem identifier. But the most remarkable thing your attitude will do for you is it will make a difference in your performance. And this is where you discover the next attribute of attitude; a great separator.
3. Great separator
I love watching track and field during the Olympics. And I am a die-hard fan for the greatest marathoner in history, Eliud Kipchoge. But before I tell you his take on attitude, here is a question for you, what is the difference between the person who wins the first position and the one who gets the second position? If you said it’s their level of skill, you are partially correct. The most complete answer that includes their skill is their attitude. I say this because when it comes to the marginal difference in performance, it’s not skill that counts, it’s attitude. The top best athlete and the second-best in any sports often have the same level of skills. But what separates them is their attitude. Attitude is the greatest separator in performance; it is what separates average from good and good from great. It is what will separate you from the other best candidate on a job interview or consideration for a promotion at your current job.
“Athletics is not so much about the legs. It’s about the heart and mind,” said Kipchoge. In this quote, Kipchoge gives his take on attitude. He uncovers a powerful secret on a great performance. Whether in sports, at work, or in any area, the attitude of your heart and mind makes a great difference and separates you from the pack. Our attitude is a great separator because it enables us to be excellent.
Next week we will look at what goes into building a great attitude. Before then, here is a question to ponder on, what area of your life requires a change of attitude? Or in other words, which area in your life calls for you to look at what is happening in you instead of what’s happening to you?