I am sitting at home writing this while waiting for the third 2020 presidential debate that will air in a few hours. Faced with the second wave of the pandemic, the one word that has become a mainstream terminology is vaccines. I believe it’s going to surface in tonight’s debate as each candidate promises the American people, they are the best man to lead the country through the pandemic. While I wholeheartedly believe that vaccines are the key to returning to normal, I believe that there will be no vaccines to deal with an ancient human disease; the disease of attitude. There is no injection, patch, or tablet that we can take with the promise of a great attitude.
Similar to how you can be under attack from viruses such as the flu and become ill, you can suffer from an illness of attitude. Pathogenic mindsets could infect your attitude. If we consider John Maxwell’s definition of attitude, which is an inward feeling expressed by an outward action, and we merge it with the definition of mindset, which is a person’s established way of thinking, we can see how a poor mindset can directly affect our attitudes. The root of all diseases of attitude is a poor mindset. While we are wired and accustomed to being alarmed by new problems, such as the ongoing pandemic, our wiring could be our enemy. The initial reaction to the pandemic was swift and forceful, but a few months later, we became pandemic fatigued. We might get comfortable with COVID-19 and hope that we will get herd-immunity, and be oaky with that, but we can’t afford to let our guards down with diseases of attitude since we can’t be immune to them. We must protect ourselves from it by wearing mental masks to keep at bay pathogenic mindset.
Imagine if the level of measures put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 was equivalent to the measures taken to maintain a healthy attitude. I believe it would mean that we live more successful lives. And avoid the pricey cost for a poor attitude: Poor performance, broken relationships, and ultimately failure to maximize our potential. The first and important step to avoiding attitude diseases is to recognize them. Here are two major diseases of attitude we must be aware of.
The legendary entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker Jim Rohn identified indifference as the first disease of attitude. He referred to it as a ‘‘mild approach to life.” Living a life of indifference is comparable to drifting through life, letting go of the will to do something about and with your life. Indifference is the greatest threat to living a purposeful life. It is the number one and most dangerous disease of attitude because it hinders purpose-driven life; it chocks any effort to fulfill your purpose.
Where indifference exists there is no commitment, seriousness, and no excellence can ever be achieved. Indifference expels commitment in relationships, at work, and in leadership. It even affects the commitment to personal growth, which is the prerequisite for a great attitude. When commitment is compromised, it is impossible to be serious. Indifference makes a person blind to the consequences of their actions. And when commitment and seriousness go out the window, so does excellence. An indifferent person lacks commitment to themselves, to the people around them, they don’t take important matters seriously, and they never achieve outstanding work.
The most effective way to get rid of any indifference in an area of your life is to find purpose. Knowing your purpose allows you to identify what is important and act on what is critical for your success. It helps us prioritize. Purpose elevates our sense of awareness and urgency. With purpose, it’s easier to keep the weeds off your mental garden where great ideas germinate. It’s impossible to live a life of purpose and entertain thoughts of indifference. The danger of indifference is that it leads to the development of the second serious disease of attitude; Distorted self-image.
2. Distorted self-image
The second deadly disease of attitude is having a distorted self-image. When you have a lower image of yourself, you suffer from low self-esteem. When you see yourself higher than you are, you become prideful. Both of these will negatively affect your attitude. So, what can we do to have an accurate self-image?
Three things must be in place for you to have an accurate self-image. First, a true identity. Who are you? Your identity will determine how you see life. A false identity means you live a false life. A true identity means you like the life you were created to live even though your external experience does not match where you ought to be. I believe our identity is shaped by what we believe our origins are. As a person of faith, I believe my origin is from God. My spirit is an extension of God’s Spirit. It’s in my faith in God through reading His word (the Bible) that I define my identity. Where do you draw your identity from?
Second, a correct perspective of your past. As much as we would like to say that the past is the past, our history has a great influence on us. The influence it has could either be positive or negative depending on how we perceive. When you have a poor perspective, an outlook that’s not empowering you, you will have a distorted self-image. On the other hand, when you look at your past with a good perspective, you will move towards an accurate self-image. A poor perspective of your past is looking back in your life and seeing the failures, then concluding you are a victim. With a good perspective on your past, you still see your failures but also see your strength. Your failures become learning experiences. Is your perspective working again and negatively affecting your attitude?
The third thing that must be in place for you to have an accurate self-image is hope for a good future. Facing the future without hope is toxic to how we see ourselves. It diminishes confidence in our ability to create the futures we were created to live. When you feel like you can’t have the future desire, your self-image becomes distorted; you see yourself as incapable and powerless. Your attitude becomes sour. But with the hope of a better tomorrow, you see yourself as strong and well capable to create the future you see through the prism of hope. Your attitude becomes great as well.
While there might be no vaccine to protect us from the diseases of attitude, we have a guard-aid (Not found at CVS or Walgreens :)) that can keep us away from catching diseases of attitude, and also help us recover if we fall ill. Self-discipline is the antidote to indifference and the anchor that centers us on the accurate image of God who created us and is the standard of our self-image. Self-discipline comes easily when you know God has given you power over your life.
Next, I will share with you one major attitude that is at the center of all successful people, which you also can have. Before then, I ask you to reflect on this question; What can you achieve if you were more intentional about developing a great attitude?