Attitude and Effort

Many years ago I received some exceptional advice from a mentor that has stayed with me to this day. He told me to stop trying to control things I couldn’t control. His recommendation was that I focus 100% of my attention on the things within my control. He also said to “block out” the uncontrollable things from my field of view because they were nothing more than distractions. 

 

Through the years as I’ve considered his advice I’ve discovered there are far fewer controllable parts of my life than there are uncontrollable. I can influence what other people think of me but I can’t control their thoughts. I can try to influence their actions but people will eventually do whatever they think is best for them. The list of stuff I can’t control could go on forever. 

 

But that’s okay because through the years I’ve also discovered that I can control, completely, two areas of my life which have the greatest impact on my success and happiness. 

 

Those areas are attitude and effort. 

 

In his timeless book “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankl describes the “last of the human freedoms.” He says that last freedom, a freedom that can be taken from no one, is the choice of one’s own attitude. Every human on earth is free, regardless of their circumstances, to choose their own attitude. No one and nothing can take that freedom away from you. 

 

Before you say “well Viktor Frankl never worked where I work. He never experienced how tough my life is. He just doesn’t know,” before you say any of that you should know that Viktor Frankl is a surviver of Nazi Concentration Camps. He knows.

 

He would tell you that his choice of a positive attitude was literally life saving. 

 

I can only imagine, actually I can’t even imagine, how tough a fight it must have been each day for him to choose a positive attitude. But he fought the fight and won. 

 

The choice of a positive attitude is a big fight for me even in my relatively cushy world. I lose that fight too often but this much I’m certain of: every single part of my life is better on the days I win that fight. 

 

The question for you is will you consciously engage in that fight or will you allow other people and things to make the choice of your attitude for you? 

 

When it comes to making an effort I realized early on that there was a direct correlation between the level of effort I put into something and the results I received from that effort. When I really want something I remember the words of the immortal Yoda who said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” 

 

You alone control the level of effort you’re willing to put into any endeavor. You can allow obstacles to stop you or you can learn from them and use them as launching pads to your next level of success. You can make excuses or you can make progress. It’s hard to do both. 

 

As Babe Ruth said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” If you allow yourself to be beaten you can be assured there is someone close by willing to put in the effort to do just that…beat you. 


If you adopt Yoda’s thinking then you won’t try to succeed you’ll do it. 

Your Attitude is Your Choice

It’s tough to figure out which news is worse. Maybe it’s the severe flooding around the United States. Maybe it’s the incredible damage from the Typhoon in Mozambique. Maybe it’s the man made disaster in Venezuela. Maybe it’s the Brexit mess or the ugly political climate in the United States. 

 

Take your pick. It’s not hard to see how easy it is to develop and maintain a negative attitude.      

 

Lots of people have kind of thrown in the towel and are waiting for “things” to improve so their attitude can improve too. 

 

Think about that – they want something or someone else to fix their attitude. I hope you’re not one of the people waiting for someone to fix your attitude, but if you are here is some advice: Stop waiting, it ain’t going to happen. The only person who can improve your attitude is the one who looks back at you when you stand in front of the mirror. That means if you’re going to have a positive attitude it’s up to you, and you alone to make that happen.

 

Expose yourself to positive people. Surround yourself with positive information. Stay away from the nattering nabobs of negativism. Stay close to people who believe in you and will help you choose a positive attitude. 

 

I’m not talking about burying your head in the sand, I’m just saying to make sure the positive “inputs” in your life outweigh the negatives. That’s something you have complete control over.

 

Don’t wait for someone else to provide you with an attitude adjustment. The only attitude adjustment you need, and the only one that works is inside you waiting to be unleashed. Let it out and you can overcome any challenge that comes your way.


A positive attitude is a choice and it’s a choice that must be made. Failing to intentionally choose a positive means you will subconsciously allow “stuff” and other people to choose your attitude for you. And that attitude is not likely to be positive. 

How to Maintain a Positive Attitude

Here’s an often debated age old question… which came first, the chicken or the egg? Here’s a much newer question still often debated… which comes first, success or a positive attitude?

 

The definitive answer to that first question can be found early in the Book of Genesis. The much less definitive answer to the second question can be found in this post.

 

Many people believe that successful people have a positive attitude because they have it made. Other people believe that successful people made it because they had a positive attitude all along. 

 

Count me in the second group. A positive attitude comes before success!

 

While it might be easier to maintain a positive attitude if you’re successful that doesn’t mean it’s easy. A positive attitude requires a conscious decision to make it so. Without that conscious decision it’s very easy to drift into negativity. Sadly, negativity is all around us and we can be overwhelmed by it when we let our guard down. 

 

The good news is that with a little focus, well okay, maybe a lot of focus, anyone can have a positive attitude. 

 

That focus includes a resolve to not let “things” get you down. Decide before negativity strikes that you will respond in a constructive and positive way. I know what you’re thinking…if only it was that simple. 

 

I know that it’s not simple but it is possible and with a coach or mentor it can even be likely. It’s darn hard to overcome negative input without help so ask someone who cares about you to help. Have them remind you that you’re working on controlling your attitude. Allow them to hold you accountable until you can do it on your own.

 

Do you ever talk to yourself? You likely just did when you asked yourself that question. Everybody talks to themselves from time to time and it’s important that when you do that you’re saying something positive. That’s even more important if you happen to be talking about yourself. 

 

Remind yourself that challenges most often lead to growth and to maintain success you must keep growing. Accept challenges as learning experiences and you’ll find them a little less frustrating. I know that’s easier said than done but not much worth having comes easy. Keep that in mind.

 

Dream again! Dream your dream as if it were new. Turn your dreams into goals and develop a written plan that’s states exactly how you intend to achieve those goals. Don’t forget that there will be obstacles along the way. Your plan must include specific actions you will take to overcome those obstacles. Knowing how you’ll solve a problem before the problem even shows itself, helps to minimize the negative effects that problems in general can have on your attitude. 

 

Finish and end your day on a positive note. You may not wake up with a negative attitude but checking your email and social media as soon as you’re up can take you to your negativity zone pretty darn quick. Start your day with a bit of inspiration, both Siri and Alexa can help with that, just ask. A good breakfast will fortify your body for the day and some good positivity will do the same for your attitude. 

 

Don’t finish your day with email or social media either. I’ve started writing a single Thank You note to someone just before bed. It reminds me of all the people and things I’ve been blessed to have in my life. It’s nearly impossible to go to bed with a negative attitude when you’re thinking about how good a life you actually have. 

 

Circumstances can make choosing a positive attitude a humongous challenge but there has never in the history of humanity been a circumstance that could fully remove that choice. 


Remember that and then chose positive!

Think About This

If you were to talk with my dad these days he would likely tell you that the world “is going to hell in a hand basket.” Now I’m not certain I know what a hand basket is and I have no idea why the world would need one of those to go to hell but I understand what he’s trying to say. 

 

He’s trying to say that many of the changes happening today are not exactly positive changes. 

 

We seem to have lost the ability to communicate different opinions with anything nearing civil discourse. The “news” is not much more than two opposing viewpoints trying to sway people to their way of thinking. Long long gone are the days of truly impartial news people. 

 

The internet is becoming or perhaps has already become a place where hate goes to grow. I could go on and on…I certainly understand why anyone would think the world is worse off today than it was yesterday, or last week or last year.

 

Except that it isn’t!

 

Imagine if everyday before going to bed you had to express out loud everything and everyone you were grateful for. Upon waking the next day those things and people would be all you had…if you went even one day without expressing gratitude for something you wouldn’t have it the next day. If you went even one day taking a person for granted they would no longer be a part of your life. Just imagine that.

 

And then think. Think about how blessed you truly are. Think about how fortunate you are to live in this time. Think about how amazing the people are who help you make the life you have. 


And if you think this is all Pollyanna garbage then think also of how fortunate you are to be able to hold and express that opinion with no threat of penalties at all.


Just think about it!

The Two-day Challenge

Are you up for a challenge? I hope so because I have a challenge for everyone who reads this blog and even for the guy who writes it. (that would be me) This is really a simple but not easy challenge where everyone wins (you and those around you). No real risk exists (except for the risk of failing but truly this is the type of challenge where just the attempt makes you a success) and it requires no additional time.

 

Within the next two weeks, set a two-day period to inspire others with your positive attitude – two days where you’ll put on blinders to anything negative and be the one in your organization and family who everyone else can count on for words and actions that inspire and encourage. Two days where you’re the light for other people – your colleagues, your family, your friends and even your customers.

     

Allow nothing negative to enter your head and focus only on lifting up those around you.


Once you set your two days, fully commit to the effort regardless of the inevitable challenges, regardless of the news, the sports scores or any other negative people around you. Fall off the positive wagon at 1:11 on the first day? Get back on at 1:12 – no excuses. No matter how many times you come up short start again until your two days are complete. Two days. Be strong! Stay strong!

     

Remember, you wake with an option for your daily attitude. Challenges will come up regardless. Choose to have a positive attitude at all times and commit to spreading it for two days.
     

Not only will your positive attitude be contagious, it might become a personal habit – a personal habit that motivates you. A habit that motivates others as well. Go for it!


If you accept the challenge let us know in the comments section and then come back when you’ve completed the challenge and let us know how it went. You might be surprised in the difference the choice of a positive attitude can make but I won’t be. 

How to Know Yourself

Who you are determines how you view other people. It also determines how you respond to life’s typical ups and downs. When you know yourself you’ll have a much better understanding of why you react the way you do to the people in your life and the circumstances those people create for you.

 

So the question becomes how exactly do we truly know ourselves? There are a number of factors that make you who are but here are the two with the biggest impact: 

 

Your experiences in life. Every person you’ve ever met, everything you’ve ever done, both good and bad, everything you’ve learned and everything you believe has helped shape who you are. 

 

The people and events of your life have a huge impact on your self-image. That’s why it is critical that you make good choices about the people you allow into your life. No matter how strong you believe yourself to be, no matter how principled a life you think you live, no matter your level of self-discipline, you WILL be influenced by the people around you. Those people will determine, at least to some extent, what, when and how you experience the events that make up your life. 

 

Choose your friends & associates well because they help make you who you are. If you really want to know yourself then watch the people who are closest to you. You are basically a compilation of the four to six people that you spend the most time with.  Watch and listen to them and you will know yourself.

 

The second major factor that determines who you are is your attitude about those life experiences

 

Most people don’t think about this often enough but the fact is that your attitude is your choice. It’s ALWAYS your choice. ALWAYS! 

 

Bad things can happen to good people. The most successful and happy people CHOOSE to look for the good in nearly every life experience. Even the bad ones. 

 

For those of you who sometimes doubt whether your attitude is really your choice I fully understand. It can be really challenging to maintain a positive attitude and easy to forget that it’s a choice. It’s even harder when the people you spend the most time with aren’t helping you. 

 

If you’re hanging around with people who refuse to choose a positive attitude then you are very unlikely to have or be able to maintain a positive attitude yourself. And that’s a big deal! 

 

It’s a big deal because the attitude you keep has perhaps more impact on your success than any other single factor. If people, like your boss maybe, are telling you that you need an attitude adjustment what that really means is you probably need to change the people you consider friends and associates. 

 

The hard truth is that most people find it nearly impossible to make the choice of a positive attitude when fed constant doses of negativity. It’s possible but highly unlikely. 

 

No one wants to be thought of as negative but if you’re too often expressing negative viewpoints then people may begin to see you as negative…and they may just be right. Hang around with positive people and they will let you know when you’ve forgotten to make the choice of a positive attitude.


You may not like to hear it but it is a vital part of truly knowing yourself.

What You Actually Own

So, let’s begin with my personal definition of “own.” For me “own” means it’s mine and it can’t be taken from me. I don’t owe a dime on my house but there are a bunch of ways I could lose it. I have in my possession lots of cool stuff that could be stolen, lost, destroyed or otherwise taken from me. Even if you say l “own” that stuff it’s at best temporary.

 

No matter how much “stuff” you may claim to own you’re not going to leave this world with very much and there is nothing you can do to change that. 

 

But there are two things in this world I absolutely own and so do you.

 

The first is my self-respect. 

 

Eleanor Roosevelt, the diplomat and former First Lady said,  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

 

What an incredibly insightful statement. I first heard that in High School and boy did it come in handy. I went to a Military High School and the military staff worked overtime to try and make us feel inferior. That was back in the day when the concept of “you have to tear them down before you can build them up” was very much in vogue. They had the tearing down part totally mastered. 

 

But very few people really know me well enough for their opinion of me to matter. I’d bet that’s very much the case with you as well. So don’t let people who have not lived your life “help” you to determine your self-worth. They have no idea what you have overcome or are living with right now. Their opinion is just that, an opinion. It’s an opinion formed without many of the facts required to be accurate so put no more value in it than it deserves.

 

Always put a ton more value on the SELF part of self-respect and then be honest with yourself.  Never cut yourself more “slack” than you would someone else. You darn well know the difference between right and wrong and if it’s wrong for someone else it’s highly likely that it’s wrong for you too. 

 

The second thing that I absolutely, positively own, as do you, is the right to choose my own attitude. No one, regardless of their position, title, or importance in my life can take that from me…or you.

 

There are no circumstances, no problems, and no situations in life that can steal that right from you. 

 

In his amazing book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl describes the ability to choose one’s own attitude as the last of the human freedoms and the only one that can never be taken from us. 

 

By the way, Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust and in those horrible days he held on to the ability to choose his attitude so be careful when saying that your own circumstances make it impossible. You truly can choose your attitude no matter what!

 

Living an honest life while trying to make a difference in this world will make it easier to keep your self-respect when some around you would like to destroy it. Maintaining a healthy self-respect will make it far easier to choose a positive attitude. The two go hand-in-hand.


Healthy self-respect and a positive attitude are choices, they are choices you own and always will. Never forget that, not even for a second!