What exactly would it take for this day to be “your best day ever?” Maybe winning the lottery? Being proposed to? Getting that huge promotion you’ve been working for? Maybe the birth of your first child? Or better yet, the birth of your first grandchild?
There are so many things that can make a day great that we can’t even think of them all. But here’s one that we don’t think of often enough… that we should.
To make today great decide that today will be great!
I know that sounds a bit simplistic however it’s anything but easy. There is no more important a choice you can make to begin each day than the choice of a positive attitude. That’s not always an easy choice.
For starters it must be a conscious choice. If we don’t intentionally make a decision to choose a positive attitude then other people and other things WILL make the choice for us. They seldom make a positive choice.
When trying to make that choice focus on what’s going well. Think about what you have and not on what you don’t. If trying to focus on the “good stuff” doesn’t work then remember the immortal words of Yoda, “No! Try not! Do or do not, there is no try.”
Then DO make the choice of a positive attitude!
If you can start your day on a positive footing it makes every thing else you’re going to do that day easier. If fact, a positive attitude makes everything better. It makes everything easier. It energizes your thoughts and your actions. It supercharges your relationships and helps you positively influence others.
When you choose a positive attitude you can turn what looks like a rough day into a positively great day. You see, all it takes to make any day your best day is a decision.
It’s very likely that you are far more powerful than you think. So powerful in fact that you have the ability to create your own reality.
How do I know that about you? Well because you’re human. Every human has the ability to create their own reality. Not only do they have the ability, they in fact DO create their own reality. Every person on earth creates their own reality out of their thoughts.
What you think you become. What others think of you matters very little when compared to what you think of yourself. Negative thoughts about yourself linger for a long long time. Self-doubt kills more dreams than all other obstacles combined. Yes, even more than lack of money. Actually, lack of money isn’t much of an obstacle at all, far more dreams are killed by lack of effort than lack of money.
You attract people to you who are often identical to the person you believe you are. If you think you’re a loser than you’ll invite losers into your life. Now the term loser isn’t very nice but I can’t think of a more apt description. Misery indeed loves company and if you think you can’t succeed you’ll attract people who think the same as you.
Since we are all basically a compilation of the five people we spend the most time with you want to make certain your five people build you up. If those 5 people tell you often enough that you can succeed you may start to wonder if they could possibly be right…and that can be the start of something magical.
Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
You have to be so careful about what you think. Your thoughts become your words and your words become your actions and your actions become your reality.
You’re creating your reality this very day. Everything you think, say and do plays a part in the future you’re creating for yourself. If you master the discipline of controlling your thoughts there won’t be much else in life you can’t master.
My recommendation is to start EVERY day with five minutes of positive self-talk. Those might be the most vital 5 minutes of your day. Those five minutes will set the tone for the next 1435 minutes of your day.
Those five minutes could very well change your life. Now that’s reality!
When I was a young salesperson (yes, it was long ago) I made a cold call with my Sales Manager on a potential customer. The purpose of that call was to drop off some literature and get the name of the individual who made training decisions for the organization.
There were two pieces of literature I wanted to leave behind. As I reached into my folder to pull out the second one I saw the receptionist tossing my first piece into the waste basket. As I handed her the second piece I asked her what she just did with the first piece. She said “I speeded up the process.”
I said I didn’t understand. She then explained that if she gave the information to her boss he would just throw it away…so she was speeding up the process. I made some comment about her unprofessional behavior (which I shouldn’t have) and we left the building.
When we got back into the car I made a negative comment to my Sales Manager about the women who had thrown away our literature right in front of us. His reply surprised me.
He said “what woman?” “I don’t remember any woman, we have lots of calls to make, let’s keep going.”
Without saying anything else his point was made. He had made a choice, he wasn’t going to let anyone rob him of one his most precious assets, a positive attitude. He truly seemed to have put the whole thing out of his mind before we left the parking lot. He is likely to read this post and he won’t remember this at all but it’s just one of the many things Mark taught me. I on the other hand remember it very well and it happened almost 30 years ago.
And that’s one of the challenges I have long faced in my career, I allow too many things to have a negative impact on my attitude. And I hang onto them for too long. That’s bad but what’s worse is when I pass that attitude along to others.
There will always be “stuff” that gets us down. There will always be “things” that can negatively impact our attitude. But, and this but can make all the difference if you remember it…but it can only have a negative impact on our attitude if we allow it.
And that’s a choice.
On the days I remember that my attitude is my choice I always choose a positive attitude. On the days that I don’t remember to make the choice of a positive attitude other people and those “things” make the choice for me. It’s never the choice I would make.
I am willing to bet that many of you face that same struggle with the choice of a positive attitude. So here’s what I’m going to do…from this day forward there will be a reminder on my iPhone, it will be at 6:00am EVERY morning. That reminder will be one word…that word will be Choose. That will be my reminder to make my choice of a positive attitude.
I’d encourage you to do the same. The power of a positive attitude is so great that we can’t allow other people and “things” to choose a negative attitude for us.
When you control your attitude you control your life. If you don’t control your attitude then your life is out of control. That’s a fact we need to keep in mind if we want to be the ones to control our lives.
Many years ago I worked for a fantastic organization called Dale Carnegie Training. I began as a sales rep selling their courses to businesses and individuals. One of the key selling points we were taught to use was the many benefits of being effective at speaking in front of groups.
I told many many people of the career advantages of being able to deliver an impactful message to an audience either large or small. I said the advantages were huge.
I learned an enormous amount about sales, leadership, and people in general while I was with the Dale Carnegie Organization. But after a bunch of successful years I wanted even more of a challenge so I moved into Corporate America.
After telling people for years what an advantage it was to be able to comfortably and effectively present in front of groups I was still amazed at what a huge advantage it actually was. It is not an absolute “must have” skill for advancement but if you do have it you will move up faster and have much greater impact on those around you.
Communication skills like presenting to groups are especially critical in difficult times. If there was any doubt about that those doubts are quickly being erased. We are discovering how important all communication skills are in times of trouble.
But many other “truths” of leadership are also being proven true in our current environment. Here’s a few of those.
As a leader you really really do set the tone for your team. If you’re convinced “it” can’t be done then rest assured it won’t be done…no matter what you say to your people. You can be the Rah-Rah guy in front of your people but if you don’t believe what you’re saying they will see right through you.
You must understand this pure fact. Your people’s attitude will NOT be better than yours. If you can’t be sincerely positive around your people then do your people a favor and don’t be around them.
Your people, with rare exceptions, will not out perform you. As a leader YOU are the model for successful behavior. If you’re putting out a 50% effort then don’t expect your people to put out a 51% effort.
If you’re blessed as a leader you may have the occasional superstar who is upwardly mobile and willing to outwork you. But for the most part your people will follow your example in all things, including how much effort any task or assignment is worth. If you have the audacity to call yourself a leader then you must authentically lead. That means demonstrating exceptional effort in everything you do.
You can be assured that if your effort is mediocre the effort of your people will be mediocre too.
Leaders who vision cast effectively have a higher percentage of engaged followers. “Leading” isn’t a title or position. “Leading” is a set of activities and characteristics. People will only follow someone if they have some idea where that person is leading them to.
Do you have a vision of where you’re leading your people to? Can you communicate or “cast” that vision out to your people? Is it a vision that includes them and somehow rewards them for helping to achieve that vision?
People will not follow you to Nowheresville. People don’t only want to know where they are following you to, they NEED to know. Which brings us right back to effective communication skills.
Have you shared your vision for the future with your people. Many many people are both wondering what they future holds and worried if they have a place in that future. DO NOT let them worry and wonder.
You’re most expensive employee is not the person you pay the most. Your most expensive employee it the one who is least engaged. Give all of your people a vision of the future that they will want to engage with.
Communication, modeling successful behavior and demonstrating the power of positive attitudes are characteristics of successful leaders. That is being proven out every hour of every day during these challenging times.
This is a bit of a challenging post to write. It will also perhaps be a challenging post for some people to read. It is a challenge in both directions because without seeing my facial expressions and hearing my tone of voice some people will think this post is uncaring.
My intent however is the absolute opposite of uncaring.
I’m writing this specifically for people who feel like crying during difficult circumstances. Notice I didn’t say I am writing this TO you, I am writing this FOR you. This is a message you need to hear.
In every difficult circumstance there are two kinds of people. Those who cry over their circumstances and those who try to improve them. Even people who cry about their circumstances know that the people who try to improve their circumstances have a much better chance to succeed.
But they don’t believe they can do anything about their own circumstances. The crying group wears the mantle of victimhood like a $5000 suit or a custom made ball gown. It is a very comfortable fit.
Even with a life full of far more comfortable options they have convinced themselves that they have nothing else to wear.
The trying group on the other hand will wear anything. They don’t care if their plaid pants don’t go with their striped shirt. They will try anything. They know that no matter how poorly their attempt might turn out the only way they can truly fail is to not continue trying.
The trying group believes in themselves. They trust themselves. They know they have what it takes to succeed.
That belief and trust in themselves is all that is separating them from the crying group. The trying group does not have vastly greater skills than the crying group, they just make a choice to use whatever they have.
Trying is hard work. Crying is just hard. Trying gets you somewhere. Crying traps you right where you are. Trying creates hope. Crying creates more crying.
The good news is that the price for moving from the crying group into the trying group is low.
All you need to do is to make a choice. A choice that says I’d rather try and fail 1000 times than to sit here and cry with no chance to improve my situation.
A choice that says I may or may not have what it takes to succeed but I’m going to use everything I do have and see where it leads.
My mom used to tell me to not cry over spilt milk. Yet I spilt my milk all the time and would invariably cry over it. Until I decided that crying wasn’t going to solve my spilling problem. I decided on the solution right then and there…. I haven’t had a glass of milk since.
In any circumstance you can choose an attitude of “Woe is me” or you can chose an attitude of “Wow is me.” Which one you choose sets your life on either a path of success or a path with puddles of spilt milk.
There are not too many people, okay, maybe nobody, who would describe these as the best of times. People all over the world are confined to their homes….or far worse. When you consider the alternative being confined to the comforts of home for a couple of weeks isn’t so bad.
But a lot of how “bad” it is, a lot of how bad anything is, is determined by your choice of attitude. And yes I would tell you that even in these times, even in times worse than these, YOUR attitude remains YOUR choice.
The opportunity to choose your attitude has been described as “the last of the human freedoms.” That freedom can’t be taken from us by any person, any circumstance, any organization, any government, or any illness.
You ALWAYS have the choice of a positive attitude. You ALWAYS have the choice to look on the bright side of any situation. Sometimes you have to look harder, sometimes a lot harder, to find the bright side but it is ALWAYS there. It’s simply a choice.
While it is simply a choice it is not a simple choice. It is a choice that must be consciously made. If you do not intentionally choose a positive attitude then other people and circumstances will choose your attitude for you…and it’s unlikely to be positive.
It’s easy to find things to ruin our attitude. But it’s also pretty easy, when we make the conscious effort, to find things to keep youself in a positive frame of mind. Maybe it’s a grandchild’s giggle on a FaceTime call, maybe it’s the perfect blue sky, heck, maybe it’s even that you have toilet paper.
Whatever it is, if you look I promise you’ll find a bright side. I am certain there are reasons in your life to be optimistic. But is must be an intentional choice. It must be made daily or even multiple times everyday.
I have this mindfulness thing on my AppleWatch that reminds to me to take a breath several times a day. I turned it off almost as soon as Apple added to the watch. I’ve turned it back on now, not because I can’t remember to breathe. I use it as a reminder to look around at all the fantastic things going on around me and in my own life.
I might be stuck at home but I refuse to be stuck in a rut. There are two sides to a coin, two sides to a story and two sides to every situation, the dark side and the bright side. Will you join me in looking for the bright side?
Take a look around and share what you find in the comments section. Sharing your bright side might even help others find their own!
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.