I am sure you’ve heard the adage, “Attitude is everything.” Well, sometimes, old sayings have hung around as long as they have for a reason: A positive attitude can help you surmount any roadblock thrown your way and keep you on the path to success.The converse is also true: Without a positive approach to life and work, success may prove elusive. I don’t care if you are extremely intelligent, elegantly dressed and went to a great college—you still won’t become all you want to be if you are exuding negativity. Just look at the successful people you know. I will guarantee they are the people who leap out of bed in the morning to seize the opportunities that the day holds. I am not saying they are always cheerful—though many successful people are. But all have an inner drive that comes from believing that their efforts will meet with success. I have been around many people who might not have had the highest IQ, but have been winners at everything they do because of their drive, their curiosity, and creativity—not traits commonly associated with negative people.
I am not unaware that life’s curveballs can cause even positive people to falter. A death of a spouse or child, cancer, a catastrophe at work—all can sap anyone’s drive. But how many times have we read about people who have survived terrible ordeals and moved on to thrive in life? Even in terrible times, people with the right attitude are ahead of the curve.
Let me tell you a story about a good friend of mine that illustrates my point. He was the CEO of a major healthcare system. He had a very high profile in the industry and was known for great integrity and insight. Unfortunately, he forgot some of the basics along the way. He neglected to keep his board informed about key decisions that should have required consultation. It didn’t take long before my friend was removed from his position. With no fanfare, he was out of work—a stunning fall. Soon thereafter, he came to visit me in my office in Chicago. When he walked in my door it was obvious the poor guy was devastated; his body language was enough to show how depressed he was.
I asked him how many of his friends he had heard from, and this is what he told me: “I’ve only heard from about four or five people, and one those people was you.” He went on to say that he was sure a lot his friends hadn’t called him because “they don’t know what to say.”
I responded to that by telling him not to be so naïve; a true friend would call no matter what the circumstances. I said that the people he had already heard from are his real friends and that those he hadn’t heard from were probably “frontrunners”; in other words, people who catered to him when he was on top but deserted him when he no longer was in an authority position.
He was aghast at what I told him, and I’m sure he didn’t want to believe my analysis of the situation. Still, I carried on. I told him he had a great reputation in the healthcare field, that he would probably in the not too distant future land a job with another organization, and that he would actually make more money than he had on his last job.
But I also told him this: “If you want to go around feeling sorry for yourself and tell people the injustice you feel that was done to you, then you aren’t going to get very far. Any organization wants people who have a positive attitude and not those who have a negative attitude about life.”
A year later I had dinner with my friend and his wife in his hometown. Sure enough, he had landed a job he loved, and he told me that if it wasn't for the conversation we had had a year earlier, he was not sure where he would have ended up. “From the day we talked, I thought about the things we discussed and made sure that I got on with my life with a positive attitude. It made all the difference in the world.”
Attitude is everything; those of you who want to be successful remember to let your attitude set your altitude!