1. Your attitude makes a difference in your approach to life. Two men looked through prison bars; one saw mud, the other saw stars. The happiest people in life don’t necessarily have the best of everything. They just try to make the best of everything. A person’s attitude has a profound influence on his approach to life. Ask a coach before a big game whether his attitude and that of his players will make a difference in the outcome of the game. Ask a surgeon if the patient’s attitude matters when she’s trying to save that life in an emergency room. Ask a teacher if students’ attitudes have an impact before they take a test. One of the things I’ve learned is that life often gives you whatever you expect from it.
2. Your attitude makes a difference in your relationships with people. Southwest’s workers are empowered to evaluate situations and make decisions. And their focus is on people skills and the golden rule. To be successful, a person needs to be able to work well with others. That’s why Theodore Roosevelt said, “The most important single ingredient in the formula for success is knowing how to get along with people.”
• The Lens Principle: Who we are determines how we see others. Our perception of others depends more on our attitude than it does their characteristics.
• The Pain Principle: Hurting people hurt people and are easily hurt by them. Our negative experiences and emotional baggage color our perception of others’ actions.
• The Elevator Principle: We can lift people up or take them down in our relationships. People possess a mind-set of either lifting or limiting others.
• The Learning Principle: Each person we meet has the potential to teach us something. Some people possess a teachable attitude, and they assume that they can learn something from everyone they meet. Others look down on many people and assume that they have nothing to offer.
While it’s trust that some people just seem to have a naturally winning way with others, even someone with limited natural people skills can learn to win with others if he decides to have a positive attitude toward people.
3. Your attitude makes a difference in how you face challenges. It’s said that when U.S. Marine Chesty Puller found himself surrounded by eight enemy divisions during the Korean War, his response was, “All right, they are on our left. They are on our right. They’re in front of us. They’re behind us—they can’t get away from us this time!” I once heard a lecturer say that no society has ever developed tough men during times of peace.
You can see this pattern in the lives of great men and women:
Demosthenes, called the greatest orator of ancient Greece, possessed a speech impediment. Legend has it he overcame it by reciting verses with pebbles in his mouth and speaking over the roar of the waves at the seashore.
Martin Luther, father of the Reformation, made use of the time he was confined in the castle of Wartburg to translate the New Testament into German.
Composer Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his greatest symphonic masterpieces after he had become deaf.
John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress while in prison. Daniel Defoe also wrote while in prison, producing Robinson Crusoe.
Abraham Lincoln is considered by many to be the best of the United States’ presidents, yet he probably would not have stood out as a great leader has he not led the country through the Civil War. Often difficult circumstances seem to be instrumental in the creation of great leaders and thinkers. But that is the case only when their attitudes are right.
When a problem comes into contact with someone who has a positive attitude, the result is often something wonderful. Out of the turmoil that problems cause can emerge great statesmen, scientists, authors, or business-people. Every challenge has an opportunity. And every opportunity has a challenge. A person’s attitude determines how she handles those.
4. Your attitude is the difference maker. Many medical personnel say they have seen a positive correlation between people’s attitudes and their ability to recover from illnesses such as cancer. Poet John Milton wrote,
The Mind is its own place, and it itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.
Your attitude has a profound influence on how you see
the world—and thus on the way you live out your life.
Attitude is important. It is so important that it truly
is the difference maker. It isn’t everything, but it is one
thing that can make a difference in your life.