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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Attitude—It Makes the Difference by Janet Callaway

A number of years ago leadership expert, speaker and best selling author John C. Maxwell wrote a book entitled The Difference Maker. Because we all hear how important it is to have a good attitude, he felt it was important to write a book explaining what a good attitude can and cannot do for people. While attitude isn't everything, it is, as he says in the title, The Difference Maker.

Let's look at three things your attitude cannot do for you. Your Attitude:

Cannot Substitute for Competence. No matter how great your attitude, if you don't have the skill or competence for a certain task, you will never get to where you want to go. John Maxwell uses the example of being an opera singer. He loves to sing and would love to sing opera, unfortunately he simply cannot sing. All the voice coaches in the world and all the practice would not make him an opera singer. It is not an attitude problem; it's a competence problem.

Cannot Change the Facts. Facts are facts. You can have a terrific attitude yet if you are 5' you'll never be a center in the NBA. As Maya Angelou said: “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.”

Cannot Substitute for Personal Growth. With just a few words, Bruce Springsteen said it perfectly: “A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.”

Now that you know a few of the things attitude cannot do for you, let's talk about what it can do. Your Attitude:

Makes a Difference in Your Approach to Life. This is the flip of an oft heard phrase. Think “all's well that begins well” rather than “all's well that ends well.” Your attitude going into a project, a game, a relationship or virtually any situation is a determining factor in the outcome. Whether you are talking about Monday morning pep talks or pre-game talks, the purpose is always the same—to lift up, improve people's attitudes.

Makes a Difference in your Relationships with People. Your attitude towards people has a huge impact on your relationship skills. If people consistently have a difficult time with others or continually experience failed relationships, it's almost always an attitude issue. They need to look at their attitude towards others.

Makes a Difference in How you Face Challenges. When you read the many and varied success stories of triumph over adversity, you realize that the common denominator is how those people responded to the challenge. Their successes were not a matter of background, education, ability, wealth or connections, rather it was their attitudes that caused them to persist when others would quit.

In closing I will give you a few lines from Chuck Swindoll who wrote the great piece The Power of Attitude:

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past . . . . We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude . . . . I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it, and so it is with you . . . . We are in charge of our attitudes.”

Isn't that great news?


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