I’ve been learning about the connection between great leaders, and good attitudes. Turns out, they have them. It’s a strong correlation. During my time in South Africa, I grew to love the following quote:
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will 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% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.” — Charles R. Swindoll
This concept should make you feel uncomfortable. It runs contrary to the belief that great leaders are born… not made. It teaches that you are responsible for your failures. You are responsible for your successes. You have a choice in the matter. We place far too much emphasis on our pre-dispositions, claiming we were just “not made for swimming” or that he was a “born-genius”. Ultimately, there are very very few things that are truly outside our influence.
‘But Bryan, some people are just born with opportunities. Others are born into broken families. Others are born into poverty.’
Indeed. We are not all identical. Those advantages exist, but they fall into the 10%. Abraham Lincoln didn’t care about his disadvantages. Neither did Martin Luther King (this article mentions how little his low GRE scores correlated to his success). If you are an olympic sprinter, that 10% could make it difficult for you to win. But if you use your 90% better… if you train harder that your opponent, then you can still beat him. This idea is as powerful as it is painful. Once you latch onto this, you will see that anything anybody else can do, you could do too. You aren’t trapped in your career. You aren’t trapped in your financial situation. You aren’t trapped in your level of education.
It is in this light that I am committing myself to have a better attitude this week. This will be easier if I get enough sleep, have a good breakfast, and stay on top of my commitments, but even if I don’t, I can still do it. It’s my choice, and it will only benefit me.
What will you choose to do this week? You could master the moonwalk. You still have time.