It’s been said that attitude is the magic word.
This is because the right attitude can create a magical transformation in your life.
The right attitude can transform anger into peace, frustration into calmness, failure into success.
But it can also work against you. The wrong attitude can keep you mired in frustration and failure. It can be the cause of much, if not all, your sufferings and privations.
If you are currently experiencing loss, lack, and limitation in any form, or you simply fear a future in which you will experience loss, lack, and limitation, one of the best ways to turn your fortune around is through a change of attitude.
Life is a mirror. It reflects back to you everything you show it—your thoughts, emotions, words, and actions. Angry people tend to attract accidents and violence. Worrisome people tend to attract calamity and hardship. Happy people tend to attract luck and good fortune.
This is the Law of Reflection in action, also known as karma.
What you put out, the universe reflects back to you.
As the computer geeks of the world like to say, “Garbage in, garbage out.” They call it GIGO.
That’s because, despite their immense processing power, computers can only do what you tell them to do. They can only display the coding that’s input. Bad coding gets bad results. Good coding gets the results you want.
Likewise, the universe is kind of like a gargantuan super-computer. It works on the principle of GIGO and can only display the attitude that you input.
Bad attitude gets bad results. Good attitude gets the results you want.
This is why Earl Nightingale said:
“It is our attitude toward life that determines life’s attitude toward us. We get back what we put out.”
I’ve never met the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, the champion tennis players, but I remember hearing an anecdote about their time as younger tennis players under the coaching guidance of their father.
From all accounts, they would spend hours and hours in training, hitting balls back and forth to one another with their father looking on and giving advice on their technique and game strategy.
But the one thing he told the young girls over and over again was just one word: attitude.
Whenever he saw them making mistakes, or getting down on themselves, or getting frustrated and angry, he would call out across the court, “ATTITUDE!”
Then, if they slipped up again, he yelled, “ATTITUDE!”
That was it. That was all he had to say to get their mindset right and improve their play. Attitude helped them grow into the Grand Slam champions they became.
Serena and Venus reached the summit of their sport not just because they had great genetic talent, but because they had the right mental attitude.
So did Michael Phelps, winner of 23 Olympic gold medals and arguably the greatest swimmer of all time, and this is his advice:
“Are you going to wait until after you win your gold medal to have a good attitude? No. You’re going to do it beforehand. You have to have the right mental attitude, and go from there. You’re going to be an Olympic champion in attitude long before there’s a gold medal around your neck.”
A good attitude isn’t limited to success in sporting achievement. It’s vital for success in any of your 7 Life Segments: Family & Relationships, Career & Work, Money & Finances, Health & Wellbeing, Education & Learning, Fun & Adventure, Spirituality & Ethics (or Morals & Religion).
More than anything else, more than talent, skillset, luck, genetics, or your environment, your attitude will be the determining factor in your level of success in whatever you set out to achieve.
Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and author of the bestselling book, See You At The Top, put it this way:
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
Imagine your attitude as the most powerful cell in your body, a stemcell. Stemcells are the formative cells for every organ in the human body. You have trillions of cells, every single one of which began its life as a stemcell and evolved through a series of pathways into the cell it is today—skin, brain, muscle, bone, hair, teeth, blood, kidney, liver, gut, nerve.
All cells in your body can trace their origins to a single stemcell. Which is why there is so much medical research into stem cells. Because of their adaptive nature, doctors and scientists hope to use stem cells as the ultimate ‘silver bullet’ to cure diseased and injured organs.
For instance, by injecting harvested, healthy stemcells of a newborn baby into a damaged area of a paraplegic’s spine, doctors hope to encourage the stem cells to form new nerve cells that can patch the severed spinal cord and heal it sufficiently for the patient to gain control of her legs and eventually walk again.
This is just one example. There is also hope that stem cells can someday help a patient’s immune system to fight some types of cancers, such as lymphomas, leukaemias, and even neuroblastomas (a severe childhood cancer of the nerve cells near the adrenal gland).
Because of their innate ability to create any cell in the body, the potential use of stem cells is unlimited. So too your attitude has unlimited potential.
Attitude is first cause. It sets the tone for your thoughts, emotions, words, and actions.
Your attitude is the mind-cell from which all your experience evolves.
That’s why your attitude is so powerful. Get it right, and everything else falls into place. Get it wrong, and everything falls apart.
Your attitude—your mind-cell—is the key to your success, or it is the key to your failure.
In his bestselling book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, Robert Pirsig discusses the importance of having the right attitude to get the results you want.
Pirsig tells a group of friends of a set of instructions he has to assemble a Japanese bicycle, which begins, to the amusement of his friends, “Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind.”
This brings out chortles and laughter from his friends until they realise what great advice it is. There is a lot of wisdom in that instruction, Pirsig recounts, and goes on to explain (in the context of motorcycle maintenance) why this is so:
“It’s the whole thing. That which produces [peace of mind] is good maintenance; that which disturbs it is poor maintenance. That which we call workability of the machine is just an objectification of this peace of mind. The ultimate test’s always your own serenity. If you don’t have this when you start and maintain it while you’re working you’re likely to build your personal problems right into the machine itself.”
How many times have you built your personal problems right into the thing you have done or are doing right now? How many times have you built your personal problems into your current project, your garden, your marriage, your career, your life?
You see, to get a quality result you must first have a quality attitude.
An incident in London twenty years ago highlights this point, or rather, the antithesis of this point.
I required a set of shelving to be built in my Soho apartment bedroom and requested my landlord to send over his maintenance man to look into the job. A carpenter duly arrived the following Friday at 4:30pm. By his demeanor and curt introduction, I could tell he was in a rush.
After less than 1 hour, the carpenter packed his toolbag and headed out the front door saying the job was done. When I inspected the shelves, the bedroom was in a mess. Bits of wood and shavings littered the floor. The shelves themselves were roughly cut, with splintered edges and irregular cornering. I shook my head, as much for the state of workmanship as for the state of mind of the carpenter.
His attitude was to get the job done as quickly as possible and to get the hell out of there, probably to the local pub to meet his mates for Friday night drinks.
He certainly didn’t have a quality attitude. There was no pride in his work, and it showed in the lack of quality of his workmanship. He was in a rush to do the job and he didn’t care for the results.
Thinking back on that incident, it was as if he actually resented having to do the job, and that resentment is what he built into the bedroom shelves.
I doubt he had read The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I doubt he knew anything about getting your attitude right before you embark on a project, especially a project that you’re getting paid for and will affect other people. I doubt he knew that peace of mind is one such quality attitude.
But he isn’t alone. We’re all guilty of poor quality workmanship in one form or another because we were rushed or had other things on our minds.
Yet the lesson is a vital one, and it’s to first have peace of mind before you embark on anything you do. Then, with this attitude, you infuse that peace of mind into your thoughts, emotions, and actions, which assembles your experience of what you’re doing and is built into the work you perform.
It’s the whole thing, as Pirsig said. From the seed of your attitude grows everything else: your thoughts, your emotions, your actions, your workmanship. Your whole experience.
In Earl Nightingale’s words, you get back what you put out.
Your experience is an effect of your state of mind, not the other way around.
But how often do we seek peace of mind from the thing we are doing? How often do we look for happiness in external events or people or things? How often do we chase the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
Too often. Far too often.
And how successful are we at finding that peace of mind, or happiness, or pot of gold?
Probably not very much, if at all, and only then for a fleeting moment. Then we get up and begin the long, gruelling chase all over again.
No wonder we burn out in our 50s and 60s, just when we should really be enjoying the fruits of our labours. No wonder the prevalence of anxiety and stress is the highest it’s ever been. Not to mention divorce rates, heart attacks, strokes, and addiction.
That’s because we’ve got it the wrong way around. We’ve learned the wrong way of doing things. We’ve gotten into the wrong habit of expecting the world to give us what we want.
We feel entitled to it. We even demand it. At worst, we fight and steal and kill for it.
But that’s not how the universe works. That’s not how life works. That’s not how you work.
The universe will give you peace of mind when you first have the attitude of peace of mind.
Life will give you joy and happiness when you first have the attitude of joy and happiness.
You will find your pot of gold when you first have the attitude of serving others.
It all starts and ends with your attitude.
Of all the things I’ve been blessed to achieve in this lifetime, becoming a medical doctor, travelling the world, becoming a husband and a father, writing many books, helping other writers fulfill their dreams of publishing their books through DoctorZed Publishing, and more recently as a motivational speaker in and around Australia, I tell people that I found success in a bowl of noodles.
As a work-at-home father, I’m pretty busy. I also have 2 businesses, DoctorZed Publishing and my writing and professional speaking business. Because I work from my home office, I’m also responsible for the running of the house, which is probably a fulltime job in of itself. Needless to say, I’m one of the few male human beings that has mastered the art of multitasking. I can cook the dinner, wash the clothes, help the kids do their homework, and write this blog all at the same time.
One evening, after spending an hour and a half cooking what I thought was a lovely Asian stir-fry, I felt my energy draining and my mood rapidly following it down the kitchen sink. After only eating half their meal, my daughters pushed their unfinished bowl of noodles across the table, said thanks, and went back to their homework.
I stared at their leftovers and the big bowl of noodles that still remained to be eaten, thinking what a waste of my time and effort. “Why do I bother?” I said to myself.
It was then that I realised it wasn’t so much the end result that mattered, in this case the half-eaten meals, but the attitude that I’d had when cooking the meal.
My intention had been good. I had wanted to make a meal that was enjoyable and tasty and different, and that attitude had been built into the meal. The fact that my daughters weren’t hungry didn’t detract from the investment of myself into the meal.
In my heart I knew that I had given all I had into the meal, and that was what mattered the most.
I didn’t need their approval of the meal. I didn’t feel angry or upset. I didn’t growl at them to eat every noodle in their bowl because there were kids starving to death in Africa (although why we say that to our kids, I’m not sure). I actually felt at peace with the outcome.
So this is why I say I found success in a bowl of noodles, and what I discovered was this:
Success is dependent on how much of yourself you put into each and every moment.
When you put yourself into each and every moment, you make this moment of Now bigger. You actively help the universe to grow, and growth is the natural order of things.
When you put yourself into each and every moment, you make yourself bigger. You actively help yourself to grow, because what you put in you get out.
And how much you put into each moment is, in turn, dependent on your attitude.
Which is why your attitude determines your success.
I’ll end with a story about legendary baseball coach, Augie Garrido, that illustrates how important the right attitude is to success. Garrido spent nearly half a century coaching college teams in the USA with great results, but it wasn’t always easy.
While at the University of Illinois, he struggled for three years to motivate his team and instill a good work ethic into his players. Nothing seemed to work until he brought his dog, Jimmy, to meet the team. His players, as usual, were half-hearted in their approach to practicing their drills, but he had an idea of how he could get through to them the importance of having the right attitude.
Picking up a bat and tennis ball, he let Jimmy off his leash, who began jumping up and down in eager anticipation. Not to be disappointed, Garrido hit the ball into the distance. Jimmy sprinted after it, collected it in his mouth, then ran back and dropped it at Garrido’s feet.
Garrido hit the ball again, and again Jimmy dashed after it, returning it back to his master. Time and again, Garrido hit the ball, and each time Jimmy ran after it with delight and eagerness, no matter how tired he got.
Then, after a dozen or more hits, Garrido faced his team and said, “Now this is a ballplayer. He has a ballplayer’s attitude. The rest of you can go home and stay there until you come back with Jimmy’s attitude. Otherwise, you will never be true ballplayers.”
So, how much effort do you put in at your work? Do you have the same work ethic as Jimmie? How much of yourself are you putting into each moment, no matter how tired you get or how little you feel like doing it?
If a dog can have the right attitude, so can you. Imagine how much more successful you could be.
Dr. Scott Zarcinas (aka DoctorZed) is a doctor, author, and transformologist. He helps pro-active people to be more decisive, confident, and effective by developing a growth mindset so that they can maximize their full potential and become the person they are capable of being. DoctorZed gives regular workshops, seminars, presentations, and courses to support those who want to make a positive difference through positive action and live the life they want, the way they want, how they want.