Made for Success
- Ability, Motivation, Attitude, Opportunity and Focus

by Chris Widener

Get a New Attitude

One of the first and foremost things to do to change your life is to change your attitude. Attitude is fundamental to the success or failure that we experience in our life. Are you less successful than you would like to be? Do you have the money you want? Do you have the family you want? Do you have the job that you want? If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, then you may want to take a look at your attitude, because so much depends on it!

“Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it,” says Irving Berlin. It is true. Now don’t get me wrong, that 10 percent is M-A-J-O-R, but even bigger than that is what your attitude is. So, do everything that you can – action wise – to make your life an absolute success. But when you are done acting, you will only have what you have. It may be big and it may be little. But it is what you have to live with. Now the biggest key will be what your attitude is toward what your actions have brought to you. One person will work and be happy with it. Another will work, achieve the same thing and have a terrible attitude about it. Who will achieve the most successful life? My bet is on the one with the best attitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.” It is all in what value you give to it! You see, you may look at one thing and say “That’s terrible,” while another person may say, “That’s great!” A simple example would be a half a ham sandwich. Now, if you are used to filet mignon, you are going to think, “A measly old ham sandwich? Is that it?” But a starving person would have a very different viewpoint! They would think, “I won the lunch lottery!

Another reason to keep in mind that our attitude is so very important is because often times the attitude we demonstrate is exactly what we will get back to us. The great Earl Nightingale said, “Our attitude toward life determines life's attitude towards us.” Think about it. You walk into a store and say to the clerk, “Hey lady, do you think you could get off your duff and tell me where I can find the milk?” What kind of attitude do you think you will get back? Instead, we should go in and say, “Excuse me, but would you be so kind as to tell me where I could find the milk?” You will get a good attitude back from that! The same is true in every area of our lives. Do you find that others have a bad attitude toward you? Then maybe you have a bad attitude toward them. The old saying is true that you reap what you sow. If you are reaping bad attitudes, you are probably sowing bad attitudes. Take a closer look, and you may find the key to turning your life around.

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. That little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” W. Clement Stone. Let’s face it, there is little difference in people physically or intellectually. But what does make the difference is the attitude. You can take two people of similar background, education, skill and intelligence and find that one is the kind of person you are looking for because of a positive attitude while the other is a complete dud – the eternal pessimist! Your attitude is the big difference.

What is your attitude? Is it positive or negative? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? I guarantee you, no matter what your attitude is, it is affecting you – and your success. Take this test: Purposefully upgrade your attitude for 90 days and see if life doesn’t begin to change for you! Pick a few areas where you can make a change. For example, begin to trust people and believe the best in them and see if your relationships begin to change!

If you’re stuck or if you just want to go to the next level of success, it’s time to “Get a New Attitude!”

Ability, Motivation, and Attitude

“Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz.

There are three primary aspects of your life that will determine whether or not you are successful in your endeavors. You will not be successful if you have only one or two. You must have all three working together. Consider them like the three legs of a “stool of success.”

Ability – the level at which you are able to actually do things. Your skill level. If you have a high level of skill, that’s good. And the better you get, the better it will be for you. To the degree that you can perform your actions at higher and higher skill levels, the more and more success you will find in your chosen field.

Motivation – the level at which you are able to find “a reason to act.” This is the internal drive that you find that enables you to exercise your abilities. To the degree that you can find a way, or ways, to keep yourself motivated, you will see yourself right in the thick of things, carrying out your actions to the best of your abilities and succeeding accordingly.

Attitude – this is the mental state that you have while carrying out your actions to the best of your ability. It is the way you view the world around you and choose to see it, either positively or negatively. To the degree that you can maintain a positive attitude about yourself, others, and the circumstances you find yourself in, you will see yourself achieving greater and greater things.

“But Chris, can’t I get away with just two?”

No.

What if you have high skills and motivation but a rotten attitude? People will stay away and hinder your success. What if you have a good attitude and motivation but poor skills? People will like you, maybe even root for you, but go to someone else with the skills they need. What if you have great skills and attitude but no motivation? Well, you’ll be sitting on the couch like a lazy slug while the go-getters are out there making your money and achieving your dreams!

No, it takes all three. So let’s ask some questions:

Ability: How highly skilled are you? Is your skill level holding you back? How so? What could you achieve if you just took your skills to the next level beyond where they are right now? How would improving your skills improve the bottom line of your success?

Motivation: How motivated are you? Why do you answer that way? What would your spouse or close friends say? Would they say you are as motivated as you say you are? Why or why not? Why do you have the level of motivation that you have? What could you do to find a higher level of motivation? What would happen if you became super motivated for the next period of your life. What great things would happen?

Attitude: Do you have a good attitude or a poor one? How would you rate yourself? What about when things go wrong? Are you more of an optimist or a pessimist? What would happen if you took your attitude to the next level for the next 60 days? What if you just chose to have an incredible attitude? What would be the ramifications?

“The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts.” Booker T. Washington.

This is so true. People will judge you on what you accomplish, not what you know or what you talk about. In fact, if you know a lot or talk a lot but do not accomplish anything, people will wonder what happened. So the question is whether or not you will take the actions necessary to deliver on your potential. To do so, you will need to focus in on the three legs of the stool of success: Your ability, your motivation, and your attitude.

Take some time this week to give some serious thought to these three areas. Your success depends on it! And when you have done some reflection – put the conclusions you come to into action!

When the Door of Opportunity Opens

Anybody can achieve anything – do you believe that? I do.

But there is a caveat that must be made. Those who succeed are those who walk through the door of opportunity when it swings open. That we know. But what is the secret to getting through the door of opportunity?

Being outside the door when it swings open.

As the story goes, Frank Sinatra got his big break while working as a waiter. One day, as he was waiting tables, who does he see sitting in the restaurant, but one of the biggest names in the music industry. Old Blue Eyes did the unbelievable: He cleared off a table next to the gentleman and got up on it and sang! He knew he was done at the restaurant for doing so, but how many times would this door of opportunity open up? Needless to say, the rest is history.

You may remember my article about the stagehand for Kenny G who one day was in the auditorium with Kenny, just the two of them, when he started to play every song for him on the piano that was set up. Kenny didn’t even know the guy could play the piano. Guess who is now the lead keyboardist for Kenny G? You got it!

You see, you never know when the door of opportunity is going to open wide. For some, the big break comes early in life and for others later on. But for all of those who become successful, there is one key similarity: They were ready. And for every one of those who were ready, there were thousands more who weren’t.

So, the principle for us is: Be ready!

Are you ready? Here are some thoughts for you to consider.

Are your skills as sharp as they could be? Are they enough so when your shot comes you can perform?

Is your character deep enough to handle success? Let’s face it; you don’t want big success if your character won’t be able to handle it.

Are you working hard to position yourself now? The job to do while waiting for the door to open is to develop your skills and your character, so as to position yourself to get through that door before it closes.

Your door will open someday. It opens for everyone. It may only open once or it may open many times. It is different for everyone and life just isn’t fair that way. But everybody gets a shot. Will you be ready?

When that huge door of opportunity opens up, will you be able to walk boldly through it?

Do everything you can to be ready. Don’t just sit and wish and dream. Be proactive and make sure that you are the most qualified when the door opens. Make sure that you are the hardest worker. Make sure you are the closest to the door.

When it opens – Be Ready!

Shhh. Do you hear that? Hinges creaking! It is the sound of the door opening. Your door of opportunity! Are you ready?

The Secret to Intense Focus

One of the common elements you see in almost all successful people is focus. They saw what they wanted to achieve and they focused in on it like a laser. Then, when they become famous and we, the common folk, know their name, we are amazed at the focus they have.

Focus will set two people apart who have equal skills.

What I am about to say may appear to be blasphemous to some:

Tiger Woods is not that much more highly skilled than the other top PGA players!

No, I haven’t lost my marbles. Take any of the big names and stick them on any course and on any given day they can shoot a 65 for 18 holes. You see, it isn’t whether they can – they all CAN – it is whether or not they DO. And that is determined mostly by F-O-C-U-S.

Watch Tiger sometime in a close race to the finish. Watch when he hits a bad shot. Does he fall apart and grumble to anyone who will listen? No! In fact it is almost eerie to watch him lock back in, even more focused than ever. THAT is what makes him a champion. I truly believe it is Tiger’s focus that has distinguished him from the rest of the field to become the best golfer ever.

The same is true with others who achieve great things, even in crucial and highly tense situations. Think John Elway in those final minutes of those games he brought the Broncos back in. Think of all of those last second shots that Michael Jordan took (that everyone in the entire arena knew he was going to take – including the other team). These were classic examples of focus.

So what can the average person do to increase their focus? There are some things to do to train yourself. You may never be Tiger Woods, either on the golf course or in the office, but you can increase your focus to where it needs to be to give you the success you desire.

In the remaining part of this article I want to show you how to stay away from a common mistake and turn toward a discipline of focus that will be the first step in greatly enhancing your ability to focus. I will show you a practice technique to use that will greatly enhance your focus and your performance.

The myth is that to focus we must push other things out of your mind. For example, people will say to an athlete, “Don’t listen to the fans.” Or someone will say to another, “Don’t think about…” This doesn’t work! For example, right now, do not picture your car. You thought of it right? Exactly. This myth actually gets you to focus on exactly what you don’t want to focus on!

Instead, the secret to intense focus is to set your mind intently on what it is you want to focus in on. For example (I’m hoping we have some golfers here – and if not, make the changes you need to, but you should get the point), let’s say you are standing over a ten foot putt. What do you want to focus on? Making that putt! So what are the elements you should be aware of? Then focus on them. But go beyond mere observation. Most people just look at the line of the putt, take a guess on how hard to hit and fire away…

Here are some other things to do (remember the process here is to get you highly aware of your surroundings and to focus with intensity):

Look at the hole. Is the plastic cup even with the top of the grass or is it sunken in? How much? Bet you never noticed that before. Does the grass tip in at the edge or is it even? How long is the grass between you and the hole? Does it waver in length from foot to foot? Is there sand along the way in your path? How much? What color? What size? Is it even or just for a section? Are there any bugs sitting on the ground between you and the hole? Does the hill go up or down at all? Not significantly – you would have already noticed that – but even slightly? Is there a slight wind? Can you feel it blowing on your face? Lastly, imagine that ball rolling along that path, curving slightly if it has to, and falling in the hole. I mean, really create that movie in your head and watch it!

Chris, is this the secret to making your putts? No, but it’s an example of how to focus… Be observant. Notice. Focus. Lock into your focal point(s).

The same could be done at a business meeting with all of the people there, what questions they are asking, what points are being made, what may come next, what the others are wearing, why they chose that outfit for this meeting (What they were trying to accomplish etc).

The myth of most focus advice is to try to not focus on bad things. The secret to intense focus is to focus to a higher degree than you normally do on the “good things” – the things you are trying to accomplish!

Give it a try for a week. Focus intensely on what it is you want to accomplish. Bring yourself to a much higher degree of awareness of the surroundings etc… and see for yourself the power behind this methodology!

Then when you have taught yourself to do this for practice, it will become a part of you and you will start to do it naturally and that will be an incredible day!


Chris Widener is a popular speaker and writer as well as the President of Made for Success and Extraordinary Leaders, two companies helping individuals and organizations turn their potential into performance, succeed in every area of their lives and achieve their dreams. Visit his websites at http://www.madeforsuccess.com and http://www.extraordinaryleaders.com.

Many more articles in Personal Development in The CEO Refresher Archives

   


Copyright 2005 by Chris Widener. All rights reserved.

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