“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Sir Winston Churchill
The Effect of Attitude
Harry Emerson Fosdick, a prominent 20th-century pastor, told a story of how, as a child, his mother sent him to pick raspberries. Disinclined, he went. Then, he thought he would surprise his mother and pick two quarts of raspberries instead of one. The work now became a challenge instead of irksome. He enjoyed picking those raspberries so much that years later, the incident stuck with him. The job his mom gave him did not change, but his attitude did, and the effect was incontestable.
What is attitude? The Webster-Collegiate dictionary defines it as a mental posture or position with regard to a fact or state. Leadership expert Dr. John Maxwell refers to it as an inward feeling expressed by outward behavior. I collate attitudes with fitness. Your attitude or mental fitness is the difference-maker between two people who have the same skill set and are assigned the same assignment. Attitude will prevail, and it will show in the outcome in terms of quality of work. Your quality of life rises and falls not due to the circumstances you face but the attitude you possess.
Below is a caption of an article written by the long-time senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church, Chuck Swindoll. Reading it led me to place a premium on having a positive attitude no matter how bad life gets:
“Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it. I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.”
The attitude you tote each day has a significant correlation to how far you go in life. As Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude.”
A substantial chunk of our internal makeup is our attitude. Unquestionably, it plays a colossal role in how we view life. It will shape your perspective of reality. A bad attitude will rear its ugly head sooner or later, no matter how hard we try to conceal it. On the other hand, a good attitude will:
Boost Your Energy
If you read my blog, then you know that I enjoy running. More specifically, long-distance running. The mental state a run puts me in is priceless. Recently, my friend Samson shared with me that running is linked to increased neuroplasticity in adults. What I put into my body before a long run is also linked to whether or not I have enough fuel to complete the run. There is a slew of energy-boosting foods. Bananas, nuts, and avocados are my go-to energy foods before a run. Your attitude, good or bad, is either an energy booster (good) or buster (bad). People with a positive attitude radiate a palpable energy. And it shows up in their effort just like it did for Harry Emerson Fosdick.
Scale Your Efforts
Once Forsdick changed his attitude, a challenge was born and, his effort multiplied. He picked twice as many raspberries as his mother asked him for. How come? His attitude affected his approach. The work became a challenge, not menial labor. Forsdick knew how to pick raspberries, so his competence was not in question. But a poor attitude was stifling the kind of industry his competence afforded him. Attitude does not make up for a lack of proficiency. Competence is crucial to performing a task. But where skill is present, attitude pushes it to high-quality performance. Could a poor attitude be standing in the way of you living life at a higher level? I am sure that when Forsdick returned home with more than he was asked for, the home was better for it.
Color Your Environment
Your attitude will either attract or repel people. Attitudes are highly contagious. And what’s infectious eventually influences. Attitudes can be passed on even with social distancing in place. Spend enough time talking with negatively dispositioned people or reading opinions and views that generate a negative attitude and watch your thought life take a turn for the worst. Dr. Maxwell once shared this profound observation: “Your attitude colors every aspect of your life. It is like the mind’s paintbrush.” As your mind is colored with a positive attitude, it circulates to those around you.
It is difficult to have a positive attitude in disorienting times. There is plenty of gloom and doom around the world. At the beginning of the year, nobody expected the planetary crisis we are in. But the words of the late Maya Angelou ring as true now as when she first articulated them: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” We may not be in control of circumstances, but we can still control our attitude. Find something to be grateful for each day, and watch an adjustment in your attitude take place. The alternative, which is a negative attitude, has never yielded anything worthwhile. In fact, I found out a negative attitude will sap the life out of you.
Final Thought: Life is difficult to some degree for each of us. What came easily because of the normalcy we were accustomed to has been disrupted. I want to encourage you that what we are facing is a circumstance, not a sentence. It will come to an end. Ask yourself this question, “What attitude can I have now that will boost my energy, scale my efforts, and color my environment? After all, it is the little things, like your attitude, that can make a big difference.
Keep on Keeping on!