I’ve heard it said God gives us a menu of two choices when we wake up to face each new day: a good attitude or a bad attitude. It’s our choice, and ultimately, our daily choices will lead to lives filled with joy and success or lives filled with frustration and failure.
John Maxwell’s book The Winning Attitude is a tremendous resource for encouragement and understanding why our attitude is such an important part of who we are and who we will become.
Why Our Attitude is So Important
John Maxwell writes, “The attitude is an inward feeling expressed by behavior. That is why an attitude can be seen without a word being said. Of all the things we wear, our expression is the most important. Since an attitude often is expressed by our body language and by the looks on our faces, it can be contagious.”
Sooner or later, Maxwell says, “What is happening within us will affect what is happening without. A hardened attitude is a dreaded disease. It causes a closed mind and a dark future. When the attitude is positive and conducive to growth, the mind expands and the progress begins.”
Maxwell asks, “What is an attitude?
- It is the ‘advance man’ of our true selves.
- Its roots are inward but its fruits are outward.
- It is our best friend or our worst enemy.
- It is more honest and more consistent than our words.
- It is an outward look based on past experiences.
- It is a thing which draws people to us or repels them.
- It is never content until it is expressed.
- It is the librarian of our past.
- It is the speaker of our present.
- It is the prophet of our future.”
Maxwell goes on to say, “We live in a world of words. Attached to these words are meanings that bring varied responses from us. Words such as happiness, acceptance, peace and success describe what each of us desires. But there is one word that will either heighten the possibility of our desires being fulfilled or prevent them from becoming a reality within us. Attitude.”
Maxwell believes, “Our attitude is the primary force that will determine whether we succeed or fail. For some, attitude presents a difficulty in every opportunity; for others it presents an opportunity in every difficulty. Some climb with a positive attitude, while others fall with a negative perspective. The very fact that the attitude ‘makes some’ while ‘breaking others’ is significant enough for us to explore its importance.”
To explore the importance of attitude, Maxwell offers seven Attitude Axioms:
“Attitude Axiom #1: Our attitude determines our approach to life. Our attitude tells us what we expect from life. If our ‘nose’ is pointed up, we are taking off; if it is pointed down, we may be headed for a crash. Adopting a good, healthy attitude toward life does not affect society nearly as much as it affects us. The change cannot come from others. It must come from us. We are individually responsible for our view of life.
Attitude Axiom #2: Our attitude determines our relationships with people. Observe the difference between executives defined as ‘high achievers’ (those who generally have a healthy attitude) and ‘low achievers’ (those who generally have an unhealthy attitude):
- High achievers tended to care about people as well as profits; low achievers were preoccupied with their own security.
- High achievers viewed subordinates optimistically; low achievers showed a basic distrust of subordinates’ abilities.
- High achievers sought advice from their subordinates; low achievers didn’t.
- High achievers were listeners; low achievers avoided communication and relied on policy manuals.
A negative past experience sometimes paralyzes our thinking and our attitude.
Attitude Axiom #3: Often our attitude is the only difference between success and failure. History’s greatest achievements have been made by men who excelled only slightly over the masses of others in their fields.
Attitude Axiom #4: Our attitude at the beginning of a task will affect its outcome more than anything else. Many times we have been guilty of viewing our future challenges as the sunset of life rather than the sunrise of a bright new opportunity.
Attitude Axiom #5: Our attitude can turn our problems into blessings. When confronted with a difficult situation, a person with an outstanding attitude makes the best of it while he gets the worst of it. Life can be likened to a grindstone. Whether it grinds you down or polishes you depends upon what you are made of.
Attitude Axiom #6: Our attitude can give us an uncommonly positive perspective. The individual whose attitude causes him to approach life from an entirely positive perspective is not always understood. He is what some would call a ‘no-limit person.’ In other words, he doesn’t accept the normal limitations of life like most people. He is unwilling to accept ‘the accepted’ just because it is accepted. His response to self-limiting conditions will probably be ‘Why?’ instead of an ‘Okay.’ He has limitation in his life. His gifts are not so plentiful that he cannot fail. But he is determined to walk to the very edge of his potential or the potential of a project before he accepts a defeat.
Attitude Axiom #7: Our attitude is not automatically good just because we are Christians. It is noteworthy that the seven deadly sins (pride, covetousness, lust, envy, anger, gluttony and sloth) are all matters of attitude, inner spirit and motives. Christians who possess no greater cause than themselves are not as happy as those who do not know Christ as Savior, yet have a purpose greater than themselves.”
I hope this overview of John Maxwell’s book The Winning Attitude has wet your appetite to learn more about how important a positive attitude is no matter what you are doing in life. There is so much more wisdom to be gleaned from his writings and I would highly recommend this book, especially to our youth and young adults who will become the future leaders of tomorrow.
See you next week for more Wisdom Matters!