I remember the story of the pessimist who read his horoscope that said, “Make new friends and see what happens.” He made three new friends and nothing happened. Now he complains that he is stuck with three new friends.
That’s the problem with having a negative attitude. No matter how good something is, negative thinkers will always find something to complain about. And let me tell you, after speaking to thousands of people and coaching dozens of others, I’ve learned that’s a lousy way to live.
The good news is this. Research has definitively documented a host of benefits and rewards of being a positive thinker or having what I call a KILLER ATTITUDE. Let’s start with these five.
► 1. Greater success
Success means different things to different people. For one person it means financial gain; for another it means achieving their physical fitness goals, and still another it means a restored relationship.
Whatever your definition of “success,” I would venture to say that everyone wants it. And no one, at least no sane person, ever says, “I really want to be a loser.”
That being the case, Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism concluded that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than any other factor.
In one long-term study of 1500 people, 83% (group A) chose their jobs because they believed they could make a lot of money. Only 17% (group B) chose their jobs because they had a good attitude towards the job. Seligman wondered if that would make any difference in their eventual success.
Twenty years later, the two groups had produced 101 millionaires. Only one millionaire came from group A – who chose the job to make a lot of money. One hundred millionaires came from group B – who chose their jobs because of a positive attitude toward the job. The difference was striking.
To double check that there wasn’t some other factor accounting for this miraculous difference, Seligman found that 70% of the millionaires never went to college. More than 70% of those who became CEO’s graduated in the bottom half of their class. So he concluded,
“It is your attitudes, more than your aptitudes, that will determine your altitudes.”
Or as I tell my clients,
“You can’t afford the luxury of a negative attitude.”
►2. Stronger health
I’m sure you’ve heard of doctors who will not operate on a patient who has a dark, pessimistic, “I’m-never-going-to-make-it-through-this-surgery” attitude. They know that kind of attitude is all too likely to come true.
The fact is your attitudes do affect your health, for good or bad.
Dr. James Strain at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City documented that. He compared two groups of 25 each, all men who had had heart attacks. One group was composed of pessimistic men while the other group was composed entirely of optimistic men.
The results? In the group of pessimists, 21 of 25 pessimists died within 8 years of their heart attack. In the group of optimists, only 6 of 25 optimistic men died in that time.
That should sound a warning bell to all of us.
►3. Longer life
Most people want to live longer, IF they feel good physically and mentally. Well, there is a documented connection between your attitudes and life expectancy.
In a 1975 Oxford, Ohio study,660 people over age 50 were asked about their attitudes towards aging. The group was followed for several decades. And the researchers concluded that those who viewed aging as a positive experience lived 7.5 years longer than those with a negative view.
Apparently, we have some control or influence how long we live by the attitudes we choose.
Another attitude pay off is…
►4. Better relationships
There’s a simple yet undeniable truth when it comes to your personal and professional relationships. And that is, you can’t live or work with people … without your attitudes …
or their attitudes … rubbing off on one another
Or put another way, attitudes are contagious. That being the case, are yours worth catching?
Simply put, positive attitudes create better, stronger, healthier relationships.
When I was a kid, all my friends tended to be about the same age. If I was a second grader, for example, I didn’t have friends in the sixth grade. And if I was a freshman in high school, I didn’t hang around seniors in high school or sophomores in college. It was all about age and very little about my friends’ attitudes or how good they were for me.
However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten very picky about my friends. I know their attitudes will rub off on me and make my life better or bitter. So my friends now, literally, range in age from 22 to 102. These days friendships are all about attitude and whether or not I want to be around certain attitudes.
You may have noticed the same thing, that better attitudes lead to better relationships. It’s like one man said, “We buried John today. He was only 38.” His wife replied, “38? I thought John was 78.” Her husband replied, “Technically yes, but he really died at 38.”
►5. More business
Occasionally someone in my audience wonders why I’m teaching them “soft” skills or people skills when they’re in a “hard” industry. They don’t see the connection between the attitude they bring to their jobs and the amount of sales they make or projects they acquire.
They haven’t learned one of the most important principles in all of business … that people love to do business with those who love what they are doing.
I’m sure you’ve had an experience something like this. You go into a store to buy a pair of shoes. You have the money and they have the merchandise, but you find some apathetic clerk that could care less. You probably walked out, thinking to yourself, “To heck with it. I’ll shop somewhere else.” All because the clerk did not have a KILLER ATTITUDE characterized by enthusiasm, knowledge, and service.
Barb Pitkin summarized these five ways that a KILLER ATTITUDE pays off after she attended my webinar last year on How To Take Your KILLER ATTITUDE To The Top. She said, “I was hesitant to be on this call … no reason but laziness. But I am so happy that I did join in!! Exactly what I needed to hear!! Attitude is EVERYTHING!! I am working on staying positive and liking myself … no matter what. My life, my business, and my relationships have all gotten better as a result. Thanks so much.”