“If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.”
Morris West (1916-1999), Writer
I’m sure you can tell how excited I am about my new book, “PIVOT: How One turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success.” I’m absolutely convinced that the techniques in this book will change every part of your life and work for the better.
But there is one question that I get asked quite frequently. People will say, “Dr. Zimmerman, aren’t there times when a positive attitude just doesn’t work? The answer is “no.” A POSITVE ATTITUDE ALWAYS WORKS.
It may seem, however, that a positive attitude isn’t working if you expect a particular result and receive another one instead. That’s because you’re misunderstanding the nature of positive thinking. As Dr. Norman Vincent Peale said, “Positive thinking is a form of thought which habitually looks for the best results from even the worst conditions.”
Now that may sound rather sweet and simplistic. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Here are the two most common complaints I hear and my response to them.
=> 1. You didn’t get what you wanted.
If you were to tell me, “I tried to adopt a more positive attitude, but things didn’t turn out right,” I would say, “Whoa! Hold it right there. What do you mean by ‘RIGHT’?” Do you mean things didn’t turn out the way you wanted them to turn out? Perhaps your idea, or the thing you wanted, was not the answer God knew was best for you in the long run.
I remember Jim Mackey who was a natural athlete with a great attitude. But early in his high school career it was discovered that he had cancer. His leg had to be amputated.
This setback didn’t stop him. He became one of the team’s football managers. He would jokingly talk about his wooden leg and how he could hold up his socks with thumbtacks. His enthusiasm was contagious, and with his inspiration behind them the team raced through the season undefeated.
To celebrate, the team decided to have a banquet during which Jim was to be given a victory football signed by each team member. Jim, however, missed the banquet. He was too weak to attend … as his cancer had been spreading through the season. His doctors knew he didn’t have long to live.
Nonetheless, Jim was back in school, soon after the banquet … smiling, laughing, and making jokes. But he was pale and drawn. When he went to the coach’s office to explain his absence the whole team was there. One player said, “We won, Jim, thanks to you.” Another player handed him the victory football. Jim thanked them with tears in his eyes.
As they were leaving, Jim turned to the coach and said, “Good-bye, coach. Don’t worry. I’m all set.” With that he left. Two days later he died.
Jim knew he was dying, but he made something positive from the sad and tragic situation he faced. He stood up to life courageously. That’s ONE THING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE WILL DO FOR YOU. IT WILL MAKE THE MOST OF EVEN A BAD SITUATION.
In fact two of the chapters in my “PIVOT” book will show you how to do that.
=> 2. Positive attitudes take a while to develop and work.
I’ve got a very intellectual response to that complaint, “Duh!”
I’ve spent years researching the field of attitude, motivation, and peak performance, and I’ve spent years practicing the various techniques. So I know first hand what works and doesn’t work. I put all that research and experience into my book, “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success,” and I made sure that I gave you the best of the best. In fact, the book is literally filled with shortcuts so you can get better results in a shorter time. But you must remember, I AM TEACHING YOU A METHOD, NOT A MIRACLE. You still have to do some WORK.
Of course, “work” is a dirty, four-letter word these days. There has never been a time in our history when so much time and money have been spent to reform our living conditions, improve the economy, and make things better for people around the world. And yet, despite all those investments, there’s oftentimes not a lot of progress to be seen.
Instead, the news is filled with stories that showcase an entitlement attitude. Over and over again, you hear people give variations of the same theme, “But yeah, what have ‘THEY’ done for ‘ME’ lately? And when do I get more help?” The emphasis always seems to be on what “THEY” should be doing to make “MY” life better.
I’m sure I’ll be chastised for saying this, but that’s not how positive attitudes work. YOU’VE GOT TO WORK ON THEM BEFORE THEY’LL WORK FOR YOU.
To be specific, there’s at least one thing you’ve got to do. You’ve got to PERSIST. The more you think a positive thought, the more you strengthen the attitude that will improve your results.
As Samuel Smiles once said:
“Sow a Thought, and you reap an Act;
“Sow an Act, and you reap a Habit;
“Sow a Habit, and you reap a Character;
“Sow a Character, and you reap a Destiny.”
I agree. It’s a cute poem, but it has a lot of truth in it. But it still adds up to work.
Walter Harter talked about living in a small Pennsylvania town during the Great Depression when he, like everyone else, desperately needed a job. So he went down to the local telephone office and asked for the New York City yellow pages. He scanned through the advertisements until he hit upon the Liggett drug store chain. They had 393 stores in the New York area. One by one he began writing letters to each store manager asking for a job. Not one reply came back to his 393 letters.
He decided to go to New York. When he arrived he went in to the first Liggett drugstore he found. Fortunately, the manager was a sympathetic man. He explained to Walter that all applications were sent to the personnel office located on Park Avenue.
When Walter arrived at the personnel office it was filled with people looking for a job. He went over to the desk and announced, “My name is Walter Harter. I’m from Pennsylvania…” He got no further. “Come this way,” the secretary said with a smile. Inside the office was a man sitting behind an immense desk. When he was informed of Walter’s identity his face lit up.
They’re all there,” he said, pointing to a stack of letters, “all 393 of them. I knew you would walk through that door some day.”
He started work that afternoon and in time became a store manager.
At any point in his job quest, Walter could have given up. He could have figured “what’s the point?” And indeed, if he had given up, there would have been no point in writing all those letters, and he wouldn’t have gotten a job. But Walter knew that NO MATTER WHAT THE OUTCOME, A POSITIVE ATTITUDE ALWAYS BRINGS BETTER RESULTS THAN A BAD ATTITUDE. And the same goes for you.
It’s a matter of discipline. Read my chapter on “Discipline” in my “PIVOT” book. The 7-Day Mental Diet I recommend will revolutionize the way you approach life and the results you get — forever.
Action: Are you doubting the effectiveness of having a positive attitude? Then take a look to see if you’re making one of two classic mistakes.
1. Are you expecting too narrow of an outcome? Are you too hung up on getting the right response?
2. Have you spent enough time and energy developing your positive attitude? Have you really worked on it so it can work for