Orrin Woodward LIFE Leadership Team

Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

Attitude Determines Altitude

Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 15, 2010

Imagine your brain as a garden and you as the gardener.  What do you allow to grow in the fertile soil of your brain?  Ideas have consequences in a person’s life, much like plants produce fruit in a garden.  The key question is what fruit is being harvested from the plants growing in your garden?  Better yet, what type of plants are growing in your garden, as the fruit always follows from the plant.  For example, if you plant corn, you will harvest corn.  Likewise, if you plant weeds, more weeds will sprout up, choking off the soil from any productive fruit.  A person’s attitude is a product of the fruit in the ideas percolating in his mind.  A positive attitude results when positive ideas are cultivated in one’s brain.  A negative attitude is the result when weeds choke off all, or nearly all, the brain’s thinking soil.  Attitude is a choice, being the ability to choose the proper response consistently, no matter what the stimulus.  It’s not what happens to you in life that matters as much as how you respond to what happens to you.  No one can plant weeds in your garden without your permission, but sadly, most people are not tending the garden; therefore, weeds grows as a matter of course through the associations they have in life.

The typical person, before learning of his gardening responsibilities for his mind, allows seeds to be scattered around at will.  From the radio, television, friends, co-workers, and family, one is bombarded with seeds, many of them destructive, without understanding the importance of a positive attitude in the success process.  Most people allow life to plant any seeds in their garden, producing whatever results the seeds create.  Sadly, this surrenders the results of life to ones surroundings, rather than to ones choices.  Attitudes in life determines the altitudes of life.  When one decides to move on, one must assume the responsibility to tend his garden, pulling weeds daily, while nurturing the proper fruit producing ideas.  Why is it easier to have ‘stinking thinking’ than it is to have positive thinking?  It’s the same answer as to why it’s easier to have weeds grow in a garden, than it is to have fruit.  We didn’t make the rules of the game of life, but we must learn to apply the rules in our favor to win in the game.

Most people when they fail at a task, quickly develop coping mechanisms like blaming, excuse making, etc, to lessen the pain of defeat.  But people with a positive attitude know that a temporary defeat is only another lesson on how not to win.  Thomas Edison was asked how he failed hundreds of times on his way to discovering the incandescent light bulb.  His answer should be learned by all potential achievers.  Edison said that he hadn’t failed hundreds of times, but actually had successfully learned hundreds of ways that it wouldn’t work.  Failure is never final to a person with a good attitude.  All winners discipline their thinking to ensure that the failures in life are merely stepping stones to further advancements.  Failure is an event, not a person, but without a winners thought process, people will label themselves failures, instead of the event as a failure.  No one has to be a failure in life, but all of us will go through failure events.  Whether we ultimately succeed or fail, has much to do with our perspectives on failures.  Winston Churchill, a man with a stellar attitude, said, “Success is going from one failure to another with no loss in enthusiasm.”

There are five key concepts to tending your mental garden, allowing the right attitudes to prosper while choking out the ‘stinking thinking.’  The first key idea is to develop a thankful spirit.  One won’t find a negative person who has a thankful attitude, conversely, one won’t find a positive person who isn’t thankful.  What are you thankful for in your life?  This may be hard at first, especially if one has nurtured bitterness and resentment in the garden, but it’s essential to develop thankfulness, helping to pull the weeds in from the garden.  It reminds me of the story of a man griping because he had no shoes, until he saw another man who had no feet.  Many times, thankfulness is a matter of perspective, one can easily identify things that are not going right in life, but attitude is helped by focusing on the blessings, empowering further improvement.   Bitterness and resentment is like drinking poison, expecting someone else to die.  Pull the weeds of bitterness and resentment from ones heart.  Let it go, as one cannot get better until bitterness is released.  

There’s a humorous story told to two young brothers.  One terminally a positive spirit, the other, oppositely, a negative spirit.  No amount of lecturing by the parents seemed to change the young boys attitudes. The parents, well to do business owners, decided to run a test, wanting to see if they could affect the attitudes of the two young boys.  At Christmas time, the parents filled one room with games, toys, and nearly any gift a young boy could desire.  In another room, the parents loaded a wheelbarrow full of horse manure. On Christmas morning, the parents opened up the room with all the toys, allowing both boys to see into the room, but only letting the negative child enter.  Not surprisingly, the child played for a while, and then, complaining that he couldn’t find all of the toys that he wanted, sat in the corner pouting. Instead of recognizing all of the gifts that he received, he focused on the few things that he still lacked, robbing him of the joy in life.  The parents, with the positive child in tow, headed to the other room with the horse manure, opening up the door and letting the positive boy enter.  Right away the boy enthusiastically ran around the room, searching frantically, looking for something.  After watching this for several minutes, the parents asked him why he was so excited. The boy, looking up at his parents with a twinkle in his eye replied, “With this much horse manure, I’m sure the a pony in here somewhere!”  The young boy had an attitude, an attitude that each one of can choose on a daily basis.

The second key to a healthy attitude is to guard your associations.  There is an old souther saying, “If you hang out with dogs, you get fleas.”  Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying to disassociate with your family, but I am suggesting to set some ground rules in the relationship, ensuring bad seeds are not scattered.  The space in your brain is too precious to be filled with weeds, yielding only more weeds in a person’s life.  Tell me who a person associates with, and I will tell you the persons attitudes.  Birds of a feather flock together.  When people assume the gardeners position over their brain, what and who can scatter seeds into their garden becomes of utmost importance.  Since associations do influence us, it’s critical to ensure the associations are influencing our attitudes in a positive direction.  One cannot hang out with upbeat, forward looking, moving on people without developing an upbeat, forward looking, moving on attitude.  Conversely, one cannot hang out with negative, bitter, resentful, complaining, critical spirited people without becoming negative, bitter, resentful, complaining, and critical spirited oneself.  I started over seventeen years ago with a personal commitment to read at least three personal development books per month, listen to two to three (if not more) personal development CDs per day, and to attend as many personal development seminars as I possibly could.  I knew that it was my stinking thinking that had created the poor results in my life and that it would take improved thinking to improve my results.  Like the Bible states, “Iron sharpens iron.”  If I wanted to develop a positive attitude, then I needed to surround myself with other positive attitudes.

The third key to a healthy attitude is to focus on serving others.  When one is serving others, it helps in providing a greater perspective on ones own challenges.  Self centered people are so wrapped up in themselves, that they cannot see, let alone serve, the hurting people around them. Predictably, self centered people have attitude issues, because they are internally focused, all their issues become magnified, having no comparison to another’s troubles. Serving others is one of the best ways to maintain a positive attitude, lightening your own load by lightening others loads.  In the process, one develops friendships and perspectives that provide true lasting joy.  One cannot help another without feeling better about ones self.  This is a principle of life, neglected by many, but a key factor in all healthy attitudes.  Attitude is a choice, a choice to magnify the good in life.  Attitude is not pollyanna, not ignoring negatives, but simply focusing on the empowering thoughts that will help you persevere through the negatives in life.  By serving others through their challenges, it gives strength and encouragement when facing your own.  

The fourth key idea in maintaining a positive attitude is to stay active.  An idle mind and hands are the devil’s workshop.  Pick a path and start working.  Human beings were made to work, and find contentment in a job well done.  When one is truly pursuing a noble objective, one is happier and finds the good in life.  But, when one is idle, having too much time on his hands, one can start nitpicking others, nitpicking life, developing a critical condemning spirit.  Put your hand to the plow and don’t look back.  If you cannot find anything to do, then find someone else that you can help, working for them.  I would rather work, read, think, and learn for free, rather than get paid to be idle. The toughest times in my own life have always been a result of self centeredness, and a corresponding lack of productivity.  I’ve had to discipline myself to keep my focus on others, enjoying the process of productive work.  So many people, have been fooled by the lie, that, if they won the lottery, quitting their job, and focusing only on their own happiness, that life would be complete.  I can assure you, that life is complete only when you are aiding in the completion of other lives.  Working hard in a worthy cause, completes yourself through helping to complete others.  Remaining idle is a recipe for physical and mental disaster.   

Lastly, the people with the most consistent, positive attitudes are people with a purpose.  Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, described that our mission in life wasn’t invented more than it was detected.  Each of us was created for a purpose, but until we start serving and learning, it’s not going hit us upside the head while watching television.  One must get out into the world, focusing on serving others, detecting the purposes and joy created when making a difference in others lives.  I believe that human beings were made in the image of God, having incredible gifts and talents, that we are created an original, like no other human being in the history of the world.  Our lives have meaning and purpose, detecting that purpose, producing results, and sharing with our gifts with others in need, is the goal of every life well lived.  Life is a gift given from above, what a shame that most of us give it back unopened.  The goal of this book is to help provide the hunger in you to open your gift of life and share the fruits of it with the world. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

One Response to “Attitude Determines Altitude”

  1. […] 2008 « Attitude Determines Altitude Work Ethic – Excellence or Existence? […]

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