Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 23:21:00 11/14/2010
We may not be able to change where we come from, but at any time we have the power to change where we go.
Let me tell you about positive attitude from my experience.
I started a life with a very negative outlook. Indeed! In my desire to improve my conditions and those around me, I acted as a critic not just of myself but also of people around me. After all, it’s said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In the end, I not only failed to raise my standards, but people were unhappy with me and I was unhappy with myself! My civic work, family and Church offered little help to clarify my situation. Even now, students do not take up positive attitude in school.
Norman Vincent Peale
With this disposition, you can imagine how the 1952 book of Norman Vincent Peale, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” so impressed me. Here are quotes that kept me strong after college:
“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy.”
“When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”
“Never talk defeat. Use words like hope, belief, faith, victory.”
“You can if you think you can!”
Robert H. Schuller
Then, I moved on to Robert H. Schuller who influenced my early years at entrepreneurship with his “Possibility Thinking.” Here are his thoughts that keep my heart warm when it gets cold outside.
“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”
“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”
“Any fool can count the seeds in an apple. Only God can count all the apples in one seed.”
Much later, John Maxwell’s books guided me in exercising leadership with 200 people on regular status under my care. I found these treasures in his books:
“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.”
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
“Your success stops where your character stops. You can never rise above the limitations of your character.”
“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Then the thoughts of Stephen Covey on abundance mentality made bright my days as my company grew to more than 400 people:
There is so much to be shared in life. Look for its abundance, not its scarcity. When we share life’s abundance, we grow with others and they grow with us.
Here’s a paraphrase:
Meron ako, wala ka, share tayo.
Meron lahat tayo!
Wala ako, meron ka, share tayo.
Meron lahat tayo!
Meron ako, meron ka, share tayo.
Lubos lahat tayo!
“The pen is mightier than the sword.” This is why I write. Can you feel the spirit moving with all these thoughts? Can you see how the spirit of good attitude can be mightier than even the pen?
A common definition
If good attitude is so important, then we must define it and not leave its application to chance.
Remez Sasson defines it in his Internet article: “Positive thinking is a mental attitude that admits into the mind thoughts, words and images that are conducive to growth, expansion and success.”
I grew with these thoughts but had to struggle with three concerns.
First, even gangsters can apply such positive attitude at work and succeed! Why, I thought, if I had to change, I’d rather change for the better, not for the worse!
Second, positive thinking can be misconstrued as wishful thinking, braggadocio, losing touch with reality.
A man who aspires to rise above a difficult situation needs to be firmly grounded on reality. He is able to discern the quality of action leading to his aspiration and to take this kind of action from day to day.
In other words, good attitude, if it is truly good, may be translated to specific types of action that lead to success. Otherwise, such attitude is mental gymnastics, a self-delusion.
Third, at every step of any undertaking, how can we know if we’re moved by good attitude or negative attitude? If we’re not careful, we can fool even ourselves!
Evil minds can masquerade negative attitude as positive attitude to attract people to their way of thinking and behaving. Watch political ads in elections!
Define negative attitude
I thought that to clarify what positive attitude was, it would be helpful to define negative attitude. I then had to consider all life’s nasty realities which make retreats necessary.
As shown in any altercation among people in unruly traffic, bad attitudes are human acts arising from uncontrolled anger, pride, laziness, envy, gluttony, greed, lust.
They result in a hardened heart and sickness inside.
Go back to your past experiences of bad attitudes. Test them against this definition.
Define good attitude
Then, I studied the opposite of these seven characteristics.
They are love, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, humility and self-control. Here are two, more—joy and peace.
Note the difference. Good attitude inspires; bad attitude depresses.
Let us put this distinction to a test. Would you know why the following examples inspire?
Now that we have defined good attitude, we can measure every act, every thought, every goal in accordance with what good attitude is before we launch ourselves into it.
If you know an action or event would give rise to a bad attitude or be motivated by it, would you still proceed?
We do not have to reinvent the wheel. The spirit of good attitude has been around for thousands of years, although it might not have been termed good attitude then.
Here’s the inspired reference on attitudes, Galatians 5:19-23, my source for their definition. This definition is so full of common sense that we don’t have to be Christians to believe it.
Good attitude is the key to competitiveness. It is the road of hope—the road less traveled.
But have faith and be discerning. It is the road to success. Take it.
(The writer is an entrepreneur, and author of the books “The Peso ExchangeRate: Why Are We So Poor?” and “The Philippine Economy: Do Our Leaders Have A Clue?” Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. For previous articles, please visit map.org.ph.)