The Barometer Of Success
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” – Dale Carnegie
The American motivational speaker Denis Waitley once said: “Your attitude is either the lock on, or the key to the door of success.” That passage is the inspiration for this article, owing to its message of self-ownership. I consider the Self to be the key to the door of success, an attribute successful people recognise because of years having toiled away in their respective fields. The Self is the enduring psyche hidden beneath the ego. Call it spirit or soul, yet many recognise this timeless quality as the core to one’s success. It was the American self-help author Napoleon Hill who wrote in Think and Grow Rich: “Remember, too, that all who succeed in life get off to a bad start, and pass through many heartbreaking struggles before they arrive. The turning point in the lives of those who succeed usually comes at the moment of some crisis, through which they are introduced to their ‘other selves’.”
The alternate self he speaks of is the Higher Self, perceived to be in union with an infinite source. It is whereby an extra hand seemingly guides our steps throughout life. However, one of the greatest attributes to success, apart from the Higher Self, is our attitude. A positive attitude is not enough because it can be feigned, it is something more profound and constant. A deeper realisation that we will prevail against the odds, despite outer conditions. Our attitude serves as the barometer of success. Whilst motivation, determination and courage are admirable qualities, without the right attitude they are an ember without a flame to light the way.
Temperament, Not Intelligence
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”— Zig Ziglar
I’m drawn to a passage by author Charles R. Swindoll who wrote in Strengthening Your Grip of the need to develop an unwavering attitude in light of our challenges: “I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.” Attitude provides the altitude for our dreams, goals and achievements. It infuses them with a commitment to excellence, perseverance and a determined resolve to act in the face of fear. Attitude is a temperament that helps us conquer our emotional self. Our EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is the measurement of our capacity to endure adverse conditions.
The British-born American investor Benjamin Graham once claimed: “Individuals who cannot master their emotions are ill-suited to profit from the investment process.” Similarly, Warren Buffett considers one’s temperament, not intelligence to be responsible for managing wealth. He believes most people’s emotional intelligence can deal with a twenty percent growth in wealth or a twenty percent loss. Any more or less requires unwavering emotional resilience. It is the same story told of lottery winners who are worse off within five to ten years after their win because they lack the emotional means to manage their finances. Attitude is everything. Attitude engenders our response to life’s circumstances.
An Attitude Of Readiness
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston S. Churchill
The right attitude leads to empowering emotions essential for success. Our thoughts and beliefs are the engines that breed the right attitude. Life is fickle and uncompromising. Yet interspersed throughout these moments are the tiny treasures reminding us that the struggle is also the culmination of healthy ideals leading to success. We must temper our attitude and master our inner growth, not for what it brings to our life, but because of who we become when success shows up. I realise maintaining a positive attitude is challenging because life will break our spirit and crush our soul, even those with the noblest intent. Consider the Navy Seals BUD/S training, which has an attrition rate of 80 percent of candidates. It is for good reason the attrition rate is high because the process eliminates those incapable of developing the right attitude and emotional resilience in critical field operations. The BUD/S training serves as a metaphor for life, where those who fail to reach their goals are unable to embrace failure, defeat and setbacks. Therefore, we ought to cultivate an attitude of readiness, grit and a strong temperament. For when the time is right, the key to the door of success will be close at hand.