Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. – John Wooden
What does that mean?
Is the glass half empty or half full? Do you cry and complain about how things worked out, or do you play the hand you are dealt to the best of your ability? To me, this saying says to take what you get and work it to the best of your ability. That is the way to get ahead.
You can have the results you want, if you are willing to take what you get and make the most of it. You might not get what you want exactly when you want it, but you will definitely get it ahead of the person who doesn’t work as hard, as diligently, or with as much focus. It’s all about your attitude towards life.
Why is attitude important?
Most people don’t have the good fortune of having everything work out exactly as planned every single time. Yes, having wealth and power and privilege help, but even then, things will go sideways from time to time. So what really separates those who get things and those who whine about how unfair life has been to them? Some make lemonade when life gives them lemons, others complain about having lemons instead of cherries.
Your attitude towards life will have an immense impact on how much enjoyment you get out of life. Some people are grumpy, others are stoic. Some are enthusiastic, some to the point of air-headed-ness (is that a word?). Most of us are somewhere in between, with the exact location changing at least a little each day. In which end of the spectrum (and I acknowledge that this is overly simplistic model) would you rather live? Which end will be more helpful in getting you to where you want to be? That is something you might want to think about.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Do you have a good attitude, or do you just have an attitude? Sometimes things will turn out well, but there will be the other times. What do you do then? Do you curl up in a ball and suck your thumb? Most likely not. But there are times when it’s hard to get back up, dust yourself off, and get back to it. So what helps you get back up when you’ve been knocked down?
Think about it. Come up with a couple of cases when you’ve been knocked down, but have managed to get back up and do what needs to be done. Write down at least three, but preferred more. For each, try to determine what was the most important thing that got you going again. Was it guts, a refusal to fail, or was the prize waiting at the end worth it? Was it a personal challenge to do it, no matter what?
The three biggest knock-downs I experienced were the “career” ending injury in football, failing out of college and the loss of my first marriage.
For the first, I had REALLY wanted to play. And I did play, for a while. A growth disorder damaged the ligaments in my knees and ankles and the doctor pulled the plug. What did I do? This was back in Junior High School (early in the 8th grade), and I could still do moderate physical activity. Gym class and tag on the playground were my physical therapy.
I ended up trying a bunch of other things, but swimming ended up being the activity I turned to instead. I’d been really into swimming for quite a while, but never as a competitive sport. With football out, I then channeled my competitiveness into swimming. Not that it helped much, I was still only mediocre, but it was challenging none the less. The attitude that helped me was that I knew I could still do things, that I had outlets and ways of getting exercise even if I couldn’t play football. It might have crushed a dream, but not my spirit.
Failing out of College was a personal failing. After a couple good semesters, I got interested in partying and in girls. School work ended up a distant third place in my priority list. That came to a crashing end when the school asked me to take a semester off and re-think my life. Needless to say, my parents weren’t too thrilled, but I put them at ease by already having signed up for classes in the local junior college and contacting my summer job to see what could be done to get me back on the payroll.
I applied myself at both my classes and my job (after being recommended to another company) and things were looking up. I took the re-entrance exams and blew them away. I knew what I wanted and those tests stood between me and my goal. KaPOW! Not that the story ends with me pulling straight A’s, but my GPA did go up quite a bit. The attitude that helped me here was that I screwed up and was going to make it good. No matter what, I was getting back in and finishing.
The loss of my first marriage was quite a blow. I’d never failed so completely in my life. In retrospect, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t pick a compatible mate, I didn’t know how to work as part of a couple, and I had no idea how to be a husband. When the wheels fell off, I was glad to be out of the situation. I’ve come to realize, after years of study and practice, that it was the perfect experience for me. I had to learn a lot about myself and that was a very compelling laboratory setting. Part of what I learned was that my ex and I were incompatible in far too many ways, and neither one of us was willing to change enough to make things work again.
But I didn’t give up. I knew somewhere out there was a comparable person. I just had my eyes opened, so I took to writing down all the things that my ideal person would be and would not be. Everything from attitude towards life, approach to problem solving, how they managed anger and their core personal values. With that clarity, I found someone who met all of the gotta-have traits with none of the deal-breaker traits. A blindingly swift three years later, we were married. The attitude that carried me through this life event was that it was a learning experience. I found out what I needed to do to improve me, and what I needed to find in any future wife.
How is your list coming? Have you got a bunch of cases yet? Do you have some ideas as to what attitude you had that made the situation bearable? What did you focus on, do or think get back up and to keep going despite the trouble you were having? Do you see a pattern in the attitudes? Do you have an attitude that is your most effective?
Do you think that you could make a phrase or saying that will help you get into that mindset? If your attitude was something along the lines of having an indomitable spirit, you might say “it ain’t over until I win!” If it was personal toughness, perhaps something simple like “gut check time” would work. Your attitude will be your greatest asset in a troubling situation, having a way to call on a good attitude would be an invaluable asset.
I think that’s something worth thinking about.
From: Twitter, @Sports_Greats
confirmed at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnwooden120997.html
Photo by sha_junglii