It is all in the Attitude

I have said this before and I will say it again – your success or failure is all in your attitude towards it. If the tape that plays in your head unconsciously delivers a negative message, then failure is all you will encounter. Change that message to a positive one and success is yours. Of course you have to know what success means to you. How do YOU define success? What would you have to achieve to know that you have arrived?

Success for me is having a good work/life balance, to be able to enjoy my work, to work with a fantastic boss (as I have now), to love my work but to love returning home even more. Success is when home is where the heart is, when it’s filled with people who I want to go back to at the end of the day. Success is having a strong network of friends and family who stand by me and see me through life, they witness my life as I witness theirs, with love and care. Financially success is to make enough money to be able to travel whenever I want, to remain out of debt, to have enough emergency funds to tide me over for 6 months if ever I cannot work for that time period. These are the things that define success for me, not owning a house or the latest model of a car. Success for me is all about being satisfied and happy inside myself.

The story below is a good illustration of how much your internal dialogue – that tape that plays inside your head subconsciously – can affect your success.

A for Attitude

By Linda O’Connell

Four things for success: work and pray, think and believe.
~Norman Vincent Peale

English was always my favorite subject. I “got” it, unlike math. In my freshman year of high school, I could write a killer composition and diagram a sentence with surgical precision. In my sophomore year, my teacher allowed me to give spelling tests to the class. I have wonderful memories of my junior year. Mrs. Alexander appointed me to sit at her desk and present the lesson when she had to leave the room. My senior English class was distressing, as it was very small and we had a teacher right out of college who stated that she expected college-level work. Every student received a C or D grade the first quarter. She wanted us to work hard for our grade, and we did. But English was still my subject.

I graduated high school, married early, had children and raised a family. I composed long letters and beautiful poetry. I wrote complaint letters to corporations that got results. I helped my kids with their compositions and English homework and I did my former husband’s college-level English assignments. After all, English had always been my best subject. I was an A student, I told my family. Why, my teacher allowed me to take over her class when I was in high school!

Fifteen years later, I went to college, and because I had been an A student, I remained an A student. I lived up to my own expectations.

Recently, decades later, I was rummaging through old papers when I discovered my high school report cards. Holding that bundle of report cards brought back the smell of waxed hallways, chalk dust and Miss R’s flowery perfume. I remembered sitting in my advisor’s office explaining that I had always excelled at English, complaining that I did not deserve a D from that inexperienced teacher my senior year. The counselor empathized but was unable to change a grade.

Flipping through my old report cards revealed something else too. I wanted to shred them or at least hide them. I was not an A student in high school English! Somehow, I had convinced myself of this, when the grades clearly reflected an average student with an occasional A or B, but mostly C’s.

Had I lived up to those grades and defined myself based on those letters, I would have never confidently pursued my successful freelance writing career. I would have ridiculed myself: “Who do you think you are calling yourself a writer? Actually submitting to publications?” Had I believed in my early grades instead of myself, I would have allowed my fear of failure to defeat my enthusiasm and paralyze my creativity. Instead, I viewed my younger self as an A English student. Except for that one undeserved D.


Posted on October 24, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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