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Philip E. Humbert, PhD

Author - Speaker

Personal Coach

Chapter 10:
The Most Valuable Key is FREE!

In the past few weeks, we have worked through nine of the 10 "Golden Keys" to total success, and we've now arrived at the most important key of all.  I consider it to be the easiest to acquire, the most valuable to possess, and the most difficult to maintain.

In my opinion, there is no skill, no talent, no opportunity, and no adversity that even comes close to this one.  The most critical factor in determining your future success is your daily attitude!

If you doubt that, even for a moment, consider this.   If you were hiring someone, would you choose a talented, highly educated person with a negative, miserable attitude, or an eager young kid with no skills and no training, but a world of enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn?  Faced with that choice, I'll take enthusiasm every time!

Unusually successful people know that "Your attitude determines your altitude."  They know that success, wealth and achievement come to those whose hearts are large enough to contain them.  They expect the best, and they live each day to the fullest.

We all know this!  We've read it, heard it, and reminded ourselves, our children and our co-workers of it a hundred times!

Optimism beats pessimism, every time!

But what, exactly, does it mean to have an attitude that attracts and creates success?  And secondly, how do I develop and maintain that attitude?

Let's begin by talking about some of the things it is NOT.   A positive, optimistic attitude takes nothing for granted.  It is not nave, and it is not simplistic.  There is no virtue - in business or in life - in walking around ignoring reality!

Ironically, I think the attitude that creates success revels in challenges.  It loves to solve problems, and enjoys hearing about and understanding the things that can (and might) go wrong!  Highly successful people are intensely "reality based".  They know that while things can and will go wrong, most of the time things work out well.  Statistically, most of the time the bills get paid, we get along with our neighbors, we achieve our most important goals, and we develop the life we really want.  They have observed, in a very hard-nosed way, that the things they COMMIT TO ACHIEVING are almost always possible.

Secondly, highly successful people, are totally pragmatic.   They go where the answers are, they find the solutions, they change what isn't working and find the tools, the partners, ideas and systems that work!  This is obvious!  It is hard to have a positive attitude about banging your head against the same brick wall, over and over again!  Successful people find a solution!

Part of maintaining a positive, success-oriented attitude is to make sure you are successful in the details of life!  This goes back to our discussion of eliminating the frustrations and irritations you tolerate every day.   Successfully hire a housekeeper!  Successfully find a mechanic to fix your car!  Successfully replace that computer, or learn to use it effectively! Success breeds success, in part because it creates a joy, optimism and excitement that propel you forward.

Someone has said, "It's difficult to soar with the eagles if you're scratching in the dust with turkeys."  Highly effective people spend very little time permitting their attitudes to be dragged in the dust by small failures.  Be pragmatic, find solutions to the little things.  It will create the thrust to drive you on to much larger, more important successes! 

Thirdly, successful people are extremely clear about what they choose to think about, and who they associate with.  There is a famous quote from Viktor Frankl. Dr Frankl was an inmate in a Nazi death camp during World War II and he lived through the worst conditions any human being could experience.  He survived, and wrote an incredible book called, "Man's Search for Meaning", in which he says "The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances."

Highly successful people choose their attitudes in every circumstance!  They rarely talk about the weather, unless it's "beautiful".   They don't talk about their aches and pains, and they spend little time worrying about the stock market, gossip, or the criticism of others.  Instead, they choose to focus on things that will help them achieve their most important goals.

In some ways, I'm a "born pessimist".  I don't know why that is, but it's true.  Without discipline, without books and tapes and some time with my journal every day, I become mildly depressed. I'm not proud of that, but I'm no longer embarrassed about it, either.  It's simply true.  So, I studied people who are naturally more optimistic than I am, and I've copied the things that they do!

I read.  I laugh a lot!  I play - a lot!  I work hard, mostly at work I love.  And I hang out with the most talented, optimistic, enthusiastic, creative people I can find.  It's a lot of fun!  And, it serves as an antidote to depression.  It gets me up, it focuses my attention on finding answers, solving difficulties and moving forward.  It's how I create the life I want.

Your life is up to you!  It's the only shot you get at this thing. There are thousands upon thousands of good reasons - honest, solid reasons - to be optimistic, grateful, excited and active in creating the life you want. And, yes, there are reasons to be afraid.  Crime and illness are real, and bad things do happen to good people.

But it is your choice to decide whether you will focus on them and allow fear and pessimism and anxiety to rule your life!  For myself, I choose laughter, hope, optimism and what I believe to be a more accurate, realistic view of life.  For myself, I think the statistics justify my belief that the sun will rise again tomorrow morning, and I have decided to act accordingly!

As I said at the beginning of this article, I believe your own attitude, on a daily basis, is the most critical predictor of your future success.   And, you have the ability to choose your attitude in any given circumstance. Choose wisely!


Quotes of the Week:

"The environment you fashion out of your thoughts…your beliefs…your ideals…your philosophy…is the only climate you will ever live in." 
                                                 - Alfred A. Monapert

"Places and circumstances never guarantee happiness.   You must decide within yourself whether you want to be happy.  And once you've decided, happiness comes much easier." 
                                                 - Robert J. Hastings

"Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." 
                                                 - Abraham Lincoln

"Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew.  They're what make the instrument stretch -- what make you go beyond the norm." 
                                                 - Cycely Tyson

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Copyright 1999 by Philip E. Humbert. All Rights Reserved. May be freely copied and distributed as long as you include  the following information:  "The author is Philip E. Humbert, PhD.  His Internet site has many articles like this one, free reports, and a free motivational screensaver!  Visit him at:


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