There is an old cliché that says, ‘your attitude determines your altitude’. In other words, when you work at making sure you maintain a positive, giving and pro-active attitude it helps determine how high and how far you will go in life. I would like to add that your attitude also determines whether you finish well in life or not.
Circumstances and other people’s actions are often not within your control. However, your attitude is totally within your control. Although certain people and circumstances may ‘trigger’ you, ultimately, no-one else but you can determine your attitude.
To maintain a positive, giving and proactive attitude in life:
- Is challenging and requires continual vigilance
- Will involve some tough decisions e.g. may mean cutting some people (or at least their voices) out of your life.
- Will mean continually wrestling yourself to ensure you never develop a ‘victim’ or a ‘poor me’ mindset.
- You need to find a way to process regrets and deal with failure. Everyone has things they regret. Ruminating on regret is self-defeating.
- Will mean you learn to forgive rather than hold onto offences and become bitter. E.g. I choose to believe that everyone who deals with me is doing the best they can, even if they let me down or do things that hurt me. It is my forgiveness frame.
Attitude is more important to a successful and fulfilled life than skills or ability or experience.
Explanation of the Model for Finishing Well:
- Those who continually work on their attitude and remain positive, giving and active will be either an overcomer or a contributor. Both are likely to finish well.
- The person who maintains a positive attitude despite major limitations in life is inspirational. The greatest human stories that inspire us come from the lives of people who have overcome adversity. People admire and love them.
- The person of high capacity who has a positive, giving and proactive attitude in life is that person who is often stepping up to do the extra things that make a workplace or a community or a family function. They love to contribute and to make a difference. They are fulfilled in the service of others. People celebrate and love them.
- For those who lose the struggle within and become negative, taking and passive in their attitude to life, will become either a defeated pauper or a bored grumbler (a ‘grumpy old bastard’). Both make it hard for people to love them and are less likely to finish well.
- The person who loses their way during life’s battles can become stuck in a negative mindset. They come to feel like victims in life. A sense of powerlessness and defeat that seeps into every part of their life. They decide at some level that they have nothing to give. They feel like paupers. Many become angry or depressed. They envy others who seem to be doing well. A sense of entitlement often develops. People pity them.
- The person who has good health and capacity but has become self-focused and cynical withdraws into their own world. Grumblers become negative about the world around them and unwilling to serve or give to others. For a variety of reasons, they decide to play a very safe and small game in life. They struggle to find purpose. They become grumpy old men and women who push relationships and community away. People tolerate them.
To finish well in life, your attitude is more important than your health or your circumstances.
A person who works hard on maintaining a positive, giving and pro-active attitude can be an inspiring overcomer even if they are unhealthy or have had major tragedy in their life. People will want to spend time with them. They will have family and friends who will be there for them to the end. They will be remembered fondly when they are gone. For a great example of an overcomer, check out this TedX talk by cystic fibrosis sufferer, Claire Wineland.
Alternatively, a person with good health and high capacity can fail to finish well if they become bored and grumpy. Or a person who loses the struggle with their attitude can be reduced to a pauper in life.
If you want to finish your life loved and celebrated by those close to you, it will have far more to do with your attitude than your wealth or intelligence or accomplishments. If you want to be pitied and tolerated, then your attitude doesn’t much matter
Only you can determine whether you live a great life and finish well.