No matter who you are or what you do, everyone goes through life experiences that require us to be resilient. Some people build strength and determination from these experiences; others let difficulties take them down. Who we are and who we let ourselves become is determined to a large extent by the attitudes we maintain. A poor attitude breeds negativity and disappointment. A positive attitude looks at the cards you’ve been dealt, regardless of how ugly they may be, and relentlessly searches for a way to play them – always looking for anything positive, always pursuing opportunities for growth. It’s not lost on me that some people face greater challenges than others – or certainly than me. But speaking from personal experiences, my attitude has always impacted my leadership style, the way I approach challenges and, ultimately, the way I live my life.
Failures that have shaped me
My childhood dream to be a professional football player was abruptly dashed by a career ending knee injury while playing in college. One of my most promising business ventures after I left law enforcement became the most significant challenge of my business career. I purchased a real estate development and construction company back in 2006. Unfortunately, the housing market tanked shortly thereafter. I wracked my brain trying to find a way to salvage the company and earn a return on my investment. However, in one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make, I eventually had to accept the fact – the brutal fact – that I was out of options. Failure is never an option for me. But I had failed, plain and simple.
So, after investing nearly all of my net worth into this company, it was a complete financial loss and a big hit to my confidence. It’s an experience that could have sent me on a downward spiral. Instead, it taught me valuable lessons, not about business but about personal defeat, loss and what it takes to recover. For me, I learned the fear of failing to try is far greater than the fear of failing. Effort is the one thing I know I can control – that thought alone keeps me motivated. I knew then that effort and attitude would get me through future challenges I was sure would come.
Ask anyone you know, and I’ll bet they have faced failure or hardship in their life. And if they’re standing in front of you talking about their struggles, then guess what? They survived it. Everyone has their own battles to fight, their own wars to wage, but almost everyone has faced a challenge and come out the other side. And if you can do it once, you can do it again. The worst of times eventually come to an end. And these times can make us stronger, more resilient people, if we face them head on with stubborn determination.
Bad attitudes find excuses. Positive attitudes open doors.
I believe our ability to overcome tough times largely depends on our attitude. Having a good attitude means believing in ourselves even when others don’t. A positive attitude promotes perseverance, endurance and triumph. In both my personal and professional life, I try my best to be mentally prepared to always “do” – never considering the “don’t” or “can’t.” This can-do attitude has played a major role in my life – from raising two wonderful kids to leading a global professional services organization.
With the mindset that challenges can’t be overcome or that they’ll be too difficult to accomplish, things don’t get done. But, if we wholeheartedly believe in our abilities by staying positive and open-minded, those challenges turn into temporary obstacles you’ll soon conquer.
In my line of work, I’m confronted with challenges all the time. Leading a large, diverse organization that serves a wide variety of companies across disparate industries, I spend much of my time thinking about ways to overcome emerging challenges and innovate to stay ahead of clients’ needs. Leadership roles, while fulfilling and often stimulating, can also cause a lot of stress. It’s easy to burn out faster or harder than those in other lines of work. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain a positive, forward-thinking attitude.
I’m committed to approaching challenges with an optimistic outlook so they don’t negatively impact my mental well-being and state of mind. I remind myself, in the face of hardships and bad news, that I have handled worse before. I tackle problems – from my days in law enforcement all the way through my business career – with a stubborn and relentless optimism and positive attitude. It doesn’t come easy, but I never let myself lose this focus.
Impacting the world around us.
It’s been a hard year. Challenges are all around us. But, by making a concerted effort to maintain a positive attitude, we can positively impact others. While focusing on our own attitude, it’s also important to consider this effect on others. Whether it’s a close friend, colleague or stranger, everyone faces struggles that are not immediately obvious. The challenges of the past year have put a lot of pressure on people, and I’m aware that not everyone has a positive outlook at the moment. But by approaching others with a positive attitude, I’m deliberately choosing to show kindness and optimism – and I don’t think I’d be alone in arguing that this approach can play a huge role in improving someone else’s attitude.
Experiences shape who we are. Yet, at the same time, we control our own attitudes. You may not be able to control what happens around you, but you can control your attitude and how you respond to those things. Waking up in the morning and choosing to approach a situation with a negative attitude is just making the decision to be unhappy that day. So, choose positivity. Be stubbornly optimistic. Approach every problem with an open mind. Make an effort to confront your challenges with energy and forward-looking optimism, and you will start to notice a change in how things (both big and small) play out in your life.