The opportunities

Change is always in our midst.

The choice on when to change our attitude is a personal one. When we’ve made that choice, there are five “opportunities” that Maxwell points out around us, that make this decision a success.

I will rewrite parts of it for easy recall.

1. The friend

We need one another.  Few people are successful unless a lot of people want them to be.  Change has a tendency to intimidate us.  Add to that intimidation the realisation that we have a long way to go before proper attitudes are established.

To help overcome this feeling of inadequacy, you need the help of a friend.

The real friend is the one who does not take advantage of that relationship.  Remember, we can never do anything for others that will not have some eventual benefits for ourselves.  There is a law of life that will, in time, return good for good.  Therefore, enlisting someone’s help will not only assist you, but it will also give a friend a blessing in return.

2. The associate

There are two keys to determine who we are: (1) who we perceive ourselves to be and (2) who we associate with.

Birds of a feather do flock together.  From friends, we acquire many of our thoughts, mannerisms, and characteristics.  Changing an attitude from negative to positive often requires changing friendships.  It is no accident that kids with good grades run around with other kids with good grades.

Many times people blame circumstances for their problems.  But usually it is the crowd we run with, not the circumstances we encounter, that makes the difference in our lives.  Good circumstances with bad friends result in defeat.  Bad circumstances with good friends result in victory.

When people who you “trust” pull you down because they have their own agenda or their own ghosts of the past to live with in order to survive, they are not good associates. They are bad people who will let you hang yourselves to dry when they don’t need you anymore.

3. The model

Communicators say that 90% of what we learn is visual, 9% is audio, and 1% comes through the other senses.  Our dependence on the eyes to learn, no doubt, is at least partially a result of television in our culture.  Visual messages last longer than those we just hear.  You could select someone to follow who would give you a constant visualisation of what you want to become.  Making a single decision to alter an attitude is not enough.  To achieve the kind of life you want, you must act, walk, talk, and conduct yourself as the ideal person that you visualise yourself to be.

Our children and the youth, more often than not, have parents as their role model.  We start them young – as the posters say it.  The apple, after all, does not fall far from the tree.  What we become, what our children become, what the nation becomes – is a reflection of who leads and how we influence our children as well.  The future started yesterday.

4. The mistake

The first instant an idea is conceived is a moment of decision.  When an opportunity of growth is opened to you, what do you tell yourself? In that moment, you choose between success and failure.

You cannot control all circumstances.  You cannot always make right decisions that bring right results.  But you can always learn from your mistakes.

We are all human and mistakes will always be the best teacher. Acknowledging that we are wrong is the lesson learned. And there is no shame in that. Pride, after all, can be swallowed without loss.

5. The experience

It takes five positive experiences to overcome one negative situation.  When faced with the possibility of failure, our tendency is to sit back and be anxious.  Fear is nature’s warning signal to get busy.  We overcome it by a successful action.

Nothing intimidates us more than constant exposure to failure.  Nothing motivates us more than constant exposure to success.  People change more quickly if they are continually given situations in which they can be successful.

We need to value other people’s worth. No one wants to work in a continuously negative environment. It is not only inhumane but tiring as well. No one wins a war. We are all losers.

The mistake

The choice of the attitude is ours to own.  We need to take full responsibility – whether you’re a pauper or a king.  And while it can be changed from time to time or situation to situation, it is our personal choice in making that decision.

…the moment we are born excited family members press their noses against the nursery window in the hospital and being playing the game, “Who does he look like?” After much discussion, it is decided that their red-faced, wrinkly, toothless baby looks like “Uncle Harry”.

The labelling of the little child increases as her personality develops.  That is a normal human reaction.  We all do it.  It becomes hurtful, however, when we start placing limitations on our child because he is a “C” student, a “fair” runner, or a “plain” child.  Unless parents exercise care, their children will grow up selling themselves short because of the “box” parents have put them in, the expectations parents have placed upon them.

In the Netflix movie, Sierra Burgess is a Loser, the protagonists in the film portray various attitudes – from being mean to being ideal.  It’s a simple storyline that brings home the message of costly mistakes people make when constructing an attitude.  People change – whether it is due to environmental factors or peer pressure – we all have crosses to bear and personal crossroads in life.

What are a person’s capabilities? No one knows.  Therefore, no one should be consciously instilling life-limiting thoughts onto others.  Many years ago, Johnny Weissmuller, also known as Tarzan to movie viewers, was called the greatest swimmer the world has ever known.  Doctors and coaches around the world said, “Nobody will ever break Johnny Weissmuller’s records.” He held more than fifty of them! Do you know who is breaking Tarzan’s records today? Thirteen-year-old girls! The 1936 Olympic records were the qualifying records for the 1972 Olympics.


An elephant can easily pick up a one-ton load with his trunk.  But have you ever visited a circus and watched these huge creatures standing quietly tied to a small wooden stake?

While still young and weak, an elephant is tied by a heavy chain to an immovable iron stake.  He discovers that no matter how hard he tries, he cannot break the chain or move the stake.  Then, no matter how large and strong the elephant becomes, he continues to believe he cannot move as long as he sees the stake in the ground beside him.

Many intelligent adults behave like the circus elephant.  They are restrained in thought, action, and results.  They never move further than the boundaries of self-imposed limitation.

Edgar A. Guest wrote:

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,

But he with a chuckle replied

That maybe it couldn’t, but he would be one.

Who wouldn’t say no till he tried…

Just start to sing as you tackle the thing

That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

The choices

Continuing on the attitude is the choice of what kind of attitude to take?

The word choices rises on the opposite side of environment in the attitude construction issue. Speaking more logically than emotionally, the voice of this word says, “We are free to choose our attitudes”. This logic becomes more convincing with the additional voice of Victor Frankl, survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, who said, “The last of the human freedom is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

In our early years, our attitudes are determined mainly by our conditions. A baby does not choose her family or her environment, but as her age increases, so do her options.

Hence, our surroundings help construct our attitudes.

The basic principles about attitude formation are:

1. A child’s formative years are the most important for instilling the right attitudes.

2. An attitude’s growth never stops.

3. The more our attitude grows on the same foundation, the more solid it becomes.

4. Many specialists help construct our attitudes at a certain time and place.

5. There is no such thing as a perfect, flawless attitude.

The fifth is my favorite and, in my opinion, stands out as the most important principle (although they are all intertwined).

The air currents of life jolt us out of life and try to keep us from achieving our goals. Unexpected weather can change our direction and strategy. Our attitudes need adjustment with every change that comes into our lives.

Everyone encounters storms in life that threaten to wreck his attitude. The secret to safe arrival is to continually adjust your perspective.

Every day is a new encounter. A new adjustment. A new beginning.

How we take accountability on the choices we make determine the kind of attitude we have chosen to tread the path to. Those nights where we sleep better with the decisions made, that’s what steers our moral compass.

The attitude

Dr Shirard Adiviso and the Development Team of Asian Hospital recently gave me a book entitled “How High Will You Climb?” by John C. Maxwell.

I had a little time to read this 160pp book during my short travel for a speaking engagement. It’s a highly engaging read and one of the highlights of the book is on attitude.

That inward feeling expressed by behavior. It can be seen without even having to utter a word. As Maxwell put it well, “of all the things we wear, our expressions are the most important.”

The next few blogs will center on a few good points about attitude that I’m sharing with you.  One of the important axioms of attitude lies in what Maxwell points out as: Our attitude can turn our problems into blessings.

In Awake, My Heart, my friend J. Sidlow Baxter writes, “What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity?  Our attitude toward it.  Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.”

When confronted with a difficult situation, a person with an outstanding attitude makes the best of it while he gets the worse of it.  Life can be likened to a grindstone.  Whether it grinds you down or polishes you depends on what you are made of.

Few people knew Abraham Lincoln until the great weight of the Civil War showed his character.  Robinson Crusoe was written in prison.  John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress in the Bedford jail.  Sir Walter Raleigh wrote The History of the World during a thirteen-year imprisonment.  Luther translated the Bible while confined in the castle of Wartburg.  Beethoven was almost totally deaf and burdened with sorrow when he produced his greatest works.

When God wants to educate a man, He does not send him to the school of graces but to the school of necessities.  Through the pit and the dungeon, Joseph came to the throne.  Moses tended sheep in the desert before God called him for service.  Peter, humbled and broken by his denial of Christ, heeded the command to “Feed My sheep”.

Great leaders emerge when crises occur.  In the lives of people who achieve, terrible troubles force them to rise above the commonplace.  Not only do they find the answers, but they discover a tremendous power within themselves.  Like a groundswell far out in the ocean, this force within explodes into a mighty wave when circumstances seem to overcome.  Then out steps the athlete, the author, the statesman, the scientist, or the businessman. David Sarnoff said, “There is plenty of security in the cemetery.  I long for opportunity.”

Today, at the crossroads of the economy and politics in the Philippines, we need to make sure that we keep our integrity and principles in serving the people.

The lost. The least. The last.

We need to make sure that our attitude is one where it is not self-serving.  Like the plane that takes off against the wind, where the turbulence is part of the climb, the noise we hear and feel are just part of the political climate.

We cannot (and should not) mix politics with personal gains.  In the end, a nation of hungry people creates masses that are discontented with governance and will pay a price dearly. At what cost is human life worth?

It’s all in the attitude.