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Developing a Winning Attitude

Posted by Larry Doyle on December 19, 2010 12:06 PM |

When launching Sense on Cents in early 2009, I very much hoped that people would view this site as a resource and a welcoming place. I have often thought that if even just one person benefits from my work and writing, then my mission will be complete.

The feedback I have received from many energizes me. I have periodically highlighted some of the feedback, especially if I believe others can benefit. In that vein, my adrenaline rushed the other day upon reading a comment left by a regular reader in response to my writing Gaining the Edge.

The reader’s message and then the ‘message within the message’ speak for themselves. I am at a loss for words–which does not happen often–so will allow this comment to speak for me.

LD, here’s a speech my son wrote for school, he’s in the 9th grade.

Upon my suggestion, he drew on the material on your blog to write his speech. I thought you might enjoy reading it and that you might gain some satifaction in knowing that your blog does impact peoples lives in a meaningful way. Happy holidays.

Developing a Winning Attitude

Every person needs to reach the point in their lives when they question who they are and who they will become. The consequence of developing a winning attitude is the achievement of established goals. Achieving goals leads to a happy, fulfilled life. The foundation of a winning attitude is a guiding set of principles that are aligned with a person’s conscience. Principles help us choose among the thousands of decisions each of us must make every day. Ray Dalia said “Time is like a river that will take you forward into encounters with reality that require you to make decisions, you can’t stop the movement down this river and you can’t avoid the encounters, you can only approach these encounters in the best way possible”. So, the question is, how do you put your best foot forward? Think about it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Who you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I can’t hear a word your saying”. Profound yes, but what does it mean? Well, if what you say has nothing to do with who we are, then who we are has more to do with how we think and feel. The topic of this speech is developing a winning attitude. I know, I know, it sounds simple, but if it’s so simple, why do most people look back upon their lives and think of all the things they should have done differently? Someday let’s hope we can look back upon our lives as a series of successes that leave us with a sense of contentment.

When we think about success, we don’t want to have to rely on luck, but on a strategy that can be used over and over again. A success strategy would involve goal setting and establishing action plans, but most importantly, it would involve developing a winning attitude. When you think about it, the reason most people fail is because they stop trying or fail to adapt when things change. A winning attitude gives you the energy and personal power to continue beyond the point where most people give up.

Can any of you guess what famous person this is? He failed at business at age 31, was defeated in a run for the state legislature, failed again in business, overcame the death of his wife, had a nervous breakdown, lost 3 congressional races, lost 2 U.S. Senate races, failed to become vice president, and finally, was elected President of the United States of America. The answer, Abraham Lincoln.

One of the most famous people known for strong principles was John Wooden. You may know him as the basketball coach at UCLA, where he became one of the most successful men’s basketball coaches of all time. Coach Wooden changed people’s lives by teaching them loyalty, teamwork and self sacrifice. Coach developed the “Pyramid of Success” which includes all his core principles. I have chosen some of Coach Wooden’s principles: honesty, integrity and cooperation to develop our formula for a winning attitude.

Another mentor, Ray Dalia, wrote an ebook called Principles. Mr. Dalia is listed on the Forbes 100 list of the richest people in the world in 2010. I have chosen Ray as a role model because he credits his success to his core principles. It’s interesting that Mr. Dalia requires every person who applies to work at his company, Bridgewater Associates, to agree to follow his principles or look for employment elsewhere. Mr. Dalia says there are five core actions necessary to develop a winning attitude: 1) A passion for what you want, 2) a belief that you will succeed. 3) a changeable roadmap for your actions, 4) a clear set of prioritized values and 5) an ability as a communicator that allows you to convince others to help you.

To become a more skillful communicator one can reference How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. My favorite sections: “Don’t criticize condemn, or complain”, “Become genuinely interested in other people”, “Let others feel the idea was theirs”, and “Give others a fine reputation to live up to”. All of these techniques help a person to become well liked and therefore a person other people are willing to help.

Developing a winning attitude is about developing an enabling belief system and “hardwiring” it into your psyche. The book, Think and Grow Rich provides just such a formula. One can become a positive person using positive self-talk and surround themselves with positive people who act as personal trainers. Developing one’s sub-conscious amazingly provides a 24 hour support system; this requires emotionally charged repetition of specific action plans and a promise to yourself to pursue lifelong self-improvement. You must also pledge to be willing to confront your fears and shortcomings and commit to rigorous self analysis through self awareness. A fully functional feedback loop, utilizing your support systems, creates positive change even when things aren’t going according to plan. Anthony Robbins said “The meaning of your communication is the response you get”, so you must develop an awareness of how others are responding to your actions.

The movie Point Break, starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, depicts many of the elements of my speech. In the beginning of the movie, Reeves expects to become a professional football player until he damages his knee playing in the Rose Bowl for Ohio State. Due to an extended rehab, Reeves is forced to establish new personal goals and decides to go to law school and become an FBI agent. Throughout the movie he displays all the aspects of a winning attitude as he successfully hunts down a group of bank robbers. In the end, he decides that being an FBI agent isn’t the right thing for him because he must compromise his most important principles: honesty, loyalty and integrity. Being dishonest with his girlfriend and betraying the trust of friends and coworkers becomes unacceptable to him.

Swayze also has a winning attitude. He chose to dedicate his life to becoming the best surfer he can be. The problem with Swayze, he finances his “endless summer” by robbing banks. It takes Reeves’ best effort and dogged persistence to catch Swayze. I believe Reeves could not help but be successful while Swayze was destined to fail because of a “principles deficit”. In the end, Swayze is forced to choose between a life in prison or certain death attempting to surf an enormous wave. He chooses a tragic death.

So what we learned is that life is what you make of it; if you choose success, it requires you to develop a carefully thought out written plan and a commitment to a positive, principles driven attitude. The five pillars of a successful attitude include 1)an intense desire to succeed, 2) a complete focus on your goals, 3) strict attention to the execution of your plan, 4) a method of evaluating your results, and 5) an ability to adapt to both change and failure. Ed Sekoya said “in the end, “everyone gets what they want out of life”. This means that if a person fails it’s because they wanted to fail, and they acted like a failure. The way you choose to live your life determines the level of happiness and success that you will experience.

I put all the concepts of a winning attitude into making this speech, I learned a lot from the process and I hope you enjoyed it. Now I challenge all of you to take what I said and put it into practice.

9th grade? How awesome!! Real wisdom and the essence of ‘sense on cents.’

I hope this young man’s speech touches you as it did me. As I share it with you, I hope you will feel compelled to share it with others. Now more than ever, America needs to work hard at ‘developing a winning attitude.’

I applaud this young man. I thank the reader for sharing his son’s wisdom.


Larry Doyle

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own and not those of Greenwich Investment Management. As President of Greenwich Investment Management, an SEC regulated privately held registered investment adviser, I am merely a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

Larry Doyle

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