We've all heard about it since we were young. We've heard it from parents, family, friends, teachers, and/or coaches who preached the importance of attitude.
Sometimes it takes a certain individual to have an impact in ways others cannot. Likely you have had someone in your life tell you the same thing you've heard countless times before, but for some reason it sticks. It sinks in. These people capture our respect. We feel they are deserving of our attention and we finally listen.
When it came to the importance of attitude, my Uncle Gene was just one person who made a big impact on my views. My uncle served in WWII and when he talked attitude, I listened.
It had everything to do with that fact that he embodied the message of "Attitude".
During his time serving in WWII, he was on a test flight near Foggia, Italy when a parachute flare bomb failed to release from his B-25. The bomb was hung near the rear hook on the shackle. With the safety wire pulled, the vane was able to spin freely. Realizing the danger of the situation, he climbed down into the bomb bay and, supporting himself with his elbows, he freed the bomb with his feet. For his actions he was awarded the Soldier's Medal for heroism. I have this medal in my bedroom to this day.
Now while his actions were awarded, it was his attitude
in that moment that was the clear defining factor.
He was no more physically capable than any others aboard that plane. As a member of the Air Force, these men all had to be in top physical condition to serve our country. It wasn't that he was any bigger or stronger than the next guy. Simply put, in that moment he displayed resourcefulness and selfless courage to step into that situation. His attitude dictated his actions. Because of his attitude and actions, he received recognition for what he accomplished.
In a world where accomplishments matter, attitude matters most.
So what are some key characteristics of the attitudes or mindsets which promote success, be it in sport or in life?
JoAnn Dahlkoetter, Ph.D., author of Your Performing Edge and an internationally recognized sports psychologist, has identified characteristics that make a champion athlete that are able to be developed by anyone who wants to excel in sport:
- Enthusiasm and Desire – Top athletes have a hunger, a fire inside which fuels their passion to achieve an important goal, regardless of their level of talent or ability.
- Courage to Succeed - It takes courage to sacrifice, to work out when you’re tired, to seek out tough competition, to stick to your program, to test your limits, and to overcome obstacles.
- Internal motivation and self-direction – Direction and drive need to come from within. The goals must be ones that you have chosen because that’s exactly what you want to be doing.
- Commitment to Excellence – Elite athletes know that to excel at their sport, they must decide to make it a priority in their life. They make an honest effort each day to be the best at what they do. At some point you must say, I want to be really good at this; I want this to work.
- Discipline, Consistency, Organization – Elite athletes love what they do and it is easier for them to maintain consistency in training and in competing. Regardless of personal problems, fatigue, or difficult circumstances, they can generate the optimal amount of excitement and energy to do their best.
- Being focused and yet relaxed – Champions have the ability to maintain concentration for long periods of time. They can easily let go of distractions and take control of their attention. They don’t let emotions get the best of them and cause poor performance.
- Ability to handle adversity – Top athletes know how to deal with difficult situations. Adversity builds character, but adversity also reveals character. When elite athletes know the odds are against them they embrace the chance to explore the outer limits of their potential. Rather than avoiding pressure, they feel challenged by it. They are calm and relaxed under fire. Setbacks become an opportunity for learning.
Many of the points simply brings the message back to attitude and the attitude one activity decides to embrace. Attitude is everything and I feel that Charles Swindoll puts this into perspective very nicely:
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitudes we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our Attitudes.
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