Monday, September 29, 2014

Excuses! Excuses! Excuses!

People often ask me who my heroes are. One is Wendy Stoker.

Wendy attended a Midwest high school and, in her final year, finished just 3.5 points behind first place in girls' diving. She went to an East Coast college, where she took a full load of classes, was on the bowling team, participated in student government and continued her diving. But what I find most spectacular about this young woman is her typing skill. As a college freshman she typed at a "whizzing" - well, sor of - 40 words per minute. 

Did I forget to mention Wendy Stoker was born without arms?

She types 40 words per minute with her toes. 

What is it that causes a person to possess such determination, such courage, such an indomitable spirit? Before I discuss that, let me share with you about another of my heroes.

Thomas Alva Edison invented the incandescent lightbulb, the movie camera and the batteries that start our cars. Toward the autumn years of his life, he worked in a modest building that resembled a barn. There, with his son, Edison would often remain late into the night, laboring to perfect his inventions. One evening, in an attempt to improve the retention of a battery's charge, an unfortunate combination of chemicals caused his latest experiment to burst into flames. The fire quicly spread through the old wooden structure, and what had began as a mirror of chemical combustion exploded into a towering inferno.

Edison's son quickly evacuated the building. Using his smock to shield him the heat of flames, he desperately called for his father, fearing Edison might still be in the barn trying to save his precious lifework. Running frantically, the young man circled the barn, hoping his father had escaped through another exit. On his second time around the building, he turned corner and, to his great relief, there stood his legendary father.  Edison's hands were burried deep i his soot-speckled smock, his white hair blackened with ash. He was watching intently as flames devoured the structure.

"Father!" cried Edison's son. "I was afraid you were still inside!" 

Without taking his eyes off the flames, Edison said, with a sense of urgency, "Son, go get your mother!"

"Why Dad?'

With a twinkle in his eyes his father replied, "Because your mother comes from a small town, and she's never seen a fire like this before!"

When the flames had finished their work, leaving only ash and twisted frame, Edison turned to his son. "You know anyone who has a tractor?"

"Yes, Dad, but why?"

Edison answered, "Because it's time to rebuild, Boy. It's time to rebuild."

Wendy Stoker and Thomas Edison. What great models for each of us! But what was it that kept them going, though the odds were stacked against them? What was the fuel that compelled them to move beyond setbacks?

In heroes well known or unsung, you'll find one common thread, one common denominator. In every case, it is attitude! That's right! Attitude.

People who are effective have used setbacks as stepping stones; whereas ineffective people have used them as excuses.

Your attitude is more important than you will ever realize. It's the most important thing about you - more important than your education, your past, your looks or your money. Your attitude will help you make friends or cause you to make enemies. It will attract people to you or repel them.

Your attitude is even more important than your skills in determining your ability to succeed. John D. Rockefeller once said, "I will pay a man more for his attitude and his ability to get along with others than for any other skill he may possess." Your attitude is one of your most important assets.

What is important is not the current state of your family, your problems, who your boss is or how much money you make. 

What is important is your attitude toward family, toward problems, toward authority and toward money. Attitude makes all the difference in the world!

You'll find that both effective and ineffective people have experienced setbacks. However, the people who are effective have used those setbacks as stepping-stones, whereas ineffective people have used them as excuses.

I am absolutely convinced of the truth behind the maxim, "Ten percent of life is made up of what happens to you - the other 90 percent is how you respond to what happened to you. " That's where character is built. That's where personality is formed. That's where attitude is expressed.

Find two people who attended the same schools, had the same teachers, shop at the same stores, live in the same city and even aten the same church. One struggles and the other is successful. Why?


(From Wayne Cordeiro's "Attitudes that Attract Success")

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