Famous sales motivational speaker the late Zig Ziglar used to say, “It’s not your aptitude, it’s your attitude that determines your altitude.” I think he was right.

Many years ago, I heard about an exceptional kid who was attending a local high school. He had developed quite a reputation as an outstanding athlete on the football field. I was so intrigued I attended several games just to see him perform. He was phenomenal.

This kid reminded me more of the great Auburn University running back Bo Jackson than any high school running back I had ever seen. He was big and fast, and those defenders he could not outrun, he ran over. When he carried the ball, he showcased exception balance and vision. It was easy to see he had a bright future.

In asking around, I found there was much more to this young man than his success on the gridiron. He was bright, good-looking and carried himself like a winner. In the classroom, he had a reputation for being intelligent and articulate.

When I had the opportunity to speak to a high school class he attended I found him to be as advertised – great smile, personality plus.

Shortly before he graduated from high school, I had the opportunity to discuss his future with his high school principal. I spoke of what an impression this young man had made on me. I talked of his athleticism, his shape mind, his engaging personality.

“You know,” I said, “This kid seems to have it all. What a bright future!”

His principal listened very carefully and thoughtfully to what I had to say before he spoke.

“Jack,” he responded. “Everything you have observed about this young man is true. You have described him perfectly … except for one thing.”

Then, as he leaned forward in his chair, he said, almost regretfully,

“He’s got a bad attitude.”

That young man went on to receive a football scholarship at a major university. Two months into his college career he was thrown off the team, thrown out of college, and thrown in jail. All that potential wasted because of a bad attitude.

Here’s a great quote from Charles Swindall.

“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 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 attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past … we cannot 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.”

Those words are suitable for framing.

Speaking of the importance of a healthy attitude, here’s a little poem I have shared with audiences across America over a span of 30 years. It too is titled “Attitude.”

“It’s a funny thing but true

The folks you don’t like, don’t like you!

I don’t know why this should be so,

But just the same I always know,

That when I’m sour friends are few,

When I’m friendly, folks are too!

I sometimes get up in the morn

Ah wishin’ I was never born!

And then I make cross remarks, a few,

And then my family wishes, too;

That I had gone some other place!

But then I change my little tune,

And sing and smile, and then

the folks around me sing and smile.

I guess it was catching all the while.

It’s a funny thing, but true,

The folks you like, sure like you!”

Here’s a great quote from the book Emotional Intelligence:

“It is energy demanding work to experience distressing realities in a positive light.”

The Good Book says “Keep (guard) your heart (mind) with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.”

A healthy attitude must be worked on every day and defended vigorously! Even with our best efforts, I suppose we all could, from time to time, use what Zig Ziglar used to refer to as a “Check-up from the neck up!”

Keep smiling!

Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, Southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a “Certified Speaking Professional.” He can be reached at jack@jackmccall.com Copyright 2022 by Jack McCall.

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