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18 tips on how to have a winning attitude

They can because they think they can. — Virgil

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. — Winston Churchill

At the Feb. 5 conference of the 130-year-old multinational American Standard at Shangri-La Makati Hotel, I was invited to give a speech on the topic “How to have a winning attitude.” Here’s a condensed version of my speech.

What is the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? The inventor of the airplane was an optimist and the inventor of the parachute was a pessimist.         

One of the true secrets to success, not only for top entrepreneurs, business executives and professionals but for people of any profession I’ve interviewed, studied or interacted with is attitude. Therefore, the most important victory we need to achieve before we can win life’s many battles is to overcome self-doubts and develop a winning attitude. Here are my 18 suggestions:

1. Think positive. Former Health Secretary Dr. Juan Flavier said it best: “Just do it!” Think positive.

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Once, while walking at Shangri-La Plaza, Philippine STAR reader and Malaysia-trained geomancer master Hanz Cua offered to tell my fortune. There’s no harm in people believing, as long as they reinforce positive thinking and as long as they don’t forget to work hard and to pray.

Whenever fortune tellers say good things about my future, I believe 1,000 percent; but if it’s negative, I dismiss it as total hogwash! I believe that each of us born on this earth is destined for success; we just need to work hard, persevere, pray and dream. Any obstacles or so-called “failures” along the way are just “aberrations,” because I believe success is our birthright.

2. Set goals and write them with target schedules. Without dreams, how can we have a winning attitude to fight life’s many battles? Without target schedules, goals are fantasies and unexciting.

3. Passion. We should love our work, whatever our vocation. We should be the best and throw away the “Puwede na ‘yan” or “It’s already okay” mindset.

4. Do not have a feeling of entitlement. My younger sister Marilou and I didn’t get a single centavo of inheritance as kids, not even a share from a big real estate sale from our late dad’s estate a few years ago. Never whine and think the world or even our kinfolk and friends owe us anything. As a kid, I already knew that life in general is unfair, and that I have to depend on myself to achieve my goals.  

5. Choose your friends. Avoid or lessen interactions with people with envy in their hearts, negative mindsets, vices, or those who just complain or gossip. Pessimism, like optimism, can be contagious!

6. Perseverance. Never, ever give up. Do not be discouraged by rejections and setbacks. As long as we are alive, we still have hope to win. Failures are not insurmountable obstacles, but actually the requisite steppingstones to success.

KFC founder Colonel Sanders failed 1,000 times before he got a yes; China’s hero Dr. Sun Yat Sen failed in his revolution 10 times before winning on his 11th attempt in 1911. Abraham Lincoln lost in love, failed twice in business and lost eight elections before becoming the greatest US president.

A love story is not exciting if there are no problems and the girl just says yes in a few days — then there wouldn’t be a movie like Titanic, which lasts over three hours! Success that is hard-earned is more exciting!

7. Believe in yourself. Nobody is perfect and we should continuously improve our shortcomings, but let us think more on our strengths and reinforce them through non-stop learning and efforts.  Have faith in yourself, love yourself.

8. Inspiration from family members, loved ones. Look for kin or friends who inspire you. Though I didn’t inherit money, I’m inspired by the priceless legacy of inspiring tales on how my paternal forebears sailed to Manila in the 1790s and survived, then later the 19th century “rags-to-riches” saga and generosity of my great-great-grandfather, later the entrepreneurial prowess of my grandfather and my late dad.

Last but not the least, my late widowed mother was a teacher and school principal who was not materially rich but she was rich in love for family, in passion for teaching and in her Christian faith.

9. Read to be inspired by heroes of history. Read the stories of how others made their lives better, their excellence and also how they overcame adversity.

10. Faith of others. People, family, teachers or friends expressing faith in a person can endow that person with the magic of inspiration. I believe that was my late mom’s priceless gift to me; her faith in me gave me an indestructible self-belief. We ourselves, either as parents or bosses or friends to others, let us be a source of hope and encouragements to other people.

11. That which cannot destroy us makes us stronger. Friedrich Nietzsche famously said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” The Chinese word for crisis is we-ji, made up of two characters — wei meaning “danger” and ji meaning “opportunity.” Crisis can either strengthen us or destroy us, depending on our attitude.

12. Know how to compartmentalize crisis. When we encounter problems, in order to continue with our winning attitude, we should learn to use this psychological technique to avoid problems poisoning our whole being and ruining our lives. How? Put problems inside a locker in our mind, to be taken out only if we need to tackle them.

13. Good health generates positive energy. Take care of our basic physical health not only because it is true wealth, but because we can gain positive energy. Also, our bodies produce feel-good chemicals called “endorphins” from exercise, which is effective to offset any stress, anger, fear or despair.

14. Try to control our emotions. Let us try to be cool, always. Movie queen Susan Roces told me the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos advised her and her late husband Fernando Poe, Jr.: “Don’t make decisions when you’re emotional — when you’re too happy, or too angry or too sad — because you’re bound to make the wrong decision.”

15. Preparation. Often, preparation is half of the battle won. Preparation is crucial for sales talks, competitions or any undertaking, because it contributes to strengthening our positive winning attitude. I think humans, like dogs, can smell or sense emotions such as confidence or fear, so a well-prepared salesperson can exude self-confidence and a winning attitude which can help our sales prospects to be more positively predisposed to buy. 

16. Success is the best revenge. Don’t waste time and energy by getting even or plotting revenge against those who have wronged us. Use anger as firewood or the fuel for the fires of our ambitions because success is the best revenge.

17. Burn all the boats. This quite drastic, but I just have to cite it too as a technique by taking out all other options except victory. There is an ancient Chinese saying “Break the kettles and sink the boats.” This was General Xiang Yu’s order at the Battle of Julu (207 BC); by fording a river and destroying all means of re-crossing it, he thereby committed his army of soldiers to fight to the bitter end against the Qin kingdom or else die, and he won a stunning victory. “Fighting a battle with one’s back facing a river” is a similar saying from the same period, which was Han Xin’s order at the Battle of Jingxing (204 BCE).

18. Do not forget God as the ultimate source of all victories. I am not a religious person, but my favorite Bible verse as a high school student was Philippians 4: 13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Let us pray without ceasing, go to church and be closer to our creator in order to truly develop a winning attitude.

Christianity is a winning faith, its essence and ethos exude a winning psychology. What better winning story is there in history than Jesus Christ, who was born to an unwed mother and a poor carpenter in a manger, then after being persecuted and crucified to death, rose again in victory?

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Thanks for your feedback! E-mail willsoonflourish@gmail.com or follow WilsonLeeFlores on Twitter, Facebook and http://willsoonflourish.blogspot.com/

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