One of the principles I’ve seen looking at the lives of extraordinarily successful people is that the vast majority of them really seem to love what they do. They are very dedicated and often work long hours at their chosen field, but usually seem to have fun along the way.

Steven Scott, in his book A Millionaire’s Notebook, suggests that having fun might even be a requirement to achieving success. He says that you are far less likely to have the commitment and determination that it takes to become successful unless you are having some fun doing it.

Fun First Then Success

Some of you may be thinking at this point, “Well if I became successful and rich of course it would be fun for me.”

Steve says that’s exactly backwards. You have to enjoy what you are doing first then the success will follow. And that is especially true if you hate your job or the people you are working with. Steve feels strongly enough about this point that he wrapes it in one of his success laws.

Law of Negativity: The more negative you are about your work and the people you work with, the less likely it is that you will become successful.

Are you a “glass half empty” kind of person?

If you want to become more successful you need to change your outlook and become someone with a “glass half full”.

We all know someone who’s really negative. Maybe it’s the receptionist at the office who grumbles every time the phone rings then says sweetly as she picks it up, “How may I help you?” Or maybe it is the sales guy who complains when he’s out on a smoke break that, “All my customers are idiots.”

(As an aside: I’d be curious to see the results of a scientific attitude study: Are smokers statistically more positive or more negative than non-smokers? I’ve got my theory. But I know I”m biased since I don’t smoke. What do you think?)

These complaining negative type folks are really unlikely to see improvement along a path toward success until they get a grip on their attitudes and start having some fun at what they do. If we are just Living for the Weekend then we are unlikely to ever become successful.

“But you don’t understand! My job really stinks. There is no way I could ever enjoy it!”

You may hate your job. But Steve says that even if you’re in a dead end job that’s the pits, making it more enjoyable is often the key to moving out and moving up.

How do I draw that conclusion? Simple. The more you learn to enjoy your job and the people you work with, the more successful you’ll become. And the more successful you become, the more likely you’ll advance in your company. The more you advance in your company, the more desirable you’ll be to other companies. Simply stated, enjoying your job breeds success, and success breeds upward mobility.

And Steve has a good point. I’ve experienced this phenomenon first hand. I’ve had some doozies of jobs in my day. I’ve worked at jobs that were “beneath” me because I was in a bind and had bills to pay. And I’ve worked for some incredibly difficult bosses.

But each time I tried to put my best face on my situation and give it my all. I did find it especially challenging to stay positive whenever I was working a difficult boss. And I’m not naturally a positive, up-beat guy. My inclination is to look at the empty portion of the glass and tell you all the reasons why something might not work.

But since I want to be successful, and I know those attitudes won’t help me, I work to overcome them.

That effort has paid off over the years. I have been repeatedly approached over my career by companies who recognized my abilities and offered me more attractive jobs.

Your Attitude Is Up To You

It boils down to another of Steve’s laws.

Law of Attitudes: You alone are responsible for your attitudes, and you alone can make them more positive.

Our attitudes are not a function of our environment. They are a matter of personal choice. And if we choose to let our circumstances dictate our attitudes we will never become truly successful. Because we are abdicating one of the core character traits that makes us human and separates us from the animals.

We don’t have to live in La-La Land like Pollyanna, looking at life through rose colored glasses all the time. (Although that would probably be a better alternative for most of us then the negative doom and gloom attitude that we trundle around with.) But if we get into a grump every time things don’t go exactly our way, or we complain about everything else around us we will never achieve that success we are craving.

Let me close today with this thought

One boat sails east and one boat sails west, both by same breeze that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sail and not the gale the governs the way you go.

The wind is blowing. Which way are you going to set your sails?

Will you just let the wind push you wherever it will? Or will you turn about, set your sails into the wind and cruise toward success?

The choice is yours. Make it wisely.

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