No. 1



William James of Harvard University, the father of American psychology, oncesaid, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." This profound statement made many years ago, contains tremendous potential to help us become happier and more successful human beings. After all, isn't this what most of us want our lives to be?

My wife has a sweat shirt with the words, "I have an attitude" printed across the front. To symbolize the word "attitude", there is also a picture of a duck with the most awful facial configuration you can imagine. The dictionary defines "attitude" as: a state of mind or feeling.

Unlike computers, which can only store facts, statistics and other data, the human mind also has the capability of storing feelings and emotions. The marvelous human mind, with its many and diverse powers is what produces thoughts, and these thoughts become the basis for our actions. Our actions, therefore, are the result of not only what we think, but also how we feel. As it relates to our personal success, it's important to realize that actions trigger feelings, and feelings trigger actions. Your thoughts and feelings produce "attitudes." As Dr. James points out, "human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind."

There have been a number of people and organizations who have conducted studies to determine the basis for personal success and they all pretty much conclude the same thing. Mental attitude accounts for about 85% of our overall success in life, while skills and knowledge make up the balance.

I would like to share a true, life experience that can help us see how important our mental attitude really is and why it controls our lives. In the 1958 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Braves, during the late innings of a very crucial game, Elston Howard, power hitting Yankee catcher, was up to bat. With the count three balls and two strikes, the Braves' manager went out to the mound to talk with Warren Spahn, his great left handed pitcher. The manager said, "Don't give him a high outside pitch, because he will hit it out of the park!", and returned to the dugout.

It was too late! Warren's computer-like mind registered the thought "high outside pitch", which is exactly where the ball went! The manager was right: Elston Howard hit it out of the park. As Elston circled the bases, Warren Spahn threw his glove down in the dirt and made what has become a classic statement. He said, "WHY would anyone motivate themselves or others with the reverse of an idea?"

You see, because of the way the human mind is constituted, we always move in the direction of our currently dominant thought. The chances that Warren Spahn would have been successful in pitching to Elston Howard would have been greatly increased if the manager had simply said, "Keep the ball low and inside."

The reason attitudes control our lives is simple. We always move in the direction of our currently dominant thought. When we are thinking good and true things and have worthy goals to strive for, a positive attitude will definately give us the advantage. As I've said many times during speaking engagements around the country, "It's your attitude and not your aptitude that will determine your altitude" (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)