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Attitude really is everything

Kasewurm, Gyl A.

doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000356811.72199.39
Gyl's Guide to Managing for Success

Gyl Kasewurm, AuD, is Founder, President, and Owner of Professional Hearing Services in St. Joseph, MI, which receives more than 16,000 patient visits a year. Readers may contact Dr. Kasewurm at For past installments of Gyl's Guide, visit the HJ archives at



While I was vacationing in Arizona recently, my friend convinced me to start my day with an invigorating walk. He assured me he knew a great route that wouldn't be too tough. After we trekked for about half a mile, I was confronted with a very long road that rose steeply into the mountains. “You didn't say we were climbing a mountain,” I protested. As we walked up the steep incline for what seemed to me like hours, my attitude deteriorated with every step. This wasn't exactly how I wanted to start my vacation. After almost 30 minutes and lots of grumbling, I made it to the top and vowed to myself that this was the last walk I would take with that friend.

The next day, my friend suggested we conquer that same mountain again. “Why would I want to do that?” I thought. However, not one to back down from a challenge, I gathered my energy and set out for the long, arduous hike. This time I decided I would embrace the opportunity to burn some calories and start my day in a healthy way. As the journey progressed, I noticed that I wasn't as out of breath and it didn't seem nearly as difficult as the day before. I was actually having fun!

When the walk ended, I realized that the only thing that had changed from the previous day was my attitude. This experience made me wonder.

“If my attitude affected my performance on that walk, could my attitude be affecting my performance at work?”

All you have to do is listen to a news report to start getting a bad attitude. Those pessimistic newscasters make me feel like Chicken Little—sure that the sky is falling. I begin living cautiously and staying awake nights worrying about the economy and the future of my business. Yet, my worrying doesn't change anything. While I understand that the economy is not what it was and this may affect my practice, I also know that, despite the economic downturn, people still want and need to hear better.

There is much evidence that people who think positively are more successful than those who think negatively. Norman Vincent Peale, the original positive thinker and author of The Power of Positive Thinking, said, “Change your thoughts and you can change your life.” Anthony Robbins, a motivational guru, commands huge fees to present his high-energy lectures on the subject. And I have my own stories that reinforce the positive effects of positive thinking. In case your attitude needs improving, consider these tips:

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Guard your mind: While it is important to know what's happening in the world, we don't need 24/7 news to stay informed. Thirty minutes twice a day may be ample to stay in touch. There is a constant battle in our minds between positive and negative thoughts, and the more negative things we listen to, the greater our chance of being controlled by negative thoughts. Negative thinking can destroy our dreams, so if we are going to reach our potential, we must guard against negative thinking and anything that promotes negativity.

Decide to be successful: Making a conscious decision to do something is one of the defining differences between people who achieve great things and those who settle for mediocrity. No one said being a success is easy, but it won't happen unless we make the conscious decision to succeed. Take five minutes and write down five goals for your life; look at them every day and then write a plan of action to achieve them. Everything we have (or don't have) in life is a result of the actions we take. Making a commitment to take action to achieve your goals is like putting a car in gear. It's the first step towards reaching a destination. Decide what you want in life, develop a plan, and then consciously go after it!

Concentrate on what you can do, not on what you can't do: Don't let the state of the economy or some pundit's predictions become the driving force of your business. Sure, everyone faces adversity in life, but successful people believe they can overcome those hardships and reach their goals. Focus on the outcomes you want instead of the outcomes you fear, and don't hesitate to think big. Nelson Mandela said, “There is no passion in living small and in settling for a life that is less than what you are capable of living.”

I feel fortunate to be in a great profession that offers enormous potential in both thriving and lean economic times. Start today and focus on the positive, reach for your goals, and never accept the idea that there is a limit to how far you can go. Just watch your business grow!

By the way, with my friend's encouragement, I climbed that mountain twice on the last day of my vacation!

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.