In life, attitude is everything.  It’s not about what happens to you, but rather how you respond.  Here is one of my all-time favorite quotes, it speaks to the power of attitude:

“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 say 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 change 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.”

-Charles R. Swindoll

Attitude is everything.  But sometimes maintaining a positive attitude in recovery, and in life, is not easy.  We all have bad days, moments when ‘staying positive’ is easier said than done.  That is ok.  What’s not ok is if these bad attitudes persist, if they linger.  So what can we do?  What I am offering is a simple, effective way to pivot towards a positive mindset.  Here’s what works for me:

Sunday morning, ESPN airs a show profiling athletes with inspirational stories.

This type of show resonates with me for multiple reasons, the obvious one being I am a huge sports fan.  But I also love to root for the underdog.  I have great respect for people who refuse to be defined by their circumstances in life, and I admire those who can transform ‘limitations’ into motivation to overcome long odds.  This show is right in my wheelhouse!

I record every episode, so if I can’t watch Sunday I can schedule 30 minutes during the upcoming week to do so.  Here are 2 stories from a recent episode:

Shaquem Griffin

Shaquem’s story is one of perseverance and the pursuit of a dream despite incredible odds.  Shaquem was born with a condition that required him to have his entire left hand amputated at the age of 4.

Despite this ‘limitation’ he had a dream of becoming a professional football player.  In case you were wondering, the odds of any high school football player in America being drafted by an NFL team is approximately .09%.  And the odds of a player with only 1 hand??  To say ‘not good’ would be the understatement of the year.

Shaquem never wavered from his dream.  People doubted him, and they told him he didn’t belong in football, but he used that as motivation.

“I’m blessed to have thick skin.  But I’m even more blessed to have a family that never let me make excuses and who raised me to never listen to anybody who told me I couldn’t do something – especially because of my hand.”

“There were definitely times when I wanted to quit…but all that work in the backyard helped me to develop the mentality that I can handle anything – that whatever you come at me with, I can come back at you even harder.”

“I’ve had people doubt me my whole life, and I know that there are a lot of kids out there with various deformities or birth defects or whatever labels people want to put on them, and they’re going to be doubted, too.  And I’m convinced that God has put me on this earth for a reason, and that reason is to show people that it doesn’t matter what anybody else says, because people are going to doubt you regardless.

That’s a fact of life for everybody, but especially for those with birth defects or other so-called disabilities.”

How did it work out for Shaquem?  Last week he was drafted in the 5th round of the NFL draft!  He will get his chance to fulfill his purpose as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.

Congratulations Shaquem – you deserve it!

Pratima Sherpa

Pratima’s story is also one that inspires hope.  She was born & raised in Nepal, and her dream is to become the 1st Female Professional golfer in the country’s history.  It won’t be easy as she faces some big obstacles growing up in a country where approximately 1/3 of the residents live below the poverty line – the average family income is $862.00/year.

Nepalese women face additional challenges, including no property rights and limited access to higher education.  Pratima grew up on the golf course – but not in the traditional sense.

The only housing her parents could afford was a small maintenance shed literally located on the golf course – behind the 4th hole.  With no access to clubs her father had to improvise – he cut off a tree branch and whittled it into the shape of a club.  These are not the conditions that typically breed professional golfers.  Yet Pratima’s goal remained clear:

“I want to be the 1st Ladies golf professional in Nepal…I know it is very difficult, but it is not impossible.”

And she refused to let her circumstances negatively impact her attitude:

“The shed is my lucky house…because if I don’t live there, I cannot play golf…thats why I feel lucky.”

Armed with her wooden club & positive attitude, Pratima trained hard, spending countless hours on the golf  course.  There is only 1 golf course in Nepal, so it didn’t take long for word to spread.

Her story inspired other members, so much so they were compelled to provide support in the form of used equipment and lessons.  In a short period of time Pratima developed a really strong game.  She began competing in local tournaments…and winning (you can see some of her trophies in the photo below.).

In September, she will have a shot at competing in Nepali Q school.  If she finishes in the top 5, she will accomplish her dream of becoming a professional golfer.  Regardless of how she finishes, Pratima has already proven all of the doubters wrong, and she has inspired countless other female golfers to pursue their dream.

What I notice in myself, after hearing these types of stories, is an INSTANT SHIFT IN MY ATTITUDE.  It’s almost like a SHOT OF ADRENALINE, I have this huge RUSH OF POSITIVITY – it feels awesome!  Does this erase any challenges, issues, or stressors in my life?  Unfortunately no.  But my ability to manage these things goes up tremendously.  That brings us back to the importance of ATTITUDE – it’s all about how we respond that makes a difference.

I know watching a TV show or reading an article isn’t going to cure everything.  But what I am suggesting is much more than that – it is spending intentional time and intentional energy engaging in activities designed to shift your attitude.  So I encourage you to try this, and do it consistently – schedule time in your week like I did.  Not a sports fan?  No problem.  Find something that moves you, inspires you, makes you happy.

“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”

-Hans Selye

Thanks for reading,

Jeff