Just like a great building stands on a strong foundation, so does success. And often the foundation of that success is attitude!

It is not what happens to you that counts. It is how you react to what happens to you. Simply because there is so little that we all control. Your attitude is the first thing people pick up on in interactions. And attitude is infectious – so wear your best, most positive one all the time. Nothing illustrates the impact better than the story of Jerry below – worth a read even if you have known of it..

Jerry is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!” He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”

Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.

“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.

“Yes it is,” Jerry said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.”

I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?”

I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. “the first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied. “Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live.”

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.

Jerry continued, “the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me in and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘he’s a deadman’. I knew I needed to take action.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Jerry. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. ‘Yes’ I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’ Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead’.”

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

Attitude determines success. People who maintain a positive attitude are significantly less likely to display signs of aging, more likely to stay stronger and healthier. Attitude is the most critical ingredient for happiness. Let me take a shot at suggesting steps to a super attitude :

  • focus on the future
  • focus on the solution, look for answers
  • look for goodness – in people, in situations, everywhere
  • look for valuable lessons that can be learnt, insights/ideas in adversity or otherwise

This one is a longer post – I wanted to share the Jerry story of impact of positive choices on life and the sort of lasting spirit it creates.

You have the power to lift everyone around you with your attitude. Just do it!!

have a great attitude…..


5 thoughts on “attitude…..

  1. Great post Rajiv.., just a personal practice, different from what jerry did everyday morning, I talk to myself before every situation to be in the positive frame of mind, most of the athletes do it, they have little chat within them self to focus and have a positive winning attitude.. Shouldn’t overdo it though 🙂


    1. Have to tell you this Sathya. I was down 8-2 in my squash game today morning (a game of 9 with a difference of 2 points to win). From then on, the only focus was on winning the next point – no thought of the complete game, just the next point. And you keep pepping up yourself – it gives you that extra competitive edge.

      The larger point is about the desire and approach to doing your best at any moment, in any situation. More often than not – that is the differentiator and is the winning attitude!

  2. Great Blog Rajiv. The best part of this is we all know this story and very few actually display the attitude needed to do the best.

    There is a story of 1986 Argentina Football team manager Carlos Bilardo. Roma (an Italian Serie A team ) had won a Scudetto title ( equalivalent of English Premier League) and Careca who was a Brazilian forward who was playing alongside Maradona in Roma. When the party was on , Bilardo who flew in as a guest was no where to be seen. It seems he went to a drawing board to make a strategy hoping that Argentina and Brazil will clash in the World Cup and what shoud Argentina do to tackle Careca the forward. The strategy worked as the following year in 1990 World Cup in Italy Argentina and Brazil played the pre quater finals and Argentina won the match 1-0 and Brazil was out of the world cup. The strategy was to bottle up Careca and the problem was he was a very tall striker and good in air. Argentina’s defence had all short players and Bilardo changed that to negate the scorching runs of Careca in the Brazilian forward line.

  3. Rajiv, a very good story, I would say it is easier said than done to imitate Jerry in everyday life, but it is worth trying because we can either make ourselves miserable or we can make ourselves happy. The amount of work is same.

    I have to tell you about my bicycle ride 2 weeks ago as I was attempting going to Nandi Hills from my home in South Bangalore and return back. It is 75-80kms one way. I left home at 5am in the morning, weather was cool, I was energized, charged up, and all excited as it was my first long-distance ride (I usually do 40-50kms on the weekend). The cycling enthusiasts would laugh at me if I told them that I was attempting this feat on a MTB with suspension. Anyways I made it to base of Nandi hills in 3.5 hrs on my heavy bike. While I was taking rest before I could start riding back again for home, I had all kinds of thoughts – is there any way I can hire a tempo or get into a bus and somehow reach home without riding. I wish I can explain, my knees were hurting, I was completely exhausted and then thinking of all the ups and downs on the International Airport highway (we never notice them when we are in the car), flyovers on the way and a distance of 75kms to home was really pushing me back. I said to myself, I am not going to give up so easily, let me maintain a constant speed/cadence and set up short goals – reach the highway, then International Airport, then Hebbal, and so on and so forth to reach final goal of J.P.Nagar, 6th phase. Infact, when I was riding in the middle of afternoon and the sun was exactly on top of my head, and my heart kept saying hire an auto or climb a bus, trust me, by this time my body has completely given up, then I used my positive mind/energy whatever I could gather and said to myself – it’s better to go through this pain now and hope that the result is going to be extremely rewarding, and so it was – I completed 150kms in 7.5hrs on a MTB. It was very self-satisfying and I can say for a fact that the last 25-30kms I rode purely with my mind and not with my body.

    “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

  4. Great Story Rajiv…..This is excellent point to stay positive and see the upside in every situation….Often, one gets lost in the difficulties of the moment rather than see the issue under the bigger picture.

    So keeping the story in mind when we have a difficult situation will always make the dificulties appear easier and easier for us to manage


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