Whether you’re concerned about your day-to-day work or the long-term goals you’ve set, a good attitude can make all the difference. In this article, Laura Brandenburg expands on some tips gathered from Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude.
Two years ago, I picked up Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. Each day since, I’ve been on a journey of investing in my attitude. Along the way, I’ve discovered that attitude is how we achieve our lofty goals and ambitions, while also living a fulfilling life.
In the book, Gitomer shares why a positive attitude is the key to success and also walks you through a program for creating your own attitude transformation. In this article, I’ll share three of his tips.
Tip 1: Be Selfish on the Inside
It might be surprising, but a positive attitude starts with being selfish. According to Gitomer, it’s impossible for you to be positive for others until you have taken care of yourself. Although I aim to live by the mantra “Give more than you expect to receive,” it’s difficult to be all in and give to others before you give to yourself. Gitomer defines being selfish on the inside as “the way you think about yourself, the personal pride you have, the person you seek to become, and your thoughts just before you respond or take action.” 
There are no limits to the ways you can give to yourself—you can give yourself time, pride, or things. But, the root of this concept is to invest in yourself in ways that build you up. When someone asks for help or encouragement and you have nothing to give, you may respond negatively. This has nothing to do with that person or their request. It means you are not giving to yourself first.
Being selfish on the inside means you feel better about you as a person as a result of the actions you take. Being selfish on the inside means you’ve learned to respect your own right to a positive attitude. This might look like any of the following:
- You buy a new, tailored outfit so you can feel great about yourself when you make an important presentation
- You wake up one hour earlier or stay up one hour later to learn a new skill that you enjoy
- You develop self affirmations that inspire you and fill you with pride
Are you selfish about your attitude? Are you taking care of you?
Tip 2: Stop Blaming Your Circumstances
When things get rough, it’s easy to look outside for the cause of your problems. When you miss a requirement, fail to meet a deadline, or get overlooked for a promotion, there is always someone or something else that can share at least part of the blame. However, this sort of behavior does nothing to improve your attitude or help you achieve real success. Gitomer writes, “It’s not the rain or the car or the phone or the product. It’s you. You have a choice in everything you do. Choose a better way.” 
Those who succeed rarely do so by pinning blame on others. They most often do so by choosing paths that lead to success. If you are busy figuring out who else to blame for the latest project meltdown you are associated with, you’ll miss the opportunity to make it right and make it better next time.
Here are some of the ways I see software professionals blame circumstances:
- We can’t improve this process because management does not support it
- I can’t build new skills because funding for training was cut
- I didn’t meet the deadline because the other developer delivered buggy code
- I missed that requirement because the stakeholder didn’t answer my question or read my document
- I overlooked that defect because the spec was hard to understand
All of these statements have one element in common: “because,” which equates to “It’s not my fault!” Of course, these circumstances are legitimately frustrating. But, where do you expect to get complaining about them? Where could you potentially get by choosing a better way?
By taking personal accountability for improving the situation—by looking inside for a solution before looking outside to lay blame—you’ll make things happen. Once you stop blaming your circumstances, a world of possibilities to achieve success opens before you and many sources of negativity surrounding you dissipate.
Now, you are probably not the one who always blames your circumstances. But, that’s not to say that this tip can’t help you transform the smaller ways in which you allow circumstances to control your possibilities of success. Spend the next day or week paying attention to the times you use “because,” and perhaps you’ll find some new areas in which you can invest in improving your attitude.
Tip 3: Invest Your Time, Don’t Spend It
There are never enough hours in the day, but how many of those hours are you investing in something important? Gitomer challenges us to look at some common attitude-busting ways of spending time—watching the local news or TV reruns, aimlessly browsing the Internet, etc. He also challenges us to invest time each day in something that improves us as individuals. Take that time and invest in your attitude. Invest in a skill that helps you achieve a bigger goal, whether in your career or in your personal life. There is no gift more precious than time. We can’t buy more of it, but we can lose it quickly when we spend it in ways that do not build us up or make us happy.
I think it’s easy to take away from this tip that leisure time is unimportant, so I want to share my own personal interpretation of success via this tip. My husband and I watch two TV shows we enjoy almost every evening just before going to bed. They are part of the way we wind down from the day and a small investment of time we choose to make in our own leisure. But, we’ve stopped having the TV on from dinner time to bedtime—a clear way to spend time and lose it. As a result of making this change, we each tend to invest over an hour between dinner and TV time to reading.
How you choose to invest your time is your decision. The important thing is that it reflects your values—your decisions about what is important in your life. It might be more time with the kids, your spouse, your career, or your education. I can’t give you the right answer, but I can encourage you to take a close look at whether you are investing your time in your values and life priorities.
Gitomer’s book has transformed the choices I make each day and how I look at the value of my positive attitude. These three tips are gems that have resonated with me and helped me move along my own personal path to greater success. I hope they help you as well. I’d welcome the opportunity to hear your own stories of cultivating a positive attitude and achieving success in the comments below.
- Jeffery Gitomer, Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude: How to Find, Build and Keep a Yes! Attitude for a Lifetime of Success (FT Press, 2006), 29.
- Gitomer, 49.