Activity 17 - The Attitudes of Successful Self-Directed People

Tuesday, 06 December 2011 04:39

Maurice Gibbons (c) 2008 Personal Power Press International


1. Seven attitudes are essential to continuing success in self-direction, and the development of character.
2. These attributes are responsibility, confidence, curiosity, drive, optimism, courage and determination.
3. The opposites are attitudes of failure: blame, confusion, boredom, passivity, negativism, fear, and frustration.
4. We become more successfully self-directed by moving from the dark of failure attitudes to the light of successful attitudes.
5. Decide where you rate in the attitude scales and choose which to improve first.
6. An attitude triad is an idea you have formed about yourself that is held in place by a strong feeling. Both are rooted in some experience, or experiences, which occurred earlier in your life.
7. We change attitudes by learning to be in the world in new ways so that we can change any negative triads to positive ones.

The Seven Attitudes of Successfully Self-directed People

Here are the seven attitudes that support our efforts to be self-directed and help us to live in the light. There are others but these are essential.

1. Responsibility-Commitment—realizing that success in self- direction depends upon you and not on others or circumstances.

2. Confidence-Self-Awareness—knowing yourself, the world, and your direction in life.

3. Curiosity-Wonder—is the basic trick we have that distinguishes us from other species; it makes us restless to experience and understand.

4. Drive-Intensity—is the energy that we bring to our activities, and how fully we apply ourselves to them.

5. Optimism-Positivity—the hope, the expectation of success that draws us forward, and our ability to find advantage in any circumstance.

6. Courage-Risk-taking—the willingness to chance unfamiliar, unknown, and difficult activities where memorable learning lies.

7. Determination-Ingenuity—the attitude that “I am unstoppable,” that I will find a solution to any problem I confront, or will deal with it skillfully.

Notice that these attitudes fit with steps in self-direction and its requirements, such as seeking ideas (curiosity), setting goals (confidence), and taking action (courage).

It is important for self-directed success to move from the dark attitudes of failure to the light, to the attitudes of success.

Attitudes turn us on and off to what we want to do. Here are the negative opposites that reduce our ability to function successfully: they plunge us into the dark and increase our chance of failure.

1. Blame-Frustration: Our difficulties are never due to our actions, always to someone else’s, or to circumstances ‘beyond our control.’

2. Confused-Unaware of self. Unclear about who we are, we suffer role diffusion and find it difficult to mobilize ourselves to any purpose or life-plan.

3. Boredom-Anxiety. We are not interested in anything and so are absorbed in pastimes and other time-burners at the best, and anti-social, destructive behavior at the worst. We become anxious about ourselves and our lives.

4. Passive-Helplessness. Without direction we drift and find ourselves in activities and relationships that have no meaning for us.

5. Negative-Hopelessness. When we consider any challenging activity, we are overcome with a sense of helplessness. We are not worthy; we couldn’t be successful. If we do start, we are haunted by the specter of imminent failure.

6. Fear-Avoidance. We avoid challenging ourselves to solve our problems or to progress in our lives because we are afraid of failure and any of a hundred other things. As a result we seldom take on the activities that would enable us to make our lives better.

7. Ineffective-Incompetent. We can be stumped by the first problem we face and abandon our efforts as pointless. As a result, we never get very far with anything—projects, relationships, or even pleasures. We feel unable to cope.

Going for the Light

The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.
-William James

Think of the seven attitudes of self-directed success as the light, and the seven negative attitudes as the dark. To be successful, it is important to be moving from the dark to the light as thoroughly as you can.

With strong, positive attitudes, we feel self-efficacy, that is, we feel confident that what we decide to do, we can do. Such attitudes are as essential as skills for self-directed success.

People who find themselves in the quicksand of the dark attitudes find it difficult to take the initiative in anything. They live a life of passivity and frustration.

But attitudes are not fixed in our lives. They are learned: they can be unlearned and changed. We can all move toward the light of successful accomplishment, and in the process we can transform our work and our lives.

The Attitude Scales

The first step is to examine what your attitudes are. Decide for each attitude whether you are on the dark, more negative side, or the light, more positive side. This is information for you only; the more honest it is, the more helpful it will be to you. The scales are descriptive, not scientific. They are designed to help you to focus on the attitude issue and to think about your own attitudes. Then we will invite you to upgrade them.

Note that on the dark side, the further to the left you go the darker the attitude becomes. Minus 1, for example, is a little bit negative; minus 10 is so negative your sun never rises. Similarly, the further to the right of zero you go, the more positive you become. A +10, for example, would be Polyanna plus.

Here are the seven scales. Mark your rating on each of them.

-10_______________________0 ______________________+10
Blame Neutral Responsibility
-10_______________________0 ______________________+10
Confusion Neutral Clarity
-10_______________________0 ______________________+10
Boredom Neutral Curiosity
-10_______________________0 ______________________+10
Passivity Neutral Drive
-10_______________________0 ______________________+10
Negativism Neutral Optimism
-10_______________________0 ______________________+10
Fear Neutral Courage
-10_______________________0 ______________________+10
Shame Neutral Determination

The Attitude Scales

Maurice Gibbons (c) 2009 Personal Power Press International

What is an Attitude?

An attitude, as we use the term, is an idea about ourselves, which is supported by an appropriate feeling. These arise from experiences we have had, usually early in our lives.

A child may be asked to play an instrument at a family gathering, for example, and may play badly or freeze. An adult may say, “Mary just can’t perform. She always messes up. It’s too bad because Billy is so very good....”

Mary is mortified and concludes, “If I try, I will fail,” and thinking about that she feels hopeless about trying at all. This idea, supported by this feeling, will likely be carried forward to Mary’s next performance and may regularly inhibit how well she does.

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or that you can’t, you’re right.”

Here is the attitude triad:

Choose one of the attitudes that you need to work on and describe it using the triad. What is the statement, concept, or idea in your mind concerning this attitude. (eg. “He’s a quitter. As soon as things get tough, he’s out of here.”) Then identify the feeling that such thoughts create. (eg. I feel ashamed that I don’t put up a fight and get the job done.) Finally, think of the experiences that might have led you to such thoughts and such feelings. (eg.“I was supposed to cut the lawn but forgot and when I came home my dad was doing it in his suit with grass stains all over his pants. He never said anything and wouldn’t let me take over. I was ashamed that I had been asked three times to do the lawn and hadn’t.”) Record this attitude triad in your journal.

****Some incidents can be disturbing when you recall them. If you feel the slightest concern, stop this process. If you wish to continue, do so with competent help, preferably a professional therapist.

How do we change such attitudes: how do we move from the darkness to the light?

The triad is a useful guide to transforming attitudes. Keep in mind the dark example that you just wrote in your journal, and apply these ideas to each aspect of it in order to transform it into an attitude with light.

Start by getting the concept, feeling and experience out into the open. Name them, say them out loud, and write them into your journal. Get them out of the shadows of your mind and into the light of day.

Once the details are out, the next step is to confront the concept, examine it closely, test the truth of its claims, and dismiss it as inaccurate, if you can.

Very often we are young when the first of these events happens. Mary was five when her grandmother said she couldn’t perform. She was severely critical of everyone. Often we have evidence that such concepts about us are not true, such as, instances where we have been successful. Mary actually performed well many times when she was young, but the voice prevailed over the evidence.

Make strong arguments on your own behalf. Write them in your journal. Dismiss the concept as inaccurate if you can.

Sometimes we do make mistakes, or overreach our abilities or readiness. If you have, accept the fact gracefully, even express gratitude. (Remember the Zanders in the Art of Possibility, teaching their students to throw their hands in the air and celebrate their mistakes.) We learn a lot by making mistakes. Sometimes it’s the only way. Then move on.

Absolute Certainty: It is an absolute certainty that the voices in our mind and at the heart of these dark attitudes do not describe who you are or who you can be.

Finally, reconstruct the negative attitude and make it positive. Examine your life and reclaim any experiences that can be the building blocks of the attitudes of success. Above all, for this transformation period, organize successes to confirm your new attitude.

Even though Mary knew the voice in her head was wrong, she needed a few successes in public to confirm and establish her new attitude of confidence in her ability.

One of Amir’s voices said he was a bright enough boy but no good with his hands. One day on the beach he took out his pocketknife and began to whittle a piece of driftwood. Soon he saw a figure emerge and finished it. He saw that it was good and others confirmed his assessment.

He challenged the voice that said he was incompetent. He carved again, felt pride in his work, and said, “I am skilled with my hands.” This began the slow development of his successful second career as a sculptor.

Experience is the key. The concept follows, and what we think creates the feelings. It is in our hands. Amir loved to carve, was proud of his emerging competence, and had many profound experiences that changed and enriched his life.

Moving toward the light

Turn now to the seven transformations in attitude identified at the beginning of this activity as essential to success in self-direction. Here they are simply stated:

Blame to responsibility
Confusion to clarity
Boredom to curiosity
Passivity to drive
Negativity to positivity
Fear to courage
Passivity to determination

Select a transformation. Use the three steps described above. Sometimes when you make a breakthrough to the light many transformations happen together. Become positive, for example, and other attitudes may become positive, too.

You can take charge. You can learn to hold the attitude you need. Prove it to yourself with one, and then go after the others.

Empower yourself with these ways into the light.

Here are other ways to build the attitudes you need to drive your activities:

1. Conduct positive self-directive activities. Any positive self-directive activity will build the seven attitudes because they are keyed to the process and are increased by use. The process is reciprocal: the attitudes are necessary for self-directed success, and self-directed success builds the attitudes.

2. Exercise, eat well, sleep. When you exercise your spirits will rise, you will feel better and you will be building the strength and wellbeing that you need to energize yourself to action. Eat well and lightly. The lean enjoy and survive. Make sure that you have regular solid sleep so your mind and body can renew. These are the basic basics.

3. Be grateful. Make a gratitude list in your journal. You can start by looking back at Activity #4 and reviewing your strengths. Think of all of the things you have that enhance your life. Think especially of the people who care about you, the advantages you have by just being you in this time and in this place. Think about the richness of the world around you. Think of the ultimate dark and be grateful for the light. Twenty items is a good start. Express your gratitude.

4. Nurture those you love. Care for those you care for. Express your feelings to them. It brings light into their days as much as it brings into yours. Commit actions of caring, affection, and love so that your feelings are clear even without words. In nurturing others, you are nurtured.

5. Connect with others, especially others living in the light. Darkness thrives in loneliness. Connecting with others brings us the pleasures of company and enable us to see ourselves. We can learn from each other, seek help from each other, and work together on enterprises. Work of connecting well—noting others peoples feelings, responding empathically, being caring, and trustworthy.

6. Live in the present. Do not dwell on the dark past. If the voices of dark attitudes appear, intervene and change them. They are your thoughts and you are in control. Keep in the now as much as you can, and concentrate on making it a good now.

7. To help you do that—work on the seven attitudes of success. Review them, affirm them, and build them into your life. Make them the anchors of your life style.

8. Separate from your dark stories. You are not the stories about you from the past. You are the person reading these words right now, and that is the person you decide to be, doing the things that you decide to do. Let that person be in the light.

9. Help others. Giving, especially giving yourself and your time, is pure light, especially when you do it without expectation of reward or indebtedness from those who receive.

Use the attitude triad and the nine approaches above to design your own plan for raising your positive score on each of the attitude scales. Plan a program for coming into the light and record your plan in your journal.

There is nothing trivial about developing the right attitudes for success in self-direction: without them, the skills are a machine without an engine. Besides, life is just so much better in the light.

Progress is made through regular small steps over time: the leaps will take care of themselves

Last Updated on Friday, 30 December 2011 18:55