Winner or Whiner?

As a former professor, a present-day author, trainer and professional speaker, I’ve spent my entire adult life studying human behavior. I have tried to answer the question, “Why are some people winners, while others are whiners?”

I think I’ve found some possible answers and I want to share them with you. The difference between the two has nothing to do with social status, education, race or gender. The difference has everything to do with your own attitude, mindset, and how you respond to adversity.

Yes, you can be a winner in life, at work and at home if you will adopt these seven practices.

Speak Positive Words
Every morning before arising from my bed I say 100 positive words and phrases. For example, I say, “Money cometh.” “I am a winner.” “Yes, I can.” “I can do it.” “I am a successful businessman.” or “I am contented today no matter what happens”.

Use an Accepting Attitude
One of the things I’ve learned in life is to refrain from fighting things I cannot change. An acceptance attitude will move you further than a negative attitude. Even though a negative attitude is 7-10% stronger, it is the positive attitude that moves you into the direction you desire.

For example, you might visualize a person attempting to climb to the top of a mountain, constantly thinking negative thoughts. When I wanted to obtain a PhD, I was told I could not do it. People gave me excuses as to why it could not be done by me. I had low grades, no money, poor study habits, low self-esteem, and no African-American had ever achieved that goal from Waterloo, Iowa during that period.

I accepted these criticisms. I did not resist the truth. But my critics forgot one important thing – I believed in myself and that I could take lemons and turn them into lemonade. I was determined to learn. I set good study habits, built my self-esteem, and applied for financial assistance.

A Growth Mindset
My self-esteem is strong now but that was not always the case. I am now able to look at my accomplishments and realize my open mindset was the turning point of my success. I had negative thoughts but I chose not to dwell on the negative. Instead, I symbolically became a sponge and absorbed all the teachings I could from my mentors and teachers. I am proud I could do this at such an early age, it helped me accomplish many things my critics thought were impossible.

Sometimes you must step away from fear and take a leap of faith. Fear has more to do with meaning and interpretation of what you perceive as a threat. Take a risk even when fear is present.

During my high school wrestling days, I can honestly say in the beginning of the matches, I was fearful of my opponents. All my high school matches were tough. I did not want to be beaten and that guy across the circle, from the opposing team wanted to defeat me. When the match started, my fear left and I became a tiger on the mat.

Don’t let fear overwhelm you. Learn to manage it and use it to your advantage. If you are well prepared, you have nothing to fear.

Build Your Self-Esteem
Feeling good about yourself has been neglected by many in our culture. We are all bombarded with negative news, listening to bad personal stories from our friends and co-workers, and reading horrible stories on social media.

It’s difficult to feel good today. However, we must take time to build our self-esteem. Spend quiet time with yourself and say positive affirmations throughout your day and play soft music that makes you feel good. Focus on the positive things in life by selectively listening to and blocking out stories with a negative ending.

There was a hit series, years ago, called, “This is Your Life.” I remember spending countless hours every week watching the host cover the lives of celebrity guests. They would highlight the positives and mention some of the negatives but the theme of the show worked and was popular all over America.

This is what I am suggesting for you. Focus on the positive things and skip through the tragedies, set-backs, and disappointments, then you will see your self-esteem increase.

Appreciate the Moment
Live in the moment now and stop complaining about the past. We cannot change our past. Once I asked myself, “If I would have had a better attitude and believed in myself more, would I have taken the Iowa state championship instead of placing fourth in the state?” I will never find out because the past is over.

I have chosen to move forward and not rehash the past as many people do. They relive the past for the next 30 or 40 years. Maybe that is why I believe in putting 100% effort into whatever I do and I refuse to question the outcome. Don’t drag your past into your current or future space. Allow it to fade away and become a distant memory. In distant memories, some of them are merely life-lessons that can be passed on to future generations. Our positive and negative experiences make up who we are today. We can use all them to make better life adjustments and choices.

What steps will you take today to be a winner instead of a whiner?

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