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Attitude Adjustment

E is for Effort

Excerpt from Pat’s best seller A is for Attitude: An Alphabet for Living.

There is personal honor and glory in every moment that you give your best, regardless of the outcome. You might not receive a trophy or a standing ovation or any form of material recognition. Your reward lies elsewhere.

Even after giving your all, you must be prepared sometimes to receive a below-par evaluation; a rating of good, not best; a score of seven out of ten; and the role of support staff, not team leader. Meanwhile, someone else who apparently has hardly tried, who has applied half the effort you did, might win all the kudos. Adjust. It is called life.

Too often I’ve seen talented people put their heart and soul into a project and then give up at the first sign of failure. There was a novelist I met who spent eight long years working on a manuscript. As soon as he finished, he sent it out to two literary agents. Both rejected it, and he simply gave up. He took the manuscript and the eight years of effort behind it and he stuck it on a shelf, and he has never written another line. When he told me this story, I listened in silent frustration. I wanted to roll back time and coach him to send his manuscript out to more agents (there are hundreds, all with different tastes and preferences) and to start writing his next novel in the meantime. You see, he didn’t lack talent or opportunity; he lacked effort.

Things don’t just happen. Academic degrees and job promotions are earned, not determined by luck, wish or intent, or simply given away. Yes, even those people who get ahead because they know the right people know the right people because they made the effort to know them. Personal initiative does count and will have a lot to do with your success. Don’t subscribe to the idea that I call the “lucky star theory.” This is the belief that those who succeed were born under the right start or to the right family or were in the right place at the right time.

Even gifts of talent must be nurtured on a daily basis. All peak performers, whether it’s in the arts or business or athletics or law or medicine, work their craft. Consistent pursuit of excellence is more essential to success than innate talent. It takes hard work to deliver noteworthy accomplishments or an effortless performance.

Today, as I approach three decades on the speaking circuit, I still practice my speeches. First, I spend hours at the computer crafting a speech that fits the occasion and the audience. That’s just the start. On the page, my speech is merely a composition of thoughts, ideas and research. To get the words and phrases to live, I must practice to connect the audience to the content, to transform the message into a clarion call to action. I also have to work on the pacing to keep the interest and entertainment level high and to deliver the desired lagniappe – just a little bit more – that I strive to make my trademark. All that time and effort goes on behind the scenes before the delivery of a speech that is generally over within an hour of its start.

Work ethic is not part-time. If you have work, work it! Otherwise, someone or something will replace you.

The last I checked, there weren’t any more openings for job critics. So don’t waste your time and talent analyzing, judging, whining, or sulking. Do become low-maintenance, strive to become the one everyone knows he can count on. Perform the tasks of your job with efficiency and expedition, not entitlement. Offer new thoughts and ideas that will benefit your organization. Carry out your assignments with a generous spirit and a smile. Even if you’re not in your dream job, you’ll soon realize the truth in the saying that “a smile is a curve that straightens a lot of thing out!”

Now here’s a new assignment for you: From this moment, you are going to take the starring role in your life. Life all stars, you are going to recognize and cultivate your talents on a daily basis. You will not allow your skills to stagnate. The time for hiding your gifts has passed and it will not return.

Be Bold ... Be Courageous ... Be Decisive ... Be Steadfast ... Be Distinctive

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Pat Russell-McCloud in Blue

“Everyone has a personal signature. Let me help you discover yours.”
— Pat Russell-McCloud, J.D.
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