Attitude Adjustment


An attitude is a general outlook or state of mind.

  • Our attitude determines the limits of our success.

The right attitude for success requires a very specific set of beliefs and approaches:

  1. Focus on your strengths.
  2. Go for long-term results.
  3. Be ready to invest everything you have.
  4. Be ready to try your hardest.
  5. Success might be lonely.
  6. You can only control your decisions.
  7. Excuses don’t matter.
  8. Your goals should be focused on a greater purpose than yourself.
  9. Intelligence and effort don’t matter as much as new ideas.
  10. Focus on growth, not status.
  11. Success requires admitting you’ve been believing things wrongly.
  12. Prioritize working toward growth.
  13. Change is always good.
  14. Perfect is the enemy of good.
  15. Avoid “visualizing success”.
  16. When the time calls for it, be ready to break the rules.
  17. Life on this planet is too short to obsess about hypotheticals.
  18. The tasks in front of you are all you have.
  19. You should see initial results quickly.
  20. Be tenacious.
  21. Do as much research as possible.
  22. The rewards aren’t as important as the journey.
  23. Create distance with anyone who sabotages your success.
  24. Your success will make you part of a network of achievers and overcomers.
  25. Constantly draw towards successful people.

Why attitude?

An attitude is a general outlook or state of mind.

Your attitude, more than anything else, determines your limits to success:
  • Contrary to popular opinion, success doesn’t require intelligence, originality, or virtue as much as the right attitude.
  • Our most challenging barriers are driven by emotional beliefs, and are rarely physical.
  • We don’t see alternatives or listen to the call to be better when we’re cynical.
  • We can’t set rational goals without an accurate view of the world.
  • Our optimism determines how well we recover from hardship and failure.
  • We need worthwhile mentors and peers, and we tend to draw like-minded people near us.

Everyone can see a bad attitude, but most people are never told they have one.

The right attitude requires accurate beliefs

We conform our attitude to whatever we’ve placed at our center:
  • Our center is whatever we’ve placed our faith in.
  • All good centers transcend self-interested goals.
If this is the center of your life:Then these will be:SpouseFamilyMoneyWorkPossessionsPleasureFriend(s)Enemy(s)ChurchSelfPrinciples
Spouse Meets all needsGood in its place, but less importantNecessary to take care of spouseA means of acquiring money to care for a spouseA means to bless, impress, or manipulateEither a marital activity or unimportantSpouse is the best or only friend, all friends are “our friends”The marriage is defined by the common enemy or the spouse “defends” themAn activity to enjoy together, but subordinate to the relationshipSelf-worth is spouse-based and highly vulnerable to spouse’s attitudes and behaviorsIdeas that create and maintain marriage relationship
Family Part of the familyHighest priorityFamily economic supportA means to an endFamily comfort and happinessFamily activities or relatively unimportantFriends of the family or competition/threat to strong family lifeDefined by family and possible threats to the family’s strength, source of family strength and unitySource of help for familyVital part of but subordinate to familyRules that keep family unified and strong, subordinate to family
Money Asset or liability in acquiring moneyEconomic drainGives security and fulfillmentNecessary to the acquisition of moneyEvidence of economic successEconomic drain or evidence of economic stressChosen because of economic status, or influenceEconomic competitors, threat to economic securityTax write-off, freeloading moochersSelf-worth is determined by net worthWays that work in making or managing money
Work Help or hindrance in worthHelp or interruption to work, people to instruct in work ethicOf secondary importance, evidence of hard workGives fulfillment and satisfaction, the greatest goodTools to increase work effectiveness, fruits of workWaste of time, interferes with workDeveloped from work setting or shared interest, basically unnecessaryObstacles to work productivityImportant to corporate image, waste of time, opportunity for professional networkingDefined by job roleIdeas that create success at work, adapts to work conditions
Possessions Main possession, assistant in acquiring possessionsPossession to use, exploit, dominate, smother, control and showcaseKey to increasing possessions, another possession to controlOpportunity to possess status, authority, recognitionSymbols of status and identityBuying, shopping, joining clubsPersonal objects, usableTakers, thieves, others with more possessions or recognition“My” church, a status symbol, source of unfair criticism or good things in lifeDefined by the things owned, social status, or recognitionConcepts of enabling, acquiring, and enhancing possessions
Pleasure Companion in fun and pleasure, or an obstacle to itVehicle or interferenceMeans to increase opportunities for pleasureMeans to an end, “fun” work is okayObjects of fun, means to more funUltimate purpose in life, primary source of satisfactionCompanions in funThose who take life too seriously, guilt trippers, destroyersInconvenient, an obstacle to recreation, a guilt tripInstrument for pleasureNatural drives or instincts that must be satisfied
Friend(s) Possible friend or possible competitor, social status symbolFriends or an obstacle to developing friendships, social status symbolSource of economic and social goodSocial opportunityMeans of buying friendship, entertaining, or providing social pleasureAlways enjoyed with friends, primarily social eventsPopularity is critical to happiness, belonging and acceptanceOutside the social circle, common enemies provide community or defines friendshipsPlace for social gatheringSocially defined, afraid of embarrassment or rejectionBasic laws that enable getting along with others
Enemy(s) Sympathizer or scapegoatEmotional refuge or scapegoatMeans to fight with or prove superiorityEscape or opportunity to vent feelingsFighting tools, means to secure allies, escape, refugeRest and relaxation time before the next battleEmotional supporters or sympathizers, possibly defined by a common enemySource of all problems and the cause of all self-protection and justificationSource of self-justificationVictimized, immobilized by the enemyJustification for labeling enemies, source of enemy’s wrongness
Church A companion in/facilitator for church service or a trial of faithModels to exemplify adherence to church teachings or trials of faithMeans to support church and family, evil if greater in priority than church services or teachingsNecessary for temporal supportTemporal possessions of minimal importance, reputation and image of great worth“Innocent” pleasures are opportunities to gather with other church members, other pleasures considered sinful or time-wasters to self-righteously denyOther members of the churchNonbelievers: those who disagree with church teachings or who live in opposition to themOrganization possesses ultimate authoritySelf-worth determined by church activity, contributions, or doing things that reflect the church ethicDoctrines taught by the church, subordinate to the church
Self Possession and source of satisfactionPossession and fulfiller of needsSource of needs satisfactionOpportunity to “do what I want”Source of self-definition, protection, enhancementDeserved sensory satisfactions, “my right”, “my needs”supporter, provider for “me”source of self-definition and self-justificationVehicle to serve self-interestsBetter, smarter, superior, and the purpose of all gratificationSource of justification, those ideas that serve “my” best interests, can be adapted to need
Principles Equal partner in a mutually beneficial, interdependent relationshipFriends, opportunities for service, contribution, fulfillment, intergenerational re-scripting and changeEnabling resource to accomplish important priorities and goalsOpportunity to use talents and abilities meaningfully, means to provide, resource and time investment kept in balance with other investments and harmonized with priorities and values in lifeEnabling resources, responsibilities to be properly cared for, secondary to people in importanceJoy that comes from almost any activity in a focused life, true recreation considered necessary to a balanced lifestyleCompanions in interdependent living, confidants to share with, serve and supportNo real perceived “enemies”, just people with different paradigms or agendas to be understood and cared aboutVehicles for true principles, opportunities for service/contributionOne unique, talented, creative individual among many who can accomplish great things independently and interdependentlyImmutable natural laws with immutable consequences, preserves integrity which leads to legitimate growth and happiness
  • Only principle-based centers lead to healthy long-term aspirations.

Every extremely successful person in this world has a very specific attitude:
  • Finds pleasure in audacity and defiance (which is sometimes original)
  • Has an iron will that can express as passionate hatred
  • Holds an obsessive, extreme conviction that they have the one and only truth
  • Believes in their destiny and luck
  • Holds contempt for the present situation
  • Has a clever understanding of human nature
  • Enjoys symbolic spectacles and ceremonies
  • Has a track record of winning that draws the complete loyalty of capable people

We change our beliefs through daily reinforcement, which usually takes years.

When we’re trying to succeed, we must slowly adapt our beliefs every day.

The correct beliefs for the situation use at least some of the following non-exclusive concepts.

Make an appropriate sacrifice

Focus on your strengths:
  • As we keep attempting things, we’ll learn pretty quickly what we’re good at.
  • Our impulse is to decrease our weaknesses, but we’ll get more results by magnifying our strengths.
  • Foster relationships with people around you who are strong where you’re weak.

Go for results that endure:
  • Keep an eye on how you can most positively affect the future.
  • Aim for things nobody can take away from you:
    • Understanding and skills
    • Aspects of your reputation tied to your competence and character
  • Avoid secondary gain (things you can get through lying or embellishing reality).
    • The opposite of success is name-dropping.
    • More secondary gain often creates long-term risks to legitimate success later.

Success often requires full investment:
  • Success looks a lot easier when you’re planning it, so you’re guaranteed to underestimate the work:
    • Money, time, energy
    • Pain from self-discipline
    • Social sacrifices like lost friends and difficulty relating
    • Lost opportunities from other forsaken decisions (opportunity cost)
    • The feeling of being unimportant, underappreciated, or disappointed
    • Late nights, early mornings, multitasking, or uncomfortable sacrifices
  • You’re not lucky.
    • You are lucky in one sense: you can read nearly every written work that has historically survived, with technology that connects you across the planet to nearly anyone.
    • But, if you were lucky, you wouldn’t have to work hard because life would hand itself to you.
    • Since you’re unlucky, don’t wait for opportunities to happen.
      • Assume the odds are always stacked against you.
    • Increase your chances as much as humanly possible:
      1. Grow as much as possible from every experience.
      2. Stay positive about what may happen.
      3. Take advantage of everything you can.
      4. Overwork beyond what you need.

Success always requires full effort:
  • When we perform adequately, but not our best, we’re still partly responsible for the consequences.
    • If you do your absolute best, even when you don’t see results, you’ll rest well at night.
    • While not everything is your fault, many things are still your responsibility, and neglecting them will be your fault.
  • The margins determine success:
    • The difference between a C and an A on a test is 11–(~13 kg)19%.
    • Eating 200 calories less every day will generate a net loss of ~28 pounds (~13 kg) across one year.
    • In the MLB, the average player’s batting average is ~28.3%, and the Hall of Fame starts at 30.2%.
    • The Pareto Principle, or 80/20 Rule, says the most significant effects come from 20% of the causes.
  • We must believe we can succeed, or we’re wasting our time.

Success is often lonely:
  • The tasks for working on most projects often involve hours and days of complete solitude.
  • Choosing to succeed can often create rejection.
    • Most of your close family and friends will expect you to fulfill a preconceived role.
    • Unless the people around you are also succeeding, you’ll outpace and lose relationships with them.
    • If an endeavor is particularly unexpected, it’s not uncommon to face denials and disinterest.
  • Most people are too insecure or afraid to accept the social sacrifices of success.
  • People generally want you to succeed up to their level, but preferably a little less.
    • Expect loneliness until you find people who are confident enough to accept your successes.

Focus your decisions on yourself

You can only control your decisions:
  • Your only true power is through your current choices.
  • You alone are responsible for changing previous choices you’ve made, even when they weren’t your fault.
    • If you’re angry with others, you’re obsessing over their past actions and submitting your will to them.
  • If the past decisions created the present, current decisions will create the future.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others, and don’t measure your efforts against others’.
  • Instead of wanting fewer problems or that life was easier, learn to desire more skills.

Excuses don’t matter:
  • Nobody cares about your feelings as much as you do.
    • The world usually judges behavior, not intent.
    • While self-identifying as a victim may create change, it’s not an accomplishment.
  • Most people restate the same tired reasons why they don’t believe they can do something:
    • “I’m not ready” — nobody ever is
    • “I’m not good enough” — you can always become good enough
    • “I don’t have enough time” — you can make time
    • “I don’t have enough money” — your creativity and resolve can overcome it
    • “I’m not sure what to do” — you’ll learn in time
    • “I don’t have the credentials/degree/training” — nobody cares as much as you think they do
    • “I don’t have equipment” — other people can share it with you
    • “I’m not in the right location” — move if it matters to you
    • “I don’t have the network/reputation/work history” — 3–4 hours of intentional networking a day will fix that
    • “It’s too crazy” — most celebrated success stories were once “impossible”
    • “I’m not talented/gifted enough” — most successful people are mediocre
    • “If I work hard, I’ll succeed no matter what” — focus on the value you add, not how much you do
    • “I want to be a great family person” — a great parent has a great career
    • “I’m all alone” — other successful people have been in your situation
  • If you unconsciously want to fail, you’ll seek advice so you have someone to blame for your failure.
  • Your desires probably are as scary and daunting as you feel, but you’re stronger than you think.
    • You can identify your suffering, but that isn’t “you”.
    • With the right mental management, your feelings can help as much as they can hinder you.

At the same time, focus your goals away from yourself:
  • “Follow your passion” is terrible advice: an endeavor that’s simply for yourself is well-worded selfishness.
  • The only value and meaning we get from our tasks comes from how we feel responsible for serving others’ interests.
    • True improvement of the “self” requires shifting focus to the “other”.
    • Even certain “selfish” things, like self-reliance, can be broken away from self-centered thoughts.
  • You don’t “deserve” others’ moral conduct, respect, friendship, love, courtesy, or understanding.
    • Instead, you must work to find those who are willing to grant it.

Change your views

Intelligence and effort don’t matter as much as new ideas:
  • Success needs attitudes that permit new ideas to grow.
  • While intelligent and hard-working people have an advantage, anyone who can use clever ideas in a seemingly conventional situation can succeed.

Focus on “growth”, not “status”:
  • Status is expensive to maintain, but growth is comparatively cheap to upkeep.
  • When you focus on where things are, you’re not paying attention to how things are changing.
  • By observing what changes instead of what stays the same, you’re more likely to notice small, important movements.

Succeeding requires admitting you had incorrect beliefs:
  • Common sense is the set of prejudices acquired by adulthood, so most of them are half-truths.
  • Spend more money on self-education than on creature comforts.
  • You will have to change all your beliefs at some point or another.
    • Most of the time, it’s a critical, small detail you failed to observe.
    • Even fools often observe reality correctly, so avoid throwing out the ideas with the person.
  • All success requires gaining wisdom (aka applied knowledge).
    • We tend to easily see others’ bias more than our own, so it’s critical to accept others’ input about our thoughts.
    • Seek understanding, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
      • Look at others’ points of view before your own.
      • Prioritize wisdom over trivia.
      • Failure stories can often give as much wisdom as success stories.
    • Read and research anything you’re interested in, even if it’s unrelated to what you’re presently working on.
  • Learn to criticize yourself before your critics do.
  • Seek advice everywhere.
  • At the same time, don’t sabotage what you do know.
    • Self-criticism is only useful if it gives you something to measurably do better.
    • If you believe you’re less competent than others think, you have a healthy amount of hesitancy and are likely not overstepping yourself.

More than anything else, work to grow:
  • While it’s straightforward for us to look at ourselves and our environment by some sort of fixed status, that viewpoint is wrong.
  • In reality, everything is in a perpetual state of fluctuation, either growing or fading.
  • We must see everything through the lens of change if we’re going to easily accept that changes can happen.
  • This mindset expands itself into how we see and treat others.

Change is always good:
  • Being alive means constant change, so doing nothing is essentially wasting life.
  • Our instinct is to fight change and justify or reinforce familiar things, which makes sense because it represents an unknown amount of risk.
  • But, we can embrace change if we believe a circumstance creates opportunities or a chance to learn.
  • Successful people develop an intuition to position themselves to use changes to their greatest advantage.
  • Since most things rarely follow our plans, expect every plan or expectation to change.
  • If you’re uncomfortable, you’re likely changing, which means you’re probably moving in the right direction.

Perfect is the enemy of good:
  • Getting something done adequately today is better than a perfect solution in the future.
  • Nobody is perfect.
    • Aspire for “good enough”, but stop there and move on.

Don’t try to “visualize success”:
  • If you imagine succeeding, you’re ignoring the ways you can fail.
    • We can easily convince ourselves that we’re capable of things we’re not.
  • To mentally prepare for something, work to gain wisdom instead.
  • While “finding a passion” may be good, self-discipline is far more important.

Get ready to break rules:
  • Rules eliminate extremes, both good and bad.
  • You must follow many rules to succeed, but you’ll need to break rules at some point.
  • The rules you do break can become a defining moment of glory or misery, depending on how the results play out.

Learn to persevere

Life on this planet is too short to obsess about hypotheticals:
  • We’re all slowly dying, and we only have some control over it beyond managing risks.
  • A full life is approximately 78 years:
    • 28.3 years of sleeping (assuming 8 hours per night)
    • 10.5 years working a job (assuming full-time)
    • 9 years of consuming entertainment
    • 6 years doing chores
    • 4 years of eating and drinking
    • 3.5 years of learning in a school setting
    • 2.5 years grooming
    • 2.5 years shopping
    • 1.5 years of raising children
    • 1.3 years commuting
    • 9 years left over as “free time”
  • We fulfill most of our non-survival purposes through that extra leisure time.
  • Time is the ultimate equalizer: everyone gets the same 24 every day until the last.
  • Life is short enough that we’ll regret the chances we didn’t take far more than the opportunities we took and failed.
  • For this reason, being young is more of a strength than a risk because you have time to fail and learn from those mistakes.

The tasks in front of you are all you have:
  • If what you’re striving for is a good thing, then your sacrifices are worth the attempt.
  • We tend to get distracted by conflicting views:
    • Vague goals or noncommittal approach
    • Disorganization
    • Low self-esteem or a poor self-image
    • Exaggerating our fears or downplaying benefits
  • The more we know, the less we tend to do something.
    • Push past fear by simply taking action.
  • Learn to push distractions from success out of your mind:
    • 90% of what scares you can’t conceivably happen.
    • Avoid overthinking your decisions, especially when you can’t know.
    • Ignore your competition beyond how they affect your decisions.
    • Ignore your fears beyond what they can teach you.
    • Distance yourself from your past mistakes by committing to avoid those actions in the future.
    • Don’t dwell on what other people are thinking or might say.
    • Disregard potential risks you can’t do anything about.
    • Avoid conflicting goals (e.g., “spend more time outdoors” and “build my business”).

The initial results will come quickly:
  • If your goals are small enough, you can succeed relatively quickly.
  • You can become adequate at just about anything within 20 hours:
    1. Dissect the skill into tiny pieces.
    2. Learn enough to self-correct and self-edit as you practice.
      • Notice your mistakes and change as you see them.
      • Surround yourself with people who can teach you.
    3. Remove any barriers to practice.
      • Don’t obsess about details while you’re still learning.
      • Find ways to force yourself to practice.
  • Twenty intentional, devoted hours will get you past the frustration barrier.
    • The frustration barrier is where you stop feeling stupid and incompetent at it.
    • Most people never get past the frustration barrier.
    • Twenty hours is 30 minutes a day for 40 days.
    • It might take 10,000 hours of practice to become perfect, but you won’t usually need that much expertise.

Success requires tenacity:
  • Most successful people learn to find pleasure in setbacks and obstructions.
    • Success is often a numbers game of repeatedly trying until you break through.
    • Even if you fail, the fact that you’re taking on challenges is growing you.
  • Staying optimistic requires pursuing a vision somewhat untouched by reality.
    • Even if you’re delusional, you’re still trying to work toward something that’ll improve your situation.
  • Even when we don’t begin with much self-discipline, we can learn to persevere.

Do as much research as possible:
  • Learn how other people have failed and succeeded, which may require changing your hobbies to reading or watching more.
  • Use the internet to connect with people who have succeeded, and try to learn as much as you can from them.

The rewards won’t feel as fulfilling as you expected:
  • Don’t expect overwhelming pleasure from succeeding.
    • Expecting an outcome tends to give us more excitement and enjoyment than receiving it (journey > destination).
    • Many successful people never learn to appreciate their victories.
    • In fact, most successful people fail to carry on to more successes because they become too satisfied with their lives.
  • Don’t expect commendation for what you did.
    • Success typically requires doing many non-public things.
    • You’ll succeed long before anyone else sees the results.
    • We want importance, but success often doesn’t guarantee it.
    • Without staying positive, we usually become bitter long before we succeed.

Change your community

Drop anyone who sabotages your success:
  • Friends and family who discourage your vision without a suitable alternative
  • Rivals and “frenemies”
  • Anyone who criticizes without any clear advice toward alternative decisions

Your success guarantees you’ll become part of a diverse network of achievers and overcomers:
  • You will become the sum of the five people you associate with the most.
    • If you want motivated people, you’ll have to find them, not motivate them.
  • Always search for mentors, associates, and anyone else who can teach, inspire, or grow you.
    • If you can’t find a mentor, make a piecemeal mentor by combining the best components you want to model.
    • When you can’t find a good mentor model, simply use the opposite of everything you hate about those around you.
  • They will discourage bad decisions, create possible plans, and support you when you get discouraged.
    • Healthy people never criticize failures toward good things.
  • Seek criticism, not praise.
    • Accept praise for your effort, but not your natural skill.
    • Welcome constructive criticism, since it shows problems and gives answers to them.
    • Try to view feedback on the merit of its idea alone and not on who gives it.

Draw toward successful people:
  • Who has the most power over others and the group dynamics?
  • Who has lunch with whom?
  • Who is or isn’t invited to important meetings?
  • Who seems to expect coming changes, and who seems to know last?
  • What changes are coming, and how must each person change to adapt?

Never underestimate your attitude

After you’ve taken the time to find the correct attitude, you can finally set realistic goals!

This page is Part 2 of How To Succeed. Part 1 was Defining Success.