Launch 2014 Prepared for Success: It’s All about Attitude

Mary Keeley

Blogger: Mary Keeley

The 2014 winter Olympics begins in five weeks. Athletes have overcome all sorts of competitive odds to land them a trip to Sochi, Russia for their ultimate chance to win a medal. Winners will be determined by milliseconds and hundredths of points. At that level the game is all about mental endurance based on attitude.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself beginning the year in training for the next levels in your writing Olympics. If that thought brings anything but a smile to your face and exhilaration to your spirit, the first area of training to tackle is your attitude. A positive attitude affects everything else. Businessman, philanthropist, and author, W. Clement Stone, had this to say:

 “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”Attitude_262934_zoom_double_Attitude

This isn’t some new revelation. We’ve all seen posters titled “Attitude” with inspiring images like the climber at the top of the mountain peak. However, what those posters don’t show are the grueling increments of endurance involved on the way to the top. This is what I want to address today. Check out this quote by pastor, author, and radio personality, Chuck Swindoll:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts…. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.”

And this comment by comedian, actor, and writer, W. C. Fields:

“Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.”

Here are some traits of a positive attitude in writers:

·         Humility. At first glance, this may seem like an odd trait to begin with, but it’s really the foundation. Gratefulness to God for gifting you with the ability and passion to write for his glory, combined with your recognition that he is in charge of timing and your outcomes for his purposes frees you for…

·         A joyful heart. Celebrate every small achievement in your craft. Be willing to help other writers, and be truly happy for other authors’ successes. The first two traits create an environment conducive for gaining…

·         Confidence. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Your sense of assurance is in God. You are in charge of setting…

·         Reachable goals for improvement. It’s inspiring to keep your ultimate dream in front of you. The image of the climber at the top of the mountain or the athlete on the winner’s platform receiving the gold medal…or the author with a brand new contract. But I’m focusing today on the incremental steps of endurance toward making that dream a reality. Like pitons that help the climber advance up the mountain, reachable goals within a determined time frame will keep you moving forward and reinforce a positive attitude through tangible evidence of your progress.  

Approach 2014 prayerfully. And as you watch the Olympics next month, I encourage you to study the athletes’ determination and resolve. Let their images be a reminder to you throughout the year. Whether you are at the beginning of your publishing journey, trying to overcome poor sales to gain the next contract, or at the top of your game, attitude always matters. Coach Lou Holtz once said:

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

Can you identify additional traits that contribute to a winning attitude? What positive actions do you take when you feel your endurance slipping? What erodes your positive attitude that you need to guard against?

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49 Comments

  • Micky Wolf says:

    Beautiful, Mary! Wonderful inspiration to begin the new year. And I love–and need–the reminder of Hebrews 4:16 as the source and provision for the confidence necessary to remain positive and be productive. Thank you!

  • Being watchful contributes to a winning attitude. We can map out our hopes for the route to success, but God may have a different path in mind.

    “Approach 2014 prayerfully” is a wonderful step in seeing the blessings and opportunities God has in store for our writing.

    I especially love Proverbs 3:5-6.
    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
    It is a great reminder to do our best (in all our ways), in submission to his plan. Doesn’t it just give you goosebumps to think of his plan for our writing (so much better that we can ever imagine)!

    • Mary Keeley Mary Keeley says:

      So true, Carol. Following our own plan without sensitivity to God’s plan often leads to a dead end. Proverbs 3:5-6 gives the antidote, a true north compass. Thanks for sharing.

  • Happy New Year! Thank you for this post, Mary. I think of “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” Phil 2:5 … and I know I need an attitude check. Thank you for the reminder to approach 2014 prayerfully.

    Blessed by you.

  • Happy New Year!

    For me, the commitment to persevere through the hard stuff is extremely important. Not just around the muck and the mire, but through it. Short-cuts only work if the risk is low and the only thing to be saved is time. I don’t quit easily. Or much at all.
    And do not tell me that I cannot do something. Don’t pat my head and suggest that maybe I should just hush up and stay in the beige section when I want to go live in the bright colours.
    It is not the passive, genteel, shadow-fearing, spooks when the toast pops, polyester person who succeeds, it’s the ‘boots, hat, sunscreen, passport and compass at the ready’ adventurer who gets the gold.
    When I feel the erosion coming, I lean on God, my husband, my writer friends, and even a few normals who know me well, have a indulgent hissy fit, then I quote Edna Mode in my head and pull it together.
    I try to remind myself that life is NOT all about writing, but then I snap out of it and laugh that foolishness right off…;)

  • Good morning, and welcome to 2014 – you’ve given some very good guidance – thank you!

    I’d like to add few suggestions:

    Perspective – there is no correlation between happiness and success…except that to be happy is the ultimate success.

    Gratitude – be grateful for what is in your life now, and don’t “wish it away” by placing your heart wholly in your work.

    Acceptance – there will be hard periods. I was a runner, and some days I had to will my body through the motions because my gait simply didn’t come naturally.

    MYOB – don’t compare yourself with others, for therein is the seed of jealousy.

    Obedience – the ultimate plan for your life is that of the Almighty. If you want more than anything to be a writer, yet other things crop up that have a valid claim on your attention…is He trying to tell you something?

    When I feel confidence slipping I don’t try to pump it up – I focus on the rest of my life, which (despite a few trials) is good. Putting things into balance allows confidence to regenerate naturally.

    Finally – what erodes a positive attitude more than anything is allowing too much contemporary secularism into my world. I find that I run aground in its shallowness.

  • Happy New Year, Mary!

    Our family loves the Olympics! Your post today reminded me of one of my favorite Olympic moments–the 1996 Atlanta games when little Kerri Strug overcame a devastating ankle injury to claim the gold medal(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZRYiOa5lM8). I’ll always remember this young lady’s attitude and heart.

    I focus on the positive through favorite scriptures and the meat of God’s word. While His timing doesn’t always mesh with mine, I try to remember that His plan is perfect and meant for our good. (Jer 29:11)

    • I can’t even peel off a bandaid with wincing. Kerry Strug is a rock star!
      Although, *I* am taller than her.I sure hope she gets over that…

      ;)

    • Mary Keeley Mary Keeley says:

      Ah…that’s a winning attitude, Cynthia. It explains your ever positive attitude.

    • I remember that, too.

      It’s important to realize that the pain she knew she would experience would not have been an unknown. Through years of training, she was familiar with injury, and knew that the pain she would experience did have a limit. That limit was beyond what we might endure, but she could journey there – and back.

      I think a writer develops something of the same quality of endurance by writing through difficult times. You’ll learn that writer’s block has an end, and that you can reach it.

      (It’s NOT right to compare physical pain with that of rejection. I’ve been shot, knifed, and blown up, and I would far prefer a rejection email.)

      Oh. Impaled, to. That was the worst.

      • Oh my word. I know about the last bit of this comment, but it still un-nerves me, to no end.

      • So blessed to start 2014 with you, Mary, and an inspiring post to boot. :)

        When I was on my Junior Leader’s Course in the military, the instructor’s threw as much mental and physical garbage our way in their attempt to see if we had the right stuff to be leaders. Apparently I did because I finished 3rd out of 121 candidates. If I had to attribute my success to one word, it would be … ADAPTABLE. The ability to be receptive to changing Orders whether from an Officer or Editor go a long way toward ensuring your goal is successful.

  • Lori says:

    Humor would be my suggestion. You should not take yourself too seriously (which by the way can be one of my biggest faults). You will make mistakes along the way so learn to accept them. It helps to find the humor in your mistake and grow from there. You need to be able to laugh at yourself.

  • Sarah Thomas says:

    I’d add an eagerness to share–lessons learned, expertise, comfort, a sturdy shoulder . . .

  • Welcome back. Wonderful way to start the new year. Should I dare admit I am not a positive person? I don’t let too much get me down, but I don’t see the glass as half full most of the time.

    Rejections can bum me out, but I only allow it for a day. Then I have to get right back to work because time is too precious to waste. I find reading the Book of Job helps change my attitude. The way he stayed true to his faith inspires me to work beyond my obstacles.

  • Mary Keeley Mary Keeley says:

    Cheryl, you might not see the glass half full, but it doesn’t sound like you focus on the glass half empty either. Humanly speaking, that puts you in the realistic middle.

    Getting rejections is definitely a bummer for any author. But your discipline to limit the reaction time to one day is a great example to follow.

  • Jenny Leo says:

    Happy new year, Mary! This message is encouraging to me as I’ve just received a round of judge feedback from a contest. As seems to be my pattern with writing contests, two judges scored my entry very high and one judge scored it very low, with nobody in the neutral middle. Especially as I read through the more negative feedback, I find it helpful to repeat (over and over, broken-record style…now there’s a dated reference!:)) “What can I learn from this?”

    • Jenny, I’m right there with you about the feedback. Taking time to mull over the suggestions and, with discernment and direction from the Lord, apply the needed changes.

    • Mary Keeley Mary Keeley says:

      Jenny, first compare the feedback to see if you received praise from the two judges for the same thing(s) the low-scoring judge had negative feedback. The low-scoring judge may just have been having a bad day. Or maybe he or she was blurry-eyed after reading ten other contest submissions. Unfortunately, it happens occasionally.

      If after weighing the good comments against the negative ones, you feel that judge’s views have merit, you’ll be blessed to know specific areas to make your manuscript even better.

  • So blessed to start 2014 with you, Mary, and an inspiring post to boot. :)

    When I was on my Junior Leader’s Course in the military, the instructor’s threw as much mental and physical garbage our way in their attempt to see if we had the right stuff to be leaders. Apparently I did because I finished 3rd out of 121 candidates. If I had to attribute my success to one word, it would be … ADAPTABLE. The ability to be receptive to changing Orders whether from an Officer or Editor go a long way toward ensuring your goal is successful.

  • So glad to hang out here again. Welcome back Mary!

    For me, introspection is a double edged sword. Story is planted and expands within, but there also is where doubt takes up residence, and once it appears it has a tendency to infiltrate if not doused with a large amount of truth and hope.
    I’ve struggled with this very thing lately, so I really appreciate your reminder to draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.

  • Thanks for this great post! 2013 was a year of growth for me as a writer, and I hope that 2014 is as well. Thanks for putting humility on your list of positive attitude traits. That’s one I’ve been keeping in mind. I hope I always recognize that any successes I may have in writing or anywhere else are only because of the Lord.

  • Lynn Hare says:

    Hi Mary, great blog post! I connect the most with having a joyful heart! I want to release joy and laughter where I go. I would add having a heart of encouragement. It’s my intent to share with people words that will strengthen them in their identity and move them to a closer understanding of who they are in Christ. And to smile more. ;0)

    • Mary Keeley Mary Keeley says:

      I resonate with those intentions, Lynn. And there is much joy to be had in encouraging others. A focus toward encouraging others is a positive way to avoid taking yourself too seriously.

  • I’m always fascinated by the Olympians! So many key pieces of the puzzle have to fit together for them to make it that far. Ability, attitude, people who believe in them, etc. I’m always encouraged when I watch the Olympics.

    For me, attitude is everything. I can’t control which judges like my entries, which editors want to take a chance on my manuscript, or which readers fall in love with my characters. What I can control is how I react to their opinions (whether good or bad), and how I proceed. I always try to look for the kernel (or mound) of truth in a rejection and figure out how to do better next time. I might give myself a day or two to allow my emotions to come back into focus–but I don’t wallow in it for long. Before I set my manuscript out there for others to read, I have to settle a matter in my heart–or my attitude will deflate. The matter I have to settle is believing in my talent, in my skills, and in my calling. If those matters aren’t settled, I may flounder under other people’s opinions. But when those things are firmly established in my heart, I can keep my attitude in its proper place.

  • Enjoyed your post, Mary, and all the comments too. Way back when I was first beginning to try for publication, I came across a quote that made a difference in my work attitude. I’ve looked and never found it again, so who knows? Maybe I made it up. But it was about how rejections and acceptances both should be treated as imposters since either one might throw you off track. The acceptances by having you let up on your attempt to improve and the rejections by discouraging you from trying again. Perseverance – that’s always been my by-word on how to approach my writing goals. Sometimes it’s taken a lot of stubborn will to persevere and have that attitude of endurance.

  • Lori Benton says:

    Wonderful post, Mary, and I agree completely. I love that quote from Swindoll especially. I was attempting to communicate that very thing to someone in recent days, but with far less eloquence.

  • “Feast, and your halls are crowded.

    Fast, and the world goes by.

    Succeed and give, and it helps you live.

    But no man can help you die”

    ― Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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