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Short Summary Of The Book:
Building a positive attitude
There was a man who made a living selling balloon at a fair. He had all colors of
balloons, including red, yellow, blue, and green. Whenever business was slow, he would
release a helium-filled balloon into the air and when the children saw it go up, they all
wanted to buy one. They would come up to him, buy a balloon, and his sales would go up
again. He continued this process all day. One day, he felt someone tugging at his jacket.
He turned around and saw a little boy who asked, “If you release a black balloon, would
that also fly?” Moved by the boy’s concern, the man replied with empathy, “Son, it is not
the color of the balloon, it is what is inside that makes it go up.”
The same thing applies to our lives. It is what is inside that counts. The thing inside of us
that makes us go up is our attitude.
Have you ever wondered why some individuals, organizations, or countries are more
successful than others?
It is not a secret. These people simply think and act more effectively. They have learned
how to do so by investing in the most valuable asset–people. I believe that the success
of an individual, organization or country, depends on the quality of their people.
I have spoken to executives in major corporations all over the world and asked one
question: “If you had a magic wand and there was one thing you would want changed,
that would give you a cutting edge in the marketplace resulting in increased productivity
and profits, what would that be?” The answer was unanimous. They all said that if people
had better attitudes, they’d be better team players, and it’d cut down waste, improve
loyalty and, in general, make their company a great place to work.
William James of Harvard University said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is
that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”
Experience has shown that human resources is the most valuable asset of any business.
It is more valuable than capital or equipment. Unfortunately, it is also the most wasted.
People can be your biggest asset or your biggest liability.
TQP–TOTAL QUALITY PEOPLE
Having been exposed to a number of training programs, such as customer service,
selling skills, and strategic planning, I have come to the conclusion that all these are
great programs with one major challenge: None of them works unless they have the right
foundation, and the right foundation is TQP. What is TQP? TQP is Total Quality People–
people with character, integrity, good values, and a positive attitude.
Don’t get me wrong. You do need all the other programs, but they will only work when
you have the right foundation, and the foundation is TQP. For example, some customer
service programs teach participants to say “please,” and “thank-you,” give smiles and
handshakes. But how long can a person keep on a fake smile if he does not have the
desire to serve? Besides, people can see through him. And if the smile is not sincere, it is
irritating. My point is, there has to be substance over form, not form over substance.
Without a doubt, one does need to remember “please” and “thank-you,” the smiles, etc.–
they are very important. But keep in mind that they come a lot easier when accompanied
by a desire to serve.
Someone once approached Blaise Pascal, the famous French philosopher and said, “If I
had your brains, I would be a better person.” Pascal replied, “Be a better person and you
will have my brains.”
The Calgary Tower stands at 190.8 meters. The total weight of the tower is 10,884 tons,
of which 6,349 tons is below ground (approximately 60%). This shows that some of the
greatest buildings have the strongest foundations. Just like a great building stands on a
strong foundation, so does success. And the foundation of success is attitude.
YOUR ATTITUDE CONTRIBUTES TO SUCCESS
A study attributed to Harvard University found that when a person gets a job, 85% of the
time it is because of their attitude, and only 15% of the time because of how smart they
are and how many facts and figures they know. Surprisingly, almost 100% of education
dollars go to teach facts and figures which account for only 15% of success in work!
This book is all about that 85% of success. Attitude is the most important word in the
English language. It applies to every sphere of life, including one’s personal and
professional life. Can an executive be a good executive without a good attitude? Can a
student be a good student without a good attitude? Can a parent, teacher, salesman,
employer, employee be good in their roles without a good attitude?
The foundation of success regardless of your chosen field is attitude.
If the attitude is such a critical factor in success, shouldn’t you examine your attitude toward
life and ask how your attitude will affect your goals?
ACRES OF DIAMONDS
There was a farmer in Africa who was happy and content. He was happy because he
was content. He was content because he was happy. One day a wise man came to him
and told him about the glory of diamonds and the power that goes along with them. The
wise man said, “If you had a diamond the size of your thumb, you could have your own
city. If you had a diamond the size of your fist, you could probably own your own
country.” And then he went away. That night the farmer couldn’t sleep. He was unhappy
and he was discontent. He was unhappy because he was discontent and discontent
because he was unhappy.
The next morning he made arrangements to sell off his farm, took care of his family and
went in search of diamonds. He looked all over Africa and couldn’t find any. He looked all
through Europe and couldn’t find any. When he got to Spain, he was emotionally,
physically and financially broke. He got so disheartened that he threw himself into the
Barcelona River and committed suicide.
Back home, the person who had bought his farm was watering the camels at a stream
that ran through the farm. Across the stream, the rays of the morning sun hit a stone and
made it sparkle like a rainbow. He thought it would look good on the mantle piece. He
picked up the stone and put it in the living room. That afternoon the wise man came and
saw the stone sparkling. He asked, “Is Hafiz back?” The new owner said, “No, why do
you ask?” The wise man said, “Because that is a diamond. I recognize one when I see
one.” The man said, no, that’s just a stone I picked up from the stream. Come, I’ll show
you. There are many more.” They went and picked some samples and sent them for
analysis. Sure enough, the stones were diamonds. They found that the farm was indeed
covered with acres and acres of diamonds.*
What is the moral of this story?
There are five morals:
1. When our attitude is right, we realize that we are all walking on acres and acres of
- Attributed to Dr Russel Conwell .
- Opportunity is always under our feet. We don’t have to go anywhere. All we need
to do is recognize it.
2. The grass on the other side always looks greener.
3. While we are dyeing the grass on the other side, there are others who are dyeing the
grass on our side. They would be happy to trade places with us.
4. When people don’t know how to recognize opportunity, they complain of noise when it
5. The same opportunity never knocks twice. The next one may be better or worse, but it
is never the same one.
DAVID AND GOLIATH
We all know the story of David and Goliath. There was a giant who was bullying and
harassing the children in the village. One day, a 17-year-old shepherd boy came to visit
his brothers and asked, “Why don’t you stand up and fight the giant?” The brothers were
terrified and they replied, “Don’t you see he is too big to hit?” But David said, “No, he is
not too big to hit, he is too big to miss.” The rest is history. We all know what happened.
David killed the giant with a sling. Same giant, different perception.
Our attitude determines how we look at a setback. To a positive thinker, it can be a
stepping stone to success. To a negative thinker, it can be a stumbling block.
Great organizations are not measured by wages and working conditions, they are
measured by feelings, attitudes and relationships.
When employees say, “I can’t do it,” there are two possible meanings. Are they saying
they don’t know how to or they don’t want to? If they don’t know how to, that is a training
issue. If they are saying they don’t want to,
it may be an attitude issue (they don’t care) or a values issue (they believe they should
not do it).
A HOLISTIC APPROACH
I believe in the holistic approach. We are not an arm and a leg, but a complete human
being. The whole person goes to work and the whole person comes home. We take
family problems to work and work problems to the family. What happens when we take
family problems to work? Our stress level goes up and productivity comes down.
Similarly, work and social problems have an impact on every aspect of our lives.
Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it
to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and
clear and firm.
FACTORS THAT DETERMINE OUR ATTITUDE
Are we born with attitudes or do we develop them as we mature? What are the factors
that form our attitudes?
If you have a negative outlook on life because of your environment, can you change your
attitude? Most of our attitude is shaped during our formative years.
There are primarily three factors that determine our attitude. They are:
These are called the triple Es of attitude. Let’s evaluate each of the factors individually.
The environment consists of the following:
- Home: positive or negative influences
- School: peer pressure
- Work: supportive or over critical supervisor
- Media: television, newspapers, magazines, radio, movies
- Cultural background
- Religious background
- Traditions and beliefs
- Social environment
- Political environment
All of these environments create a culture. Every place be it a home, organization or a
the country has a culture.
Have you noticed that sometimes you go to a store and you find the salesperson polite,
the supervisor, manager, and owner polite as well? Yet you go to another shop and you
find everyone rude and discourteous.
You go to a home and you find the kids and parents well-behaved, courteous and
considerate. You go to another home where everyone is fighting like cats and dogs.
In countries where the government and political environment is honest, generally, you will
find that the people are honest, law-abiding and helpful. And the reverse is true too. In a
corrupt environment, an honest person has a tough time. Whereas in an honest
environment, the corrupt one has a tough time.
In a positive environment, a marginal performer’s output goes up. In a negative
environment, a good performer’s output goes down.
Culture in any place always goes top-down, never bottom up. We need to step back and
look at what kind of environment we have created for ourselves and those around us. It is
tough to expect positive behavior in a negative environment. Where lawlessness
becomes the law, honest citizens become cheats, crooks, and thieves.
Isn’t it time to evaluate the environment that we are in or we have created for others?