It’s a brand New Year, a clean slate, a time to reflect on goals, and reinvigorate our thinking – right? And with that, I’ve decided to compile an A to Z list of the characteristics that seem to help perpetuate success. It’s a list that I hope will guide you whether you are out there ranching, are a recent college graduate embarking on a new career, or have the toughest job on earth and are trying to do it all – a family, a ranch and an additional career.

Through my writing endeavors I’ve been fortunate to travel to many events and listen to many sage individuals both from within the ag industry – and many from other industries. It’s been a great opportunity to glean some golden nuggets. So, let’s begin with the letter A, and I’ll leave you guessing what B might be until the next American Cowman newsletter on January 28.

It should come as no surprise that A is for Attitude. The importance of a positive attitude first sparked my attention when I was a high school FFA student and attended the Washington Conference Leadership Program in our nation’s capital. It was here I heard a powerful quote attributed to minister and author Charles Swindoll. It was this:

“Attitude is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.

It will make or break a company, a home, a relationship. The remarkable thing is we have a choice, every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that other people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

It was that last sentence that stayed with me: “…life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” Rather than dwell on the past or a problem, I realized that a positive attitude and seeking solutions is what moves you forward and, ultimately makes life more enjoyable and successful.

Think about it, don’t you enjoy being around someone who has inspiring “can-do” attitude? Why not be one of those people? When we view the world with a positive attitude, it certainly becomes our oyster.

This point has been driven home to me time and again over the years. Another of my favorite quotes that speaks about the power of attitude is the following: “If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don’t. If you’d like to win, but think you can’t; It’s almost a cinch you won t. Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man; But sooner or later the man who wins is the one who thinks he can.”

Most recently I read a short article comparing why some people seem to have all the luck while others are perpetually unlucky? What’s the difference? The article went on to say it’s all about attitude. Here’s a summation from the piece:

Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire was determined to get to the scientific bottom of the phenomenon of luck. He placed advertisements in national newspapers asking for people who felt consistently lucky or unlucky to contact him.

Hundreds of extraordinary men and women volunteered for the research and, Wiseman interviewed them over several years, monitored their lives and had them take part in experiments.

At the conclusion of his research, Wiseman reports that the results revealed that although these people have almost no insight into the causes of their luck, their thoughts and behaviour were responsible for much of their good or bad fortune – essentially it was their attitude.

He gives the example of seemingly chance opportunities. Lucky people consistently encounter such opportunities, whereas unlucky people do not. Wiseman says, “I carried out a simple experiment to discover whether this was due to differences in their ability to spot such opportunities. I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. I had secretly placed a large message halfway through the newspaper saying: ‘Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $50.’”

This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was more than two inches high. It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it.

Unlucky people are generally more tense than lucky people, and this anxiety disrupts their ability to notice the unexpected, he concluded. Wiseman has authored a book on his findings. It is titled The Luck Factor.

Bottomline: A positive attitude is everything – no matter what your age. And the best part of all is that we each have the power to choose to be upbeat, optimistic and inspiring. Remember “…life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”