Adjust your Attitude

self confidenceAs we move towards year, and decade, end its a usual time to reflect and make plans (dare I say resolutions!) for 2010.  Last year, in When New Year Resolutions Break Down, I discussed not getting too hung up on 1st January as being the only time to set goals.  The more important part of that opening sentence is reflect – what can we learn from our experiences.

My own period of reflection is still a "work in progress", but one thing I'm going to work on in 2010 is my attitude. Self confidence is nothing if not an attitude – and what attitude you adopt is under your control. Here are a couple of examples.

Gill Hicks

Originally from Australia, Gill Hicks has lived in London since 1992.  Her life was totally transformed by the terrorist attack on London in July 2005 ("7/7") – as Gill put it she "started life number 2".  Standing close to the suicide bomber, she lost both her legs and nearly died – losing 80% of her blood and suffering 3 cardiac arrests in the aftermath.

What struck me when I recently heard her story was her underlying attitude.  She made a conscious decision to bring positives out of 7/7 and set up a charity "MAD for Peace" with the aim of deterring anyone from a path of extreme violence.  Gill says she made sense of what happened to her by the dedication and unconditional love of those who saved her life – their never giving up:-

"I don't spend time thinking "what if" and "why"; 7/7 taught me how brilliant humanity is, which protects me from hatred or feeling I want revenge. It was touch and go for a week. As soon as I realised I was going to live, I felt euphoric…. I don't feel incomplete without my legs, I feel fortunate to have all I do"

As well as her charity work, Gill is now in demand as a motivational speaker.  In her promotional PDF, there are a couple of statements I really like:-

Making A Difference – Someone somewhere is feeling the effects of something you have said or done – what do we do each day to leave our mark, our footprint?  

Letting It Go – focussing on what matters! Remember to Live, to focus on what is really important to you and keep life’s problems in proportion.

David Pruszynski

When he was 17, David Pruszynski lost his eyesight through a degenerative disease.  Initially very depressed, he did go through rehabilitation programmes to learn Braille and walk independently with a cane.  But those skills didn't give him the self confidence to leave his home and face the world.

It was David's mother who literally  forced (and locked) him out of the house, giving him errands to do around town. The petrified blind man had no other option but to get on the bus and do as he was told.

Whilst on the face of it a very cruel thing to do, David's mother justified her action by telling him it would be her that would be worrying:-

"You were with you all day, I was the one who didn't know what was going on. If anyone had the right to be frightened, it was me."

David took her other piece of advice forward as a sort of mantra:-

"If you get lost and want to get home, you'll get found"

In a sentence he was able to challenge his main fear – becoming lost.  This gave him the self confidence to move forward and become independent, gaining further qualifications and skills.  With 65% of blind people unemployed, David has had a successful career in different fields. Now, 40 years after his initial blindness he has a business as a massage therapist in Florida.

"The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That's the day we truly grow up." 

John C. Maxwell

History is littered with men and women who have overcome adversity to achieve great things.  Most of us don't have to overcome major disability, like Gill and David.  What separates them is the attitude to life they have adopted.


photo by georgesipl on Flickr

Cheryl from ThatGirlisFunny December 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Wow! People are so brave. We never know what we're made of until life deals us a heavy blow. Thanks for putting things in perspective.

Judy Brown February 1, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Yes, I enjoyed reading that one too.   How very brave of him. 

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