Attitude, Not Aptitude, Leads to Altitude

By George Foster, CBC
Chief Executive Officer at Foster Marketing

For those who know me, that’s one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite Zig Ziglar audio tapes, Winner’s Attitude (that shows how long I’ve had it). You can’t get it in CD and a cassette on Amazon can go for anywhere from $20 to $90. Yikes!

Ziglar, one of the best motivational speakers (and thinkers) of all time, passed away in 2012, but his legacy lives on in his courses and digital contributions.

There are many great stories on the cassette which, to their dismay, I made my kids listen to in the car, or what Zig calls Automobile University. One of my favorite anecdotes is Zig’s “Railroad Story” which has been repeated many times and you can find on the Internet.

The Railroad Story

In the 1950s, a crew of railroad workers were repairing track on a sweltering summer afternoon. A train came chugging down the track and pulled off on a side rail. From one of the cars – a special car for the president of the railroad – a window flew open and a voice shouted out, “Dave! Dave Anderson, is that you?”

It was; and, in fact, Dave Anderson was in charge of the work crew. “Yeah, Jim, it’s me,” he shouted back. The man on the train, Jim Murphy, yelled out, “Well, come on over here and let’s chat a while.”

So, Dave Anderson stopped what he’d been doing and joined Jim Murphy in his private air-conditioned railroad car for almost an hour, no doubt happy to get out of the broiling sun. When the conversation ended, he made his way back to his crew working on the track. The flabbergasted crew stared at him in utter shock and said something to the effect of, “That was Jim Murphy, the president of the railroad.”

“Yup, it sure was,” Anderson said.

They all gathered around and excitedly wanted to know how Dave knew Jim Murphy, the president of the railroad, to say nothing about how he got to be such good buddies with the man and on a first-name basis to boot!

Dave explained: “Well, it’s quite simple — when I started with the railroad over 20 years ago, Jim Murphy started at the same time; we’ve been pals ever since.”

Now the crew was even more astonished as much as they were confused. They wanted to know how it is that Dave and Jim Murphy started working for the railroad at the same time and Murphy rose to such dizzying heights while old Dave is still working on the track in the hot sun. How in God’s name did that happen?

Dave looked wistfully up into the sky and said, “A little over 20 years ago Jim Murphy went to work for the railroad; I went to work for a $1.75 an hour.”

What about you? What are you working for? Are you working for a pay check or a career? What are your goals? Are they ordinary or are they extraordinary? Better yet, are they outrageously extraordinary? I like this quote from an unknown source: “If you don’t have a dream that is so outrageous that you couldn’t possibly succeed unless God Himself puts in a personal appearance, you’re not alive.”

Everyone Needs a Jollytologist

My favorite answer when people ask how I’m doing is that, “if I were any better I’d be in Heaven.” You’d be amazed at the reaction that gets. That’s taking a good attitude to a new level.

Allen Klein, a self-proclaimed “Jollytologist,” has made his life’s work a mission to help people lighten up and get more happiness and joy in their life. Klein is a firm believer in the power of words – that positive words can lift our spirits while negative words can bring us down.

He says if you don’t believe that, just say the following words out loud and see how you feel after you’ve recited them: angry, upset, miserable, sad, tearful, despondent, discouraged, depressed.

Then say these words, either to yourself or out loud: cheerful, happy, joyous, jolly, exuberant, elated, overjoyed, euphoric.

Any difference? Perhaps it was a subtle one, and maybe for only a moment, but there probably was a change in your tone of voice, your mood, or the expression on your face.

If the words we speak or the thoughts we think can alter the way we react to the world, then it is important to keep them positive if we are seeking to be happier, he says.

Are You Kicking the Cat?

Nothing represents that more than another favorite story from Zig’s Winning Attitude, in fact the first one on the tape. Here is a paraphrased version of the story.

Mr. B was the top dog at a very large company. He’d just had a meeting with his staff about being on time, but sure enough one morning soon after he looked at his watch and realized he was going to be late for work.

He jumped in his car, threw it in reverse and burned rubber leaving the driveway. As he sped down the highway, he looked in his rear-view mirror. His heart skipped a beat when he saw the flashing lights. He pulled over and rolled down his window.

“Where are you going in such a hurry,” the officer asked. “I’m late for work,” he replied abruptly as the officer handed him a ticket.

That made Mr. B even hotter. “Shouldn’t you be chasing real criminals and leave me alone?” he asked the officer.

He was really late now. When he got to work, the first person he saw was his sales manager.

“Good morning, Mr. B,” said the sales manager with a smile.

“There’s nothing good about it,” barked Mr. B, “I want to see you in my office NOW!”

As Mr. B threw his coat down on the couch, he yelled at the sales manager, “You fell short of your goal last week for the second week in a row. I want to know what you’re going to do to get back on track and I want to know now.”

“Mr. B,” the sales manager objected, “We just talked about this yesterday. We have four big deals. Any one of them will put us over the top and I’m sure we’ll get at least one of them.”

“I’ll believe it when I see the reports. Get ‘em now,” Mr. B blurted out.

The bewildered sales manager walked back to his office. When he got there, the first person he saw was his assistant. He screamed at her to get the reports. She was busy so she yelled at the receptionist to get them done. And, she did.

When the receptionist got home, the first person she saw was her 12-year-old son and noticed he had a tear in his brand-new jeans. She yelled at him and sent him to his room. “I was just out mowing the yard,” he said.

On the way to his room, he saw the family cat laying on the floor. He kicked that cat out of the way!

So, here’s the question: Wouldn’t it have been much better, for everyone involved, if Mr. B had just gone directly to the receptionist’s house and kicked the cat himself?

And here’s an even more important question: Whose cat are you kicking?

This story, maybe more than any other Ziglar story, hit home with my kids from Automobile University. Any time I’d fuss at them, they’d ask: “Dad, who’s kicking your cat?”

That thought-provoking question slowed down a lot of anger.

As we start the New Year, hopefully everybody will have a positive attitude adjustment at work and a cat-kicking free environment at home. At Foster Marketing, I think you’ll find a bunch of high altitude, great attitude employees. Call us.

For more from Zig Ziglar, click on the following link for one of his attitude presentations. It’s an hour but well worth a listen: Developing and Maintaining the Right Attitude.

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