by Craig Lock

"You are today what you thought about yesterday You will be tomorrow what you think about today, Every attitude is positive or negative, It doesn't matter what happens to you, It is how you take it that matters."

"In the game of life you can be up one moment and down the next. The reason is not luck as in snakes and ladders, but the attitudes you choose consciously or unconsciously."

Your attitude will determine your entire outlook on life and how you see the world- happy or sad, positive or negative. You can choose to see it through rose-coloured spectacles (the eternal optimist who is out of touch with reality). You can also see everything as dark clouds (the absolute pessimist), or choose to see that every dark cloud has a silver lining, which is a good attitude to have. Well it’s true anyway!

I am the eternal optimist, out of touch, some say. Some people pick up the doom and gloom portrayed by newspapers and the media and transfer it to their own daily living. Attitude clouds everything that happens to you and how you react to situations, crises, etc.

Your attitude is your perception of an event- it is your reality. You may perceive a certain situation to be a disaster, while another person may see it differently, as a positive opportunity for trying something new: e.g.. on redundancy or job loss or loss of a relationship.

As we have seen, one's attitude is closely related to your self-image and it is probably the most critical factor in determining how successful or how happy you will be in life. The inner attitude you have about yourself will determine your level of success far more than the skills and training you have ever received.


Personally, due to a traumatic event some years ago, my self-image was severely knocked, which impacted on my attitude for quite a length of time. This was passed onto my wife, who suffered a severe emotional crisis. Our negative attitudes, together with extraneous circumstances, made life very difficult and stressful, leading to misjudgements, personal trauma and an inability to make decisions.

However, entirely on our own, we have lifted ourselves and bit by bit, regained our normal positive attitudes, which has enabled us to achieve wonders and a happy lifestyle.


Your thoughts become your beliefs, and your thoughts determine whether "good" (positive), or "bad" (negative) messages are sent from the brain to the rest of your body. There is a complex relationship between the mind and the body. Physical disorders are caused by your state of mind. What you think can literally make you sick or healthy. The attitude you hold about yourself can give rise to feelings of joy, despair, anger, rage, etc. and can even cause heart disease, asthma, and ulcers (known as psychosomatic illnesses).

The attitude you hold about yourself also affects your relationships with other people. After a divorce, when a person's confidence is at a low level and they may feel a failure, they are more likely to die of certain medical disorders (because their mental powers of resistance and self-esteem are low).

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." American psychologist, William James

Positive thoughts produce positive results, and negative thoughts produce negative results. We should try to understand how our thoughts arise and are influenced; they come into the brain from what we hear, what we see, what we read and what we say to ourselves.

We get our thoughts/attitudes from the media, those with whom we mix and through self-talk. Negative people are the product of a negative environment. Self-talk is what we say to ourselves all day long. A number of sportsmen use this technique to stay positive. Sports psychologists also use it. (See my book on sports psychology called ‘The Winning Mind’). Plug ! Some people, on learning that they have cancer, have been known to go into shock and die. There have also been cases of people whom, expected to die far sooner by their doctors, have willed themselves to stay alive for an event like the birth of a grandchild. Australian aborigines can subconsciously will themselves to die when the bones point to them (known as voodoo). Or is it a hoodoo perhaps!

Optimism and pessimism are learned attitudinal behaviours and they can be relearned. We need to constantly monitor our inner navigational system, our attitudes to make our own course corrections. Negative thinking cripples the mind, like polio cripples the body. The cure is positive thinking- a positive outlook for opportunities does wonders for one's attitude. Many discoveries or luck come by chance. SERENDIPITY is the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. Do try anything! WHAT IS your outlook on life - happy or sad? Remember what you believe in normally happens. In other words, "YOU GET WHAT YOU EXPECT". This is known as self-fulfilling prophecies, so top golfers expect to hole their putts and are surprised when they don't.

Be ENTHUSIASTIC - walk, talk and act enthusiastically and you will find that it is contagious and that people will be attracted to you.


1. Attitudes are more important than facts.

2. How you take it is more important than what happens.

3. Attitude acts as a selective filter affecting perception : we choose to see the best or worst in any situation.


We are not as we think we are, but as we think- the quality of our thinking is more important than what we think about. How we think is our strangest secret.

If your goal is wealth, but your thinking is poverty-stricken, your attitude will cancel out the achievement of your goal. If your goal is health and you choose healthy thoughts, you will realise your goal.

NB: Attitudes beat facts every time.

"We need to be beneficiaries of our attitudes, not victims." "Our attitude determines our altitude". Authors Note:

Craig Lock has written extensively on the subject of personal success, as well as doing much studying in the field of self help. This extract is from his first published book HANDBOOK FOR SURVIVAL IN THE NINETIES (which has been updated and renamed HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM) . These books are available at :





I believe that heredity (the genes that you inherit) have some part in forming attitudes. However, most important in shaping them, is the family environment, especially in your early childhood: the impressionable years up to the age of seven. Also critical are your lifetime experiences and events (whether happy or traumatic) in later years. What is happening in your life today, yesterday and all those past years. There are three areas of life in which your attitudes are formed.

1. A sense of BELONGING which is picked up before birth. The "vibes" in the womb of the mother (hard to be a father in this process) will determine whether we are really wanted by the mother, and this can determine our degree of security (or insecurity) in later life.

2. Your sense of WORTH will be determined by your immediate family in your early childhood. They instil in you an inner sense of well-being and of being loved. The role of mothers and fathers is critical in the socialization process for the development of your attitudes. Their expectations of you play a big part in your life script.

3. Your sense of COMPETENCE will also originate in the family environment. That is why it is very important to praise and encourage children. If they are continually reprimanded, children will feel that they can't ever do things right. This then develops into the child thinking, "I am a person of no worth who is no good at anything." This attitude grows over time and can be re-inforced in the working environment. Even extremely competent business executives can feel insecure on a personal level and have difficulty in personal relationships.


Golda Meier, an earlier Prime Minister of Israel, was once asked what made Israel such a success against the might of the united Arab armies. Israel, as you most probably know, is a small country set in the middle of a desert, with virtually no natural resources and no wealth. Meier replied, "All that my country has is the spirit of it's people. If the people lost their spirit, not even the might of the United States of America could save us." A right attitude throughout the country overcame all the odds and insurmountable difficulties throughout it's turbulent history.

The top salesman for Bell telephones in America is a quadriplegic. Although he can only blink his eyes and open his mouth, his attitude and perseverance have made him number one. (Stanford University after doing extensive research, said that all success is 87.5% as a result of your attitudes. Your skills, abilities and knowledge make up the other 12.5%).


1. Enlist the co-operation of a positive close friend that you can confide in. Share your personal goals and dreams. Ignore the "knockers" who will try to put you down out of jealousy (the "tall poppy syndrome" so prevalent here in New Zealand, but especially Australia).

2. Seek out the right people (successful and enthusiastic ones who have the right attitude). DON'T NEGLECT YOUR OLD FRIENDS TO GET IDEAS , but remember, your potential has nothing to do with your ultimate performance.

3. Select a model to emulate or follow...who you would like to be like? (Only if you are not happy with the way you are.)

4. Learn from your mistakes. Daley Thompson, the former great British athlete in the decathlon said..."I will learn more than any other experience from my failures than my successes." In his goal setting, Thompson was content to grow slowly, because slow growth is more solid, and he did it in small steps.

Look beyond your mistakes and savour successful experiences. Don't feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about your achievements. Make daily affirmations to yourself that you are doing well and are on the right track. Reward yourself for minor achievements, or steps on the road to your bigger goals. Give yourself credit, no matter how small your achievements, because mental rewards will boost your motivation. All rewards must come from within. This conditioning will cultivate a positive attitude in you. (Just like Pavlov's dogs were conditioned to salivate through association of ideas.) I remember that from my studies in psychology many many moons ago.

Look forward to positive outcomes and rehearse them in your mind, rather than anticipating failure. Don't repeat bad experiences-our attitude ties us down and limits us, so that mediocrity becomes our destiny.

5. Make the most of any situation you find yourself in. Try not to be anxious. Things will work out in the end.

6. Avoid self-pity. Resilient people don't feel sorry for themselves too long. The person who wallows in self-pity or bitterness spends too much time on introspection and not enough time plotting a comeback.

7. Be persistent. Winning often means getting up one more time than you have been knocked down. Persevere and never give up.

8. Adapt to change and see it as a challenge rather than as uncertain and frightening.

9. Always keep things in perspective. Because our job is such a big part of our self image, a career set-back can make us lose perspective. If you become unemployed, don't see yourself as a failure, but rather as having options and an opportunity to pursue a new direction.

and finally,

10. Believe in yourself, but trust in God .


Realistically analyse your strengths and weaknesses. As a matter of interest, people generally list more weaknesses than strengths, especially women (nice things those!). Too often people discount their accomplishments and focus on what they haven't been able to do.

Making money in itself is not success, but rather a by-product of success. Most successful people use the technique of visualisation to foresee ideal outcomes.

If you can foresee getting your desires in the mind, then you can get there in the least I think so!

"As a man thinketh so is he." Haven’t I got that one in already?

Success or failure is not a matter of luck. The key ingredient is a winning attitude, together with PERSEVERANCE and common sense.

Your attitude determines your destiny:

Remember to stick at a task when things don't go right. "When the going gets tough, the tough get going", as my dear father used to tell me often. Did it work though with me? All successful people have true grit and stickability, as well as natural ability. The winner is often the person who gets up one more time than they are knocked down. You will hit attitudes in others who say 'you can't do it'. You have a choice then:

a) To remain convinced that you can do it.

b) Stay with their attitude and quit yours.

All the world's greats would never have been great if they had listened to the opinion of even their closest friends. Caruso, the world's greatest tenor, was told his voice sounded like a tin can. Thomas Edison, the inventor of motion pictures, was advised that no-one would pay to listen to sound coming from a screen. Edison told Henry Ford to give up making cars and work for him instead and make millions. Marie Curie was told to forget about radium. Laurence Olivier was told by friends to give up acting. Benjamin Franklin was told to stop fiddling with lightning. People told Johnny Weismuller (Tarzan) that no-one would ever beat his fifty swimming records. His 1936 world record was the qualifying time for the 1972 Olympics! Attitudes of the time said his records could never be beaten. Now 12 year old girls regularly beat his times.

Christopher Columbus took 14 years to raise funding for his ships and crew before setting out on his explorations. The science and culture of the day had said that the world was flat. However, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain had faith in Columbus. With that faith and money behind him, Columbus took just six months to discover the New World.

In the same way, a “flat-world mind-set” can limit our thinking and lead to mediocrity. In the same way that you can train fleas to jump a certain height in a bowl, when you take away the bowl, they still do not jump higher than the learned height.

Our mind can tie us down and limit us, so that mediocrity becomes our destiny. Negative attitudes get cemented in concrete.




Authors Note:

Craig Lock has written extensively on the subject of personal success, as well as doing much studying in the field of self help. This extract is from his first published book HANDBOOK FOR SURVIVAL IN THE NINETIES (which has been updated and renamed HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM) . These books are available at :



A short exercise:

Talk to your best friend or partner *(I hate that common New Zealand expression- cheapens the institution of marriage and denotes immoral living - Yes, sir "Mr goody goody two shoes") about:

* I far prefer the term 'spouse', which could be an abbreviation for "spastic mouse". Enough about my personal opinions...

1. The picture you hold of yourself (i.e.. how you see yourself): Is it positive or negative, are you an introvert, extrovert, popular?

2. How you see other people seeing you - their perception of you, or looking glass).

Which brings to mind the following wise words (not mine)...

"I am not what I think I am."

"I am not what you think I am."

"I am what I think you think I am."

Abraham Lincoln grew up in a very difficult environment. He had less than one year of formal schooling. He experienced defeat and failure year after year, but is one of the greatest success stories of all time. In spite of everything, he had the right attitude to achieve success.


When faced with a mountain,

I will not quit!

I will keep on striving until I climb over, find a pass through, tunnel underneath -or simply stay and turn the mountain into a gold mine, with God's help!

Authors Note:

Craig Lock has written extensively on the subject of personal success, as well as doing much studying in the field of self help. This extract is from his first published book HANDBOOK FOR SURVIVAL IN THE NINETIES (which has been updated and renamed HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM) . These books are available at :


A collection of writings on various subjects to help every man or woman survive in a rapidly changing, uncertain world. HANDBOOK is written in a simple style to help the ‘everyperson’ make the most of themselves and their lives easier. It takes an introductory look at what motivates us and how to set goals... to find our true purpose for being on this planet. Also how to handle the stresses life throws at us. I found it very helpful for my own life.” - Birgitta, Minerva Press (UK)

Craig's Personal Site 
Creative Writing Course:  
Money management course : 

PPS: Dear Americans, please excuse my British English spelling. Very Colonial! I am quite happy for these articles to be used and distributed by other electronic and other magazines (as long as credit is given). If they help others out there in any way, then I’m happy.

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