"Maturity in attitude is reached when you fully understand what you can change and what you can’t change, and you respond accordingly. De Vincenzo couldn’t change the figures on his score card or retrieve the money he had signed over to the lying woman. Fussing and fuming would not change the reality of either mistake. He chose to accept what had happened and move forward."
We send our kids to the best of schools, hoping that they will excel, go on to build a career and over time achieve success and happiness. A recent study has however confirmed what parents have long suspected – the chances of our children’s success in life lies more with how they cope with life’s ‘curve-balls’ than their education level. How our children react to life’s difficult situations is more a predictor of our children’s success.
It’s easy to have a chirpy, sunny disposition when things are going well. What happens however when life inevitably throws us a set of challenges and situations that call on our coping and rationalisation skills. Donald Trump has gone on record to suggest that education system in the US (and the world by large) needs to address the appalling lack of what he termed as ‘life skills’. While we are taught how to count, speak and conduct experiments, can you recall going through a class in college or even high-school teaching you the value and importance of having patience, perseverance or a positive mind-set?
In business, the lack of ‘life-skills’ is even more evident. It stifles efforts to resolve conflicts, foster co-operation and drive performance. It appears that the larger the organisation, the more cut-off its people feel. And this is impacting profits more than we care to admit. People are more disconnected than they ever have been. Remarkable when one considers the prevalence of the internet and technology which is supposed to make it easier to connect and communicate. Yet people feel left out, uncared for and even resentful.
The inspired story you are about to hear isn’t focused on the corporate world. Rather, it is a story that connects to us on a personal level. Read it, embrace it and share this with your people. It may just inspire them to change their ‘attitudes’ should they feel a need to.
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There are many different attitudes. Roberto de Vincenzo, a golfer from Argentina, beautifully displayed one of the best ones many years ago when he won the Masters golf tournament but was denied the coveted green jacket. I say he won it because he had the lowest score at the end of four days. But his playing partner who kept the score had inadvertently written that he had made a five on one of the holes when in reality he had made a four. de Vincenzo signed the card, and when an incorrect card is signed, the player is disqualified. He had not cheated, but the rules stood. What was his reaction when he learned he was disqualified? Did he blame his playing partner? No, he said he made a stupid mistake. He accepted full responsibility himself. Now what kind of man is he?
Some time later he won another tournament. After they gave him the cheque, he spent a great deal of time in the dressing room. He was in no particular hurry. When he got out to the parking lot, it was empty except for a young woman. She approached him saying she didn’t have a job, her sick baby was at the point of death, and she didn’t have the money to pay the hospital or the doctors. de Vincenzo signed his tournament winnings over to the young woman and went on his way.
The next week he was in a country club. One of the PGA officials told him he had been the victim of a fraud - that the young woman didn’t have a baby and was not even married. de Vincenzo said “You mean there is not a sick baby at all? The official said, “that‘s right.” de Vincenzo said “You have just given me the best news I’ve heard all year long.”
Where’s your heart? What’s your attitude? How would you have felt under those circumstances? Who had the greater problem - the golfer or the young woman? I think it is obvious isn’t it? How many of you think de Vincenzo really brooded the rest of his life over that woman who had beaten him out of that cheque? I don’t think he gave it another thought. He was truly glad that there had not been an ill child. Now that takes compassion, it takes heart, but it also takes wisdom.
When is maturity in attitude reached? Is attitude a head thing, a heart thing, or both? Maturity in attitude is reached when you fully understand what you can change and what you can’t change, and you respond accordingly. De Vincenzo couldn’t change the figures on his score card or retrieve the money he had signed over to the lying woman. Fussing and fuming would not change the reality of either mistake. He chose to accept what had happened and move forward. By doing so he saved his partner any further embarrassment and grief over the mistake. He showed everyone who witnessed the other incident his true character and was not made to look like a naïve fool by an official who was all too proud to have the scoop.
People with a good heart are exposed most readily in times of stress and ill fortune. De Vincenzo was more interested in the needs of his golfing partner and the welfare of a baby than he was in claiming to have been wronged. A heart like his, one that is honest, expects the best and holds no malice. It is developed over a lifetime. Roberto de Vincenzo at some point decided he was responsible for his circumstances in life, that he had control over how he responded to disappointment, and that a good attitude and a trusting heart offered many more rewards than their counterparts. Make the same decisions for yourself and relax into a more fulfilling life.
How You Can Benefit From This Story
1. It’s Not What Happens To You, But How You Deal With It When It Does Happen That Determined Your Happiness (or misery)
How many times have you (as a manager) come out of a meeting thinking, “that boss or colleague is such a jerk. I just can’t handle this working environment”. Then we slowly take this feeling of helplessness and project it in our work and more ominously, the people that report to us.
Remember, other people can try to say or do harmful things but it’s our attitude that determines its affect. If we had the courage to know what we can and cannot change, wouldn’t our lives be better!
So, you decide who you’d rather be – the disgruntled person who feels hard done by or the person that adopts the mindset that ‘I’m not gonna sweat what I can’t change and focus my efforts on what I can change”.
Points To Ponder
1. Think of a situation that happened to you where you felt hard-done by or mistreated. It could be being passed over for a promotion or being told off by a boss or even an unfair dismissal. How did you react? Did the feelings you felt at that time in any way change the reality of the situation? How long did you stew over it?
2. Now, ask yourself – was it worth it? The pain, suffering, anger or disgust. Did it get you anywhere or did it cost you more in the end!