Wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson: Our Attitude Might Predict Our Success

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American poet that lived and worked in the 19th century.  Though Emerson had many struggles in his life, those challenges led to a number of important quotes attributed to him.  Many of these can apply to us.  Everything we attempt is not successful.  Often, our very best plans need to be modified because something has changed.  Our attitude might be our most important predictor of success in work and in life.  We can see these themes coming from Emerson’s work.  Let’s take a look at a few of his quotes today to see how they might help drive us to a successful new FY’16:

  1. What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” – Emerson is clearly saying here that our attitude, motivation, drive, desire, and persistence are more important in our success than the circumstances that occur to us.  Notice also that Emerson minimizes those things in the past (we can no longer influence those things, so why dwell on them) and the future (no one can predict or control the future).  He is simply saying that our internal make-up is far more important that the events of our lives.  Our ability to persevere and strive to the end makes all the difference.
  2. Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. – Who has never failed at anything?  No one, that’s who.  If we never fail, we are not taking enough risks or we are not aggressive enough.  Emerson is saying that an important character attribute is in how we react when something negative does occur.  Are we the kind that lets something negative drive us down and keep us there or do we look at failures as a chance to learn.  Getting up quickly demonstrates our drive and ability to learn.
  3. You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” – There you have it… another quote on kindness.  Here, though is a new slant.  Emerson is assuming that we will desire and behave kindly to others.  He is simply emphasizing that we mustn’t delay doing what we know we should.  I saw a photo recently of a little boy looking at things in his late grandfather’s garage.  You could see him remembering the things they had done together and the good memories they had made.  The photo reminded me again that a day will come when my own grandchildren will only have memories of me.  Will those memories be happy ones of us playing and working together?  Or, will they be negative memories?  Will my grandchildren tell stories to their own kids some day of the escapades they had with their grandfather and the things we did together?  Will any of those stories survive even to their children?  Am I doing what I can now to make those happy memories because you never know when it will be too late.  Please don’t assume that your friends, your coworkers, or your family members will always be there tomorrow.  Perhaps you need to express a word of thanks or an act of kindness today because “soon it will be too late.”
  4.  “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – I guess I don’t have a patent on “this could be our best day yet.”  I never realized Emerson said this until just recently.  Emerson, though, is emphasizing our attitude again.  We need to simply assume that today is special and that it could be the best day of the year.  Make this a habit and your life will change!

So, how does your attitude stack up to these quotes from Emerson?  Do you have that drive and persistence within that makes a champion?  Are you cherishing today as though it will never come again?  Are you valuing those you love as you should?  Are you looking ahead to 2016 with optimism and enthusiasm?  Has Emerson said anything to you today?

Have a terrific day!  And, remember, this could be “the best day in the year.”

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