Have you ever heard a successful person described as an “overnight success?” While some may achieve their goals more quickly than others, I imagine that most successful people have spent thousands of hours behind the scenes working, learning, and practicing before they ever reached their target. But no matter how long it takes to reach a goal, there is one thing that every successful person has. This one thing is critical to success. This one thing is something that you can have too. It will help you reach your goals and be better at your job. What is it? It is the right attitude. With it there is no one in the world who can stop you. Without it there is no one in the world who can help you. I believe the right attitude is more important than talent, money, opportunity, and education.
Consider Daniel, the Old Testament Prophet.
The Bible tells us in Daniel 5:12 that Daniel had “an excellent spirit.” He had an excellent attitude in spite of bad circumstances. Think about the challenges he faced. He was a member of the Israelite royal family. He had a great future. He was afforded every opportunity a young man could wish for until it was all stripped away from him ruthlessly and suddenly when the Babylonians invaded Israel. He went from being a member of the royal family to being a slave in a matter of moments.
He was kidnapped and forced into serving the king who conquered his homeland. He was ripped away from his family and was forced to live in a place that was hostile to his religion, his beliefs, and his country. If he did his job well, then it helped strengthen the very regime that terrorized his country and others like it. If he did not do his job well, then he would be put to death. And to make matters worse, he was castrated* so that he could never have a family. If anyone ever had a reason to have a bad attitude it was Daniel.
Daniel served eight different kings in Babylon (only four are named in the Book of Daniel). He served the Babylonian Empire and then the Persian Empire for approximately 70 years. Yet in spite of all the oppression he endured he always came out on top. When kings and political leaders set up a new government they rarely kept the old guard. Yet Daniel rose to prominence and maintained his position under eight different kings and two completely different empires. That is completely unheard of, but it underscores the important of God’s sovereignty, our faith in him, and the power of a good attitude.
Your attitude is supremely important. It demonstrates your faith in God and impacts the people around us. Although it is a well-worn cliché, it bears a powerful truth: your attitude determines your altitude. You will only go as far as your attitude takes you. Negativity and bitterness weigh you down like a millstone around your neck. Your attitude is a choice. Like Daniel, you do not have to let your circumstances determine your attitude. You can choose to rise above your conditions and go places you never thought possible.
What was the key to Daniel’s excellent spirit? It wasn’t positive thinking or self-help motivational tools. Rather it was his faith in the Word of God. He had the wisdom of God in him. That only comes when we have a relationship with God and allow him to live through us. We learn these principles by reading and obeying the Bible.
The right attitude is the most critical tool you possess for accomplishment in life. It is the one thing that will take you further than you ever dreamed. It is the essential ingredient for success. Fortunately, it is the one thing that no person or circumstance can take from you. Just like Daniel, you can choose to have an excellent spirit. Just like Daniel, the sky is the limit when you choose the right attitude.
*Although it is not actually cited in the Bible that he was castrated, Daniel was placed under the authority of the prince of the eunuchs. All eunuchs were castrated. This was a practice that was widely used in the ancient world to keep conquered people from having offspring that would rise up in rebellion against the king. See the Works of Josephus for more on this subject.