Let’s discuss the one thing that will guarantee your success or failure. One word that makes the difference in being happy or miserable throughout your life. That word is Attitude. How’s yours today? If it’s not as chipper as you’d like, read on.

I revisited a concert I saw back in the ‘80’s on YouTube yesterday. “Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe,”  4/5 of the prog group Yes. This show from 1989 is excellent, with bassist Jeff Berlin taking place of the late Chris Squire on this show. Watching Jon Anderson is a fine example of a great attitude. He seems genuinely happy to be singing, even when the seats weren’t completely filled.  Jon learned long ago the phrase, “your attitude determines your altitude.” What many people don’t realize is that they can change their poor attitudes, within a day or less, if desired. The desire is the important thing.  It’s like one of my favorite jokes:

How many people does it take to change a light bulb?

One, but the light bulb really has to want to change.

I still laugh at this, but it’s because all of us have areas in our lives we’re weaker than others. Our attitudes are the only things we have complete and 100% control over. If you find yourself stewing over something or someone, you have complete power and ability right now to change how you feel.  Make an effort to hope for the best and expect the best of people and situations. Adopt the attitude that people are basically good and things will work out for the good. Encourage others and concentrate your thoughts and actions on positive energy. You’ll find this may take work in some situations.

I worked with a band years ago with a keyboard player who was, to put it simply, difficult. Some days he was happier than others and it became painful to work with this individual after a couple years. When confronted about his poor attitude, he admitted he did this deliberately to annoy me and other band members! This isn’t confined to mediocre regional or local bands. Several national or international acts have band members who are like battery acid- handle with gloves. One of the big advantages to working solo is you are free from typical band politics. This doesn’t completely remove you from difficult people and situations. Sometimes people like this hire us to perform solo gigs.

Regardless of this situation, try and keep a positive attitude. Those of you who played competitive sports know the importance of developing mental toughness. The great “Wrecking Crew” bassist Carol Kaye began working live gigs in the 70’s and found it was necessary to tell herself, “I will play great- I will play great” whenever she became nervous before an important show.  The NFL all time rushing leader, Emmitt Smith, once played a game after separating his shoulder on a vicious hit. Each subsequent tackle, he told himself, “No Pain- No Pain” even as tears rolled down his cheeks. While you may not need that level of physical toughness to do a solo gig, developing and keeping a positive attitude will help you achieve the kind of success that means something to you.

If things start unraveling, don’t allow your attitude to head down the drain also. Repeating aloud, several times daily, a simple phrase like “I like myself” will help you weather those temporary storms that don’t seem temporary at the time.  Brian Tracy points out that “positive people don’t have to remind themselves to be positive. They have thought positively for so long that it’s a habit.”

If this sounds completely foreign to you, consider writing down on paper some affirmations you can say aloud several times a day. They might include phrases like these:

I like myself

I am a great player

I am a complete professional and I keep my word

I will play great tonight

I am a great fit for this gig

These affirmations, along with many others you can create for yourself, will allow you to begin programming your mind to accept yourself and others for what they are and can be. You might look into motivational speakers and writers like Brian Tracy, Wayne Dyer, Zig Ziglar, Anthony Robbins as well as subliminal recordings by Barry Konikov for more information on this topic. Begin programming your mind to become a more positive person. If possible, avoid negative media influences, people and situations to help you redirect your attitude and focus. Do this daily for the foreseeable future and watch the magic happen in your life!

Riley Wilson is a guitar and bass teacher, voice talent and entertainer based in North Texas. His websites www.guitarmadesimpler.com and www.wrileywilson.com