Attitude Adjustment

9 positive principles to help you turn failure into success.
Magazine Contributor
7 min read

This story appears in the February 1997 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

Wayne Allyn Root started and failed at several businesses while still in his 20s. When he decided to become a national sports anchor, he was rejected by hundreds of TV networks. But Root persevered and today is a sports anchor for USA Networks and a successful motivational speaker. In this excerpt from his new book, The Joy of Failure (Summit Publishing Group), Root reveals the nine "Power Principles" that helped him develop a positive attitude and turn failure into success.

1. The Possibility Principle: One of my corporate motivation clients has a little girl in third grade. She loves to sit on her father's lap when he reads his motivational books aloud. The father never imagined that his little girl really understood what all those positive thinkers were saying.

Recently, he got the surprise of his life. His daughter returned from school with her latest exam. She had correctly answered nine out of 10 questions. Her error had been in defining the word "impossible." Her answer was "There is no such word. Nothing is impossible!"

If only all my adult students were so willing to grasp the idea of unlimited potential! You, too, must understand that nothing is impossible. So what are you waiting for? Start dreaming big, planning big, risking big, failing big--and achieving big!

2. The Positive Principle: Is the glass half full or half empty? Life is all about attitude--how you choose to see things. Let me give you a few examples.

Did you know that legal immigrants to the United States are four times more likely to become millionaires than those of us lucky enough to be born in America? What do you make of that statistic? The answer is actually quite simple: It's all about attitude!

Legal immigrants have overcome great hardship to get to America. They have often risked starvation, death and the loss of their families. America was their dream. They intently focused on that dream for decades. Once they've turned that dream into reality, they refuse to be stopped or denied.

Where others see problems, immigrants see only opportunity. They have been told over and over again that America's streets are paved with gold, and they believe it. They believe it so desperately, they create opportunity where there is none! This attitude empowers them to achieve.

3. The Lemonade Principle: This principle is all about turning lemons into lemonade. The word "no" is not an immovable obstacle to a thriver. It is simply an invitation to turn failure and rejection into extraordinary success. Everyone fails--it is the ability to overcome failure that separates thrivers (or successful failures) from the rest of us.

Let me give you an example. Experts predict America will lose more farm jobs in the next decade than any other occupation. There are abandoned grain silos all over the Farm Belt. But a company called Upper Limits in Bloomington, Illinois, found a way to turn a negative into a positive. They bought 14 abandoned silos and turned them into indoor climbing facilities. Now they get several hundred climbers a week paying $10 each. That's turning rotten grain into a cash crop!

Life comes down to failure and rejection. Those who wallow in their pain, who complain or who give up, are destined to live disappointing lives. Those who take action and find creative solutions to their disappointments and challenges are thrivers. Their reward is the life of their dreams.

4. The Self-Esteem Principle: The way you choose to see yourself, virtually without exception, is also the image you will project to others. If you don't believe in you, why would anyone else? If you don't love you, why should anyone else? If you don't think of yourself as a winner, who would pick you to join their team?

Let's be honest--extraordinary success just doesn't go hand in hand with depression, negativity, self-loathing and self-destructive behavior. If deep down inside you hate yourself, you'll find a way to ruin your success and happiness every time something good comes your way. If your goal is success, you must think of yourself as a success. You must expect success. You must feel deep down inside that you deserve success.

5. The Appreciation Principle: To be successful, you need to be positive and confident. To be confident, you must find reasons to be happy. You must go out of your way to appreciate the positive things in your life. You must always see the glass as half full--no matter how gloomy things seem, there's always something to be thankful for.

6. The Optimism Principle: While the Appreciation Principle is all about seeing the positives in your life, the Optimism Principle is all about seeing the positives in the world around you. We are bombarded daily by stories and images that depict the worst of society. Yes, there are gangbangers, rapists, murderers, carjackers and ruthless drug cartels. But good people still outnumber the dysfunctional by 1,000 to 1.

We are blessed--for the first time in the history of mankind--with the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. With personal computers, faxes, pagers, cellular phones, laptops, e-mail and the Internet, I can earn a living in my "virtual office" overlooking the beach in Malibu or on a mountaintop in Aspen! The opportunities that lie before you and me are limitless. Yet you're depressed and unhappy? Why?

Start thinking up reasons to be optimistic instead of pessimistic. Look for the good in others, in your life, in the world around you. Your new and improved attitude will attract opportunities you never thought possible. Stop looking for the worst--I guarantee that if you're looking for the worst, you'll find it. Start looking for the best, and pretty soon it will fill your life!

7. The Think Big Principle: There are dozens of examples of [famous] individuals who went on to great success after devastating failure. But what else besides failure did all these successful failures have in common? They all lived by the Think Big Principle.

When Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill failed again and again, they were still in a position to succeed big. Why? They were playing in the big leagues. At the highest levels of competition, losing still makes you a millionaire. But the key is to aim high.

When I look at many of my clients, I see a common mistake: They aim too low. If you're aiming for the curb and you miss, you'll be left in the gutter. Even if you succeed, what have you accomplished? Who wants to spend life at curb level?

But if you aim for the stars--if you strive to be the best at whatever you do--and you miss, you'll still land on the moon. And if you hit, you've got the life of your dreams!

8. The Pimple Principle: Many of us spend too much time and energy focusing on our limitations and weaknesses--our "pimples." We all have talents and, by the same token, we all have flaws. My advice is to find the things you're good at and the things you're not. Then immerse yourself in the ones that make you shine.

I doubt Whitney Houston has changed the oil in her limo lately. I don't think Bill Gates will ever win a Grammy Award for his singing. And I don't expect Donald Trump to make the U.S. Olympic team. But so what?

Don't get down on yourself for the things you can't do well. All you need is one talent. Build your life around that talent. Ignore the rest. You'll have higher self-esteem and a more positive attitude.

9. The Preparation Principle: Life often comes down to a few precious moments of opportunity. Are you ready? When that one moment presents itself, will you come up big?

It takes decades of practice and preparation to achieve overnight success. When you watch a concert pianist, is it God-given natural talent you are viewing or two decades of practice? The latter, of course.

Don't get depressed because you're not as good as that pianist. There's something in this world you were born to do. Find it--and then give it everything you've got. Be prepared, so that on the day opportunity presents itself, you'll be in a position to capitalize big time.

Copyright(c) 1996 by Wayne Allyn Root. From The Joy of Failure: How to Turn Failure, Pain, and Rejection Into Extraordinary Success (Summit Publishing Group).


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