When Victor Serebriakoff was fifteen, his teachers told him he would never finish school. They said that he should drop out and learn a trade. Victor took the advice and for the next 17 years he was an itinerant doing a variety of odd jobs. He had been told he was a ‘dunce’ and for 17 years he acted like one. He was far from having the attitude of a winner.
When he was 32 years old, an amazing transformation took place. An evaluation revealed that he was a genius with an I.Q. of 161. Guess what? That’s right; he started acting like a genius.
Since that time, Victor has written books, secured a number of patents and has become a successful businessman. Perhaps the most significant event for the former dropout was his election as chairman of the International Mensa Society. The Mensa Society has only one membership qualification: an I.Q. of at least 140.
What turned a dunce into a successful businessman, author and inventor? The difference for Victor was not in his abilities; it was in his attitude! He was no smarter than before, but his attitude changed, and when it did, his whole life changed.
Philippians 4:13 says “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (NLT)
From that verse, let’s consider 4 aspects of the attitude of a winner:
1. An “I Can Do” It Attitude
Philippians 4:13 begins “I can do.” God wants us to have an “I can do” attitude.
Do you have a “can do” attitude or a “can’t do” attitude?
I hope you don’t have an “elephant attitude.” Christian management consultant Bobb Biehl tells of being invited by a friend to go work in a circus for a day. He did what many dream of and “joined the circus” for that day.
They flew to Tucson, Arizona. For a day, they moved props from one of the three rings to the next, and helped in any other way they could.
During one of the breaks Bobb chatted with a man who trains animals for Hollywood movies. He asked him, “How is it that you can stake down a ten-ton elephant with the same size stake that you use for this little fellow?”
In fact, they could easily pull up those stakes. Grown elephants can easily lift a ton with their trunk. But they don’t pull up the stakes. Bobb asked why?
The animal trainer explained that the reason they don’t do so is because when they are small they are tied with a heavy iron chain to a stake that they can’t possibly move. The baby elephant pulls and tugs and heaves and struggles, but no matter how hard he tries, he can’t get loose. Finally, after reaching a point of physical and mental exhaustion, he stops trying. And he never tries again.
Thus, even when fully-grown and fully capable of getting away, an elephant will stay tied to a small stake, because having an elephant memory, he has stopped trying. His “I can do it” attitude has changed to an “I can’t do it” attitude. Because he believes he can’t do it, he doesn’t even try.
Too often we fill our minds with thoughts of our limitations and what we cannot do. We review our:
- hampered background
- poor grades
We feel that we can’t do what needs to be done to succeed. We allow our failings to drive a mental stake in our mind that keeps us from achieving all God meant for us to be.
While we might have an “elephant attitude,” God wants us to have an “I can do it” attitude, a victory attitude.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)
There is a Biblical word for the right attitude: FAITH.
“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen.” (Hebrews 11:1a TLB)
- Trusting that great things are possible through the power of God in you
- Believing in a dream even when it is hard to believe
- Tugging at the stake without ever giving up
Some might say, “But I’m just not a faith-filled person.” If so, you’d better adjust your attitude, because Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God…”
Without an attitude of faith—an “I can do it” attitude, we simply cannot please God. To please Him, you and I MUST cultivate a positive attitude.
The attitude of a winner is “I can do it.”
2. An “I Can Do Everything” Attitude
The Apostle Paul was led to write “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)
The word “everything” needs clarification. Does everything mean absolutely “anything?”
A. “Everything” means everything that is right.
Our efforts must be ethical and moral.
Scripture says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b NIV)
The question is not just “Who can be against us” but, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
If the Lord is for you, then you can do it! If He is not, because what you are trying to do is wrong, then you are in trouble. It must be right.
Make sure God is for you!
But how do you know if the Lord is for you? The way to know if the Lord is for you, is to do things that you know from the Word of God are the will of God. If you have a hard time knowing where to look in the Bible, ask Christian leaders and mentors. Or just do a Google search for Bible verses about _____________.
Here are some questionable or “wrong” goals and the verses I found via Google search:
- Earn a lot of money just to hoard it or spend it on myself. (See Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:6-10)
- Make a name to puff myself up. (See Philippians 2:3; Proverbs 11:2; 16:5)
- Get revenge. (See 1 Peter 3:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Leviticus 19:18)
B. “Everything” also means everything that is reasonable.
“Everything” doesn’t mean you can do the unreasonable. For example, I don’t believe “everything” means that:
- At over 60 years old I could become a professional NBA basketball player and win the MVP award next year. Although I do love to play basketball and I can almost touch the rim (within 6 inches or so, hah).
- I could be elected president of the US in the next election. (A nice thought, but I don’t quite have the finances and celebrity of Donald Trump!)
Scripture warns, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.” (Romans 12:3b NIV) This too is the attitude of a winner.
However, while the truth is that we can only do reasonable things, the problem usually is not that people think they can do too much. The problem is that they think they can’t do very much compared to what they really can accomplish.
Most people have their ankle tied to a little stake. They refuse to reach for the stars and try to accomplish great dreams.
Pastor and author Chuck Swindoll describes well the attitude of a winner:
This may shock you, but I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude is [what] keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.
In my next article, I’ll cover the other two characteristics in the attitude of a winner.
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Additional resources about related subjects on this site:
- Faith Means Acting When You Feel Inadequate
- You Can Do It!
- How to Tackle a Mountain-Sized Goal in Faith
- Are You Cocky or Confident?
- How to Find Confidence in a Critical World and Stay Humble
 Zig Ziglar, See You at the Top, p. 47.
Bobb Biehl, Masterplanning (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1997), p. 2. See also John Maxwell, Your Attitude, Key to Success (San Bernardino: Here’s Life Pub., 1984), p. 166.
 Charles Swindoll, Strengthening Your Grip, (Word Books: Waco, 1982), p. 207.