Luck, Attitude, And The Feast

I’ve been pretty damn lucky in life.

Not lucky as in “wins all the time, against the odds.” Rather, lucky in that my attitude fostered a lifestyle that opened up a lot of opportunities for good stuff to happen. Once I started taking advantage of these opportunities, I took on the persona of a “lucky guy”.

What was my attitude?

Actually, it was more a lack of attitude. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but a huge percentage of the population walks around with a chip on their shoulder. People make up all kinds of silly rules that dictate who they can hang out with, what they can laugh at, where they can go. And they can get fairly riled up when other people violate these restrictions.

Standing next to your average pissed off, resentful, paranoid and judgemental person… and any lack of attitude becomes an attitude. Being tolerant and open to new or strange ideas definitely puts you in the minority in most crowds.

I get reminded of this whenever I refuse to let someone get away with insisting that life is hard here in the States… or that the “little guy” just doesn’t stand a chance against The Man.

Oh, please.

Fear change and opportunity if you must — and most people will — but don’t even try to make the case that’s just the way things are. Because it ain’t so.

If the wonders of this exciting new world of entrepreneurism and Web-based economies scares or depresses you… you can fix that. By adjusting your attitude, so you allow new information to enter your little world, and you stop nixing every possibility just because you’re not yet sure how to pull it off yet.

The key word is “yet” — there is NOTHING happening in today’s markets and economies that you can’t get hip to in a long weekend. Getting a site operating online is now simpler than driving a car. Understanding how to tap into even weird, off-beat niche markets is just a short mini-education away.

And the resources for figuring it all out are at your fingertips.

Sure, it’s a daunting task when you’re alone, and you’re not sure of what first step to take, and no one around you is supporting your quest for a better life.

So what?

All the really good adventures involve a little discomfort, and even pain, at first. Success does require effort.

But it’s not rocket science.

My Insider’s Club is crammed with some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Many are still skittish about this scary entrepreneur stuff… but they don’t need to be convinced it’s worth a shot.

I don’t deal well with people who can’t even admit that much — that the possibility they could make it, and even thrive, working at their own business, is just too much for their heads to bear.

That, of course, is the first big hurdle to be jumped — the raw fear of the unknown. It’s totally understandable — and totally okay — that most folks will just never get past that fear. The freedoms and joys of working for yourself is NOT for everyone.

However… if you believe it might be something you’d enjoy… but you’re having trouble getting over that first hurdle… let me suggest you start with your attitude.

Again, I was lucky. People have called me a rebel all my life, because my lack of attitude (at least their definition of attitude) set me apart.

It just never occured to me to care about another person’s politics, sex, age, race… or anything else that seemed to ignite such hostility in other people. All I cared about… was the “quality” of the other person. Their ability to laugh and make me laugh, and to add to whatever we were doing.

Most people, I’ve discovered, feel an inner duty to keep events under control. They don’t like it when conversations, or play, or ideas get beyond easy comprehension… and they will use all the negative tools at their disposal to continually bring things back to “normal”.

Which to me, meant “boring”.

My two best friends in high school were a Japanese American and a Chicano — a pair of the funniest and smartest free thinkers I’ve ever met. My two closest colleagues today consist of a man 15 years older than I am, and another guy 15 years younger. I count ordained clergy, penniless hippies, right wing and left wing office holders, anarchist artists, dopes, nerds, kids and sociopathic musicians among my friends.

I can’t necessarily get them all into one room at the same time — they might fight.

But individually, we’re all fine.

I pity people who restrict their friends to only those folks who agree with them on every subject. What a cramped, claustrophobic world they must live in.

They’re the ones with the real attitide. An attitude of intolerance, anti-intellectualism and a refusal to explore any idea outside of their comfort zone. To a guy like me, it’s a huge “screw you” attitude.


I’ve made a fairly substantial living being the guy who operates “outside the box”. Business owners pay me outrageous sums to come in and shake up their thinking… look at their marketing model with the eyes of someone far outside their cramped corporate culture… and, most of all, create new marketing that makes them quiver with anxiety.

If a client isn’t nervous about posting or mailing a piece I’ve written for him, then I know I haven’t done my job. World-class advertising isn’t soft and squishy, folks.

It’s dangerous.

Attitude. I think about it a lot. I didn’t set out to be a rebel… it just so happened that by not caring much for the predudices and rules (especially the rules) of whoever was claiming to be “the authority figure” at the moment, I appeared to have a “bad” attitude.

Naw. I’m just thinking my own thoughts. Trying hard to see things as they are, and not as they “should be” according to some lame ideology. Or, worse, as other people wished things were, so they could stop being nervous about the uncertainty of it all.

Life is uncertain. Good stuff happens, bad stuff happens, and in the grand scheme we really only get to exercise a tiny little bit of control. You’re never gonna change anyone’s mind about anything. Idiots will never recognize the folly of their ways, and assholes will forever plague our plans and dreams.

Again, so what? The best entrepreneurs — the guys I know who are raking it in and living the good life — are mostly flexible and open-minded. Maybe not in all categories… but when it comes to opportunity and the possibilities of any given situation… they’re ready to entertain any thought or idea that has a chance to work.

If you’re feeling a little hamstrung in your life right now… check to see that it isn’t your attitude. Your prospects are very likely not like you at all… and if you can’t get into their heads and understand their perspectives, you’re not gonna do very well.

On the other hand, if you can get your mind around the Zen concept of having an attitude that’s really an “anti-attitude”… you’re going to finally experience some vicious-good juice coursing through your system. All those little dams in your body that are necessary to maintain your uptightness will burst… and what happens when you break free will, frankly, blow your mind.

It’s not something you can imagine before you do it.

You just gotta trust me on this one.

The feast of life isn’t open to anyone with their nose stuck up in the air.

And you know what? They wouldn’t understand what was so much fun at the feast, anyway.

Something to consider, as you toy with the next step you take, no matter where you think you’re headed.

Stay frosty.

John Carlton

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  • Ryan Healy says:

    I’m re-listening to Earl Nightingales’ Lead the Field program right now. On the very first disc, he’s hammering on attitude. So I’ve been thinking a lot about attitude lately.

    Here’s what I love about you, John: how you’re willing to think… and not accept what “authority” says.

    I radically changed my beliefs a few years back. It really messed me up (intellectually) for over a year. But it was awesome.

    I’ve got friends (like what you describe) that just drive me crazy with their inability to even conceive of something different than what they already believe.

    And speaking of having friends with different perspectives… they’re the best kind, in my opinion. ‘Cuz if you can tolerate each other’s different values and beliefs… even appreciate them… then those are tight friendships indeed.

  • Moreeta says:

    Hi there,
    just a quick comment on how some find change hard… I have a client who is an accountant who loves the ideas and marketing But. Everytime I write a letter its a battle to get past the “professional image”.

    Its come down to a me or them situation. Take it as I write it and have the results or do it like everyone else.

    (As a side note this accountant is a good friend so my sticking ability is far greater.)

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