Two major components predict a person's long-term success: ability and attitude. In a perfect world, we have both great ability and a positive attitude. If you don't find a task challenging, it's probably because you have a high ability for that task (or maybe you're just lazy and choose to avoid it). The drawback to having high ability is you don't get many opportunities to test your true attitude. Your personal truth only emerges when you are faced with something difficult.

But no one escapes challenges. I don't care who you are. None of us are that good at everything. We all eventually face change-related stress. Sometimes, change comes without invitation - a death or divorce or layoff. Sometimes we bring it upon ourselves - taking a new job or buying a new house or starting up a new lifestyle. A few of us even pay people to motivate us to change - like a coach or trainer.

Since we can't avoid change-related stress (no matter how talented you are), how we respond becomes very telling. It will almost always predict your long-term success. Negative responses like anger, frustration, negative self-talk, etc. usually signal trouble. Positive responses like humor, self-encouragement and determination are more beneficial. In the sports world, they call this having "heart." I promise you, if they had to choose, coaches and teachers will take heart over talent any day of the week.

Are you wondering if you have the right attitude? Well, does putting together a bicycle using poor instructions send you into a rage? Or do you start laughing, then call your auto-mechanic, best friend for some help? When you're stuck in a traffic jam full of road-ragers, do you lay on the horn and join in the lane weaving? Or do you turn up your favorite song and just start singing? If you overdo it at lunch and blow your calories, do you proceed to blow the rest of the day, too? Or do you reel it in and mitigate further damage? When an exercise is really hard and you can barely manage it, do you get mad and quit? Or do you chuckle and tell yourself "everyone starts somewhere?"

As many of us formulate our typical New Year's resolutions (another name for change), take a moment to assess how you typically handle challenges. The proper attitude will allow you to reach your highest ability. A poor attitude will hobble you.

NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals as well as groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit

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