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Summary of Attitude is Everything by Jeff Keller

What is the book about?

Attitude is Everything is a 1999 book broken down into 12 chapters, with each chapter relating to a specific lesson. This book summary will provide a concise outline of each lesson. The lessons relate to how you can harness the power of your attitude to reach your life goals. As humans, we have a tendency to focus on the negatives in life. Not only does this have a negative effect on those you are venting to, but it also impacts on your beliefs and your subsequent actions. Negative actions will prevent you from reaching your goals. This book will provide you with 12 lessons to help you teach yourself how to utilize your attitude to help you achieve your goals.

About the author

This book is written by Jeff Keller, a motivational speaker, leader, and writer within the field of human motivation. A 1980 Law School graduate who practiced law for a few years, Jeff felt unhappy with his life at that time and decided to pursue his true calling of helping others become the best versions of themselves. Having worked within multiple organizations to help develop high achievers, Jeff Keller wrote this book to provide a clear outline of how improving your attitude can advance your own and your organization’s potential.


The foundation of this book is that our thoughts dominate and drive our circumstances, while your attitude towards your life and the people around you is your window to the world. If you think you can, then you can. If you think you can’t, then you can’t. You’re right either way, as your attitude will impact on your outcomes. Therefore, try and change your attitude to be one that is more positive. 

PART 1 – Success begins in the mind

Lesson 1: Your attitude is your window to the world

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”

Keller defines your attitude as a mental filter through which you experience the world. Some people see the world through a filter of optimism, while others see the world through a filer of pessimism. It is the age-old question of whether someone sees the glass as half full or half empty. Keller believes that you can control your attitude and so you should keep your view of the world clean. We all start off with a clean window when we are young, but with age, our window becomes covered in dirt from what life throws at us: criticism, ridicule, rejections, and disappointments. This dirt on our originally clean window is what makes us doubt our capabilities and makes us start to have a negative attitude towards things. Our job, then, is to keep our view (window) of the world clean so we can keep our attitude clean and positive. Instead of saying “I can’t” we should be saying “I can”. We all have the ability to choose our reactions to different things. The example Keller gives during this chapter is the mindset of Victor Frankl, a survivor of a concentration camp. He believes that those who were naturally more pessimistic were those who often ended up dying in the concentration camps, while those who were optimistic were more likely to be a survivor. 

Lesson 2: You’re a human magnet

Keller summed up this chapter with one quote, just six words, which he provided from Earl Nightingale: “We become what we think about”. In this chapter, Jeff Keller introduces the idea of ‘dominant thought’. Our dominant thoughts rule the day; if we are constantly thinking about a goal, then we will take steps to move towards that goal. With a negative attitude, you are never going to take that first step. If we are constantly thinking in a negative way, then we will produce ‘negative’ actions. We must exercise our positive thoughts, thinking positively all the time until it becomes a habit. Ultimately, our beliefs brought us to where we are today, and the way we think about things from this point forward will take us to where we will be in the future.

We are, at a basic level, human magnets. If we think about positive things and outcomes then success will follow. Keller explains that one way to change your thinking is to become aware of what you say to yourself. However, you can also read positive literature every day and listen to motivational programs. 

Repetition is the key. Keller also warns readers, though, that expecting overnight success is a dangerous approach. We can be positive as often as possible but this does not mean we expect the success to be immediate.

Lesson 3: Picture your way to success

“If your thoughts don’t change, your results won’t change.”

Visualization is something that we use to understand the circumstances of our lives. We have done it from a young age and because of this, we use original images to guide our life situations. Keller encourages readers to create mental movies in their minds, picturing every milestone towards the ultimate goal they want to achieve. However, we must also rid our minds of old rubbish mental images that remind us of negative things, such as failure and disappointments. If you are still failing when seeking these goals, then Keller believes that you are still holding onto pictures of lower aspiration or failure. The example provided for this chapter is the story of singer Celine Dion. From the age of five, she has imagined singing in front of a huge audience, receiving multiple awards and becoming a superstar. She continued to hold these positive images throughout her life and she ultimately accomplished all of them.

Lesson 4: Make a commitment and you will move mountains

“There is nothing on earth you cannot have—once you have mentally accepted the fact that you can have it.”

The question Jeff Keller asks his readers is whether they are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish their objective. This is because, according to Jeff, the key to getting what you want is the willingness to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals. Therefore, make a commitment to yourself that regardless of the steps, you will do whatever is needed. Once you have provided this commitment to yourself you will then follow through with determination and action until you have reached your goal. Positive events will start happening once you have committed. People around you will start helping you to achieve your goal once you have committed. It won’t be easy, but if you don’t give up you can move mountains. In this chapter, Jeff provides the example of Benjamin Roll, who never gave up and finally cleared the bar council exam at his 14th attempt and at the age of 74.

Lesson 5 – Turn Your Problems Into Opportunities

“Life doesn’t reward those who refuse to expose themselves to difficulties and challenges.”

How we react when faced with problems and setbacks is vitally important. Generally, people start questioning themselves, their circumstances, and their own luck. After this initial disappointment, though, you have a choice to make. Do you either:

  1. Keep feeling miserable


  1. Learn a lesson from the setbacks and move on

Basically, you can either dwell on the negative or find the lesson in that problem. Often problems aren’t even problems, they are just opportunities to take positive action. They allow you to improve and do better next time. Adversity encourages us to make the necessary changes in our lives and to tap into our hidden potential. Additionally, failures give us perspective. Failures teach us to be grateful when small, positive things happen. In this chapter, Jeff Keller uses the example of Napoleon, who is quoted as saying, “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit”.

PART 2 – Watch your words: Speaking

Lesson 6: Your words blaze a trail

Words have immense power. Jeff Keller believes that words can build your future, destroy your opportunities, or help maintain the status quo. Your choice of words will define your personality. In this chapter, Jeff Keller builds on the book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind’s formula T–>F–>A=R. Or, in English, thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions and actions lead to results. Jeff develops this concept to be Words–>Beliefs–>Actions–>Results. Therefore, we must use our words carefully. If we use our words to jokingly put ourselves down in front of others, and they do not challenge you, then this strengthens your beliefs. Your beliefs will become more negative and this will subsequently stop you from taking positive action. Therefore, it is vital that you use positive self-talk as often as possible and only discuss your goals with supportive people.

Lesson 7 – How are you?

Jeff explains that this question is the most frequently asked question ever. It is a small question but we answer this question so often that our response has a big impact on us. There are three ways you can reply to this question. Your response can either be positive, mediocre or negative. We should always avoid negative answers as they drain the energy of us and those around us. Our words affect our physiology; for example, if our answer to the question is “Horrible”, then often our posture and our emotions will mirror this response. So, Jeff believes we should always reply to this question with either “Terrific” or “Great”. Just saying these words will help boost your confidence and create a positive outlook. How we feel is often a subjective matter. 

Lesson 8 – Stop complaining

“When you believe you can do something, you have the courage to move forward despite being afraid.”

It is okay to discuss your problems in an attempt to find solutions. Sharing your bad life experiences with friends and relatives can sometimes be a positive experience. However, complaining about your back pain, headache or flu won’t provide you with a positive outlook as there may be little in the way of solutions. Jeff Keller quotes William Penn, who is quoted as saying, “The secret of happiness is to count your blessing while others are adding up their troubles”. Ranting or complaining as a natural tendency doesn’t help the listener and won’t help you. Jeff suggests that next time you feel like complaining you should pick up a pen and piece of paper, and then start listing all the reasons you have to be grateful. 

Complaining merely distracts you from taking the action required to improve the situation. 

PART 3 – Heaven helps those who act: Action

Lesson 9 – Associate with Positive People.

“We become part of what we are around”

We are ultimately the average of all the people we spend our time with. The people we are spending most of our time with will be defining our outlook and future because they greatly influence our thoughts and, therefore, our actions. Keller invites us to think of the saying, “Tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are”.

There are two kinds of people: toxic people and nourishing people.

Toxic people dwell on the negative. They try to drag you down to their level, they tell you about all of the things that you can’t do, and they suck all the positive energy out of you. 

Nourishing people are positive and supportive. They are a joy to be around and make you feel better. You should stop spending time with toxic people, and start spending more time with nourishing people.

We become what we surround ourselves with. Therefore, we need to surround ourselves with positive people with definite goals for themselves. Spending time with people who have no ambition will leak into your own beliefs and thoughts. This will put you on the path to failure. 

Lesson 10: Confront your fears and grow

“Your self-esteem is lowered. You feel powerless and frustrated. You sabotage your success. You lead an uneventful, boring life.”

If you want to be successful, you must be willing to be uncomfortable. If you want to achieve your goals, you have to step out of your comfort zone. The people who succeed do so by overcoming obstacles along the way. You have to stretch yourself to improve.

This advice might sound simple, but most people still back away from fearful situations and avoid taking action. If a fearful action will help you move closer towards your goals, then you have to face your fears. Backing away from your fears also has negative consequences. Backing away will only lower your self-esteem, make you feel powerless and frustrated. You are sabotaging your success by avoiding difficult situations.

So, always adopt a can-do attitude. Doing this will help give you the courage to take on and overcome life’s obstacles. Repetition is key, so taking on one obstacle will make the next one easier.

Lesson 11: Get out there and fail

As well as taking on obstacles, we must be ready to fail. If you avoid failing you can’t learn new skills. Those who are successful are those who have learned to fail their way to success. In order to succeed one day, you must be willing to fail today. 

You have to persevere after failure, learning from your failures, and improving each time you fail. After one failure, work with double the enthusiasm for the next opportunity you have. In this chapter, Jeff Keller gives the example of a TV talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael. She was fired 18 times, couldn’t pay her credit card bills for 26 years, and lived on food stamps before she finally made it big in the industry. 

Remember, there is no such thing as a failure until you completely give up. Before you finally give up, ‘failures’ along the way are just results that differ in how successful they are.

Lesson 12: Networking that gets results

The last lesson of Jeff Keller’s book focuses on the importance of teamwork. If you are positive and ready to help people, then you will have people going out of their way to help you back. At a basic level, networking means you are leveraging your own efforts and accelerating the pace at which you get results. 

The more relationships you build, the greater the opportunities for the success you have. You can’t succeed on a grand scale all by yourself. However, others can help you: generate new clients and business leads; solve problems; and, provide valuable information and resources. 

Therefore, you should engage with the following key points from this lesson to ensure you are networking effectively:

  • Develop a win-win attitude
  • Actively participate in groups and organizations
  • Serve others within your network – when you give you will receive
  • Keep in touch with your peers
  • Become a good listener and treat every individual’s ideas as equally important
  • Meet different people and make new friends in your field
  • Remember to thank and congratulate people when they accomplish any of their goals

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