Janelle's Blog

There’s a Winner in All of Us-Part 2 of 5

What Does it Take to be a Winner?

Winners do not accidently stumble into a successful life. When good things happen, winners are already there, waiting in anticipation for the prize of a well-thought out, well-planned, and well-lived life.

Attitude Sparks Imagination

Have you ever heard of a woman named Imaging Spence? She is an architectural designer who has an educated eye for creating a home out of nothing but imagination. She had no formal training as a designer, yet she has been featured in Architectural Digest.

Imaging grew up as the daughter of Mendel Peterson, head curator of history at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She spent her summers wide-eyed and full of wonder as she roamed through history-filled museums, dreaming of living on the velvet grassy hillsides of paintings she studied and rebuilding architectural ruins with columns and fountains. Pallets of colors, textures, and historic artifacts drew her into a life of imagination.

Attitude Persuades

Imaging’s husband says, “Without Imaging Spence, I’d be a homeless waif.” Oh, yes, her husband is Gerry Spence, world-renowned defense attorney. You may remember seeing him on television–distinguished by his silver hair and frequently worn black turtle neck sweater with a tan leather western jacket. Gerry is an undefeated trial lawyer who represented famous cases such as Karen Silkwood and Imelda Marcos. He has never lost a criminal case and has not lost a civil case since 1969.

Gerry Spence has mastered the art of persuasion so much that he founded the Trial Lawyers College, which has a revolutionary training method for lawyers so that they can bring justice for ordinary people. He says he takes pride in being a good “arguer,” yet Imaging silenced him with a simple comment.

When she announced one day that she had sold their house, Gerry rebutted her action with, “How could you sell the house I planned to die in?”

Imaging answered, “Don’t worry, I’ll build you a house to live in.”

Attitude Gives Perspective

Gerry Spence’s attitude toward life was changed by following after Imaging’s positive attitude. I watched a tour of their home on television last week. Lavish homes can easily be cold and uncomfortable, but not this one. Warmth filled every room, from the use of wood, rugs, colors, and the blending of antiques and their favorite collections. Among courtyards and fountains, she has nestled an extraordinary home with pockets of places to live within what Gerry calls “protective cocoons”. Imaging has swayed one of the most persuasive men on earth toward an appreciation of life and its beauty.

Check Your Attitude at the Door

How you approach life depends on your attitude. It really doesn’t matter if you have a perfect or imperfect life when you face breast cancer. It’s going to change either way.

As a young woman I had an idealistic view of life. I actually thought that I could go through life making all of the right decisions if I tried hard enough. The only problem with that kind of thinking is that there are too many unknown variables. And, there are too many people who don’t cooperate with your “perfect world” plan. Instead, life is a testing ground of your ideas and values and a place to learn to love people and life itself.

Breast cancer may have sneaked up on you, as it did me at the age of 34, and tried to mess up your world. My husband approached me one day during my early recovery of breast cancer when I was struggling with my attitude. I was angry at what had happened to me. He said, “If you don’t watch out, one day you’re going to be a bitter old woman with that attitude.” I stopped, had a broken-hearted cry over what I could become, and tossed my anger aside as I reached for the goodness of life.

Choose to be a Winner

Twenty eight years have passed since I had breast cancer, and life gets sweeter and more beautiful every year. I made a conscious decision to be “better,” not “bitter”. Take your first step toward becoming a winner. Visit last week’s blog to see where you are heading as a winner. See you next week when we talk about “Positioning Yourself to be a Winner.”

Thought for Today:

“Winning isn’t getting ahead of others. It’s getting ahead of yourself.” – Roger Staubach

Live Life,


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