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Watch your attitude.

Robert Half, CPA, founder of Robert Half International, Inc., and author of six books, discusses the benefits of thinking positively.

The Journal welcomes readers' questions on employment concerns, which should be sent to Career Clinic, Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza III, Jersey City, New Jersey 07311-3881.

I once asked legendary businessman Malcolm Forbes which quality was most lacking in accountants who never achieved success. He quickly replied, "Imagination. Accountants are too cost-conscious to let their imaginations go. Too often, they fail to recognize--or even care about--the signicance of the numbers."

At the same time, he recognized the problems CPAs face. "Accounting is such a tough discipline," Forbes said, "that the characteristics required to do the basic work correctly often smother the other ingredients of success."

These insights apply to everyone seeking career success in any business or profession. When I aksed him to identify the most important attribute for anyone looking to succeed, he responded, "If you don't like what you're doing, you'll never be successful. I don't think people do something really well unless they truly enjoy what they do."

Having helped many accountants achieve career success and fulfillment over the years, I'm aware of the crucial role a positive attitude plays. Achievers can keep spirits up when under pressure and when suffering frustration, rejection or even outright failure. Many successful people I know have been fired from at least one job and can point to times in their careers when nothing seemed to go right. There's little surprise, then, that according to surveys, a large number of Americans who became millionaires by age 35 also experienced bankruptcy before discovering the right path. The ability to rise above defeat was once summed up by a very successful salesman: "I never fail," he told me. "But sometimes I get negative feedback."

What represents success for each person naturally varies depending on goals and motivations. I believe every CPA should consider whether he or she really wants to be successful.

We all claim we do. But a closer analysis of the attitudes some of us carry into the accounting profession tells a different tale.

I have created a test that, although not scientific, can help people measure their aptitude for achieving maximum career success (see the sidebar on page 107).

A low score on this test or on the myriad others designed to measure achievement potential doesn't rule out success for anyone. But such tests can prompt us to think a little about qualities we might lack that would help us achieve our goals. Recognizing a deficiency is always the first step to correcting it.

The positive attitude I mentioned earlier is, I believe, at the root of virtually all success, no matter what our professional endeavours. One example I've always found appealing came from the great Chicago Cubs short-stop and Hall-of-Farmer Ernie Banks. While other players sometimes complained about having to play two games in an afternoon doubleheader, Banks reportedly came to Wrigley Field one sunny afternoon, looked up at the blue sky and said, "A great day to play three."

Applying that sort of positive philosophy to an accounting career is a major first step toward success.
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Title Annotation:includes success-quotient quiz; positive thinking for CPAs
Author:Half, Robert
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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