The Three A's

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Mr. DeVos

The Three A's

"The Three A's"action, attitude and atmospherecan change your life and the lives of those around you, Rich DeVos told a group of international Amway distributors years ago. 

One of his most popular talks, "The Three A's," advised people to create a positive atmosphere that encourages and supports others to achieve their goals. In this excerpt, Rich explained how creating the right atmosphere would inspire a positive attitude and action in others.

The first one of the three "A"s is action or decisions.  The second of those is attitude.  And the third one is atmosphere, or the air that surrounds us. 


Helen and I have four children.  While they were growing up, until they became teenagers let us say, I could demand an action.  I could say, “You will do this.  You will do that.  You will run this errand,” and I could get it done.  But somewhere about the time they became teenagers, forget it.  You can’t demand anything from your kids.  You hope they’d do some of the good things.  But that’s also true in the enterprise.  You’ve all got organizations of hundreds and thousands of people, and you are helpless in the sense that you can’t force action.   Well, if we can’t do that, then what do we do to get the job done?  Well, we work on the second of the A’s, which is attitude.


We have a little better control on forming the attitude that they will have. You take them to meetings, you talk to them personally and you talk to them about having a good positive mental attitude. And you’re trying to reinforce an attitude of: We’re the greatest! Amway’s superb! Our group is outstanding! Not better than anybody else—our group is outstanding—that’s okay and that’s a very fine point; nothing wrong with promoting your group or what you do. The problem is only when you put somebody else down. Understand that. 


So you build all of those things so they have an attitude of: We’re with the right people and doing the right things and we can do anything.  We can conquer the world. That’s the kind of attitude you’re trying to instill in these people. But it all begins with trying to give them a sense of confidence about who they are, that they have the means and the capability to accomplish things. So attitude is fine, but I cannot impose my attitude upon you. 


Well, there’s only one part of the equation left then, and that’s atmosphere.  The atmosphere is the thing we control.  Once you understand that it’s the atmosphere, then you’ll stop beating your people over the head on attitude, you’ll stop trying to demand action—because you can’t anyway—and you will do what you all do already so well.  You will work at the creation of a favorable atmosphere, and when your people come into your room, your home, your business, they feel that atmosphere.  That atmosphere gives them the attitude, and that’s how they take the action.


You know, in my case, I grew up in a poor home. I lived in my grandparents’ attic when I was young because my parents couldn’t afford their own home. I grew up under the rafters; under the eaves of the roof. No big problem. A lot of people were struggling in those days. But the fact that I grew up there never had an impact on the air I breathe, because the air in the home was always one of: You can do it, things are going to get better, good times are coming and we all are going to get ahead in life! My mother, my father, my grandparents always talked that way. My grandparents came to this country with nothing, and therefore, they know what you could do when you were willing to work hard. 


Therefore, atmosphere, attitude and action.  And I welcome you and I salute you for all the fresh air you have breathed on this world, and especially, you know it, in your communities and in your own countries, where you have been a life-saving breath of air for many people who had given up. 


Recently at a symphony program here, they had written on a program, a statement which I ad libbed and I will share it with you, because they have put it this way.  Because we cannot hear the planets evolving or the sun ascending, the seasons blurring; because these and a billion of other sights have no sound, music was born.  And I added to that.  Because you cannot hear the hopeless, the discouraged, those who have given up; because these and a billion other persons have lost hope, Amway was born, because we offer that hope to those people.  And so I’m honored to be in a partnership with all of you who are creating that favorable, exciting, dynamic atmosphere throughout the world.  And that’s why, you see, we have to grow together, because our mission is so great.

The first one of the three "A"s is action or decisions.  The second of those is attitude.  And the third one is atmosphere, or the air that surrounds us. 


Helen and I have four children.  While they were growing up, until they became teenagers let us say, I could demand an action.  I could say, “You will do this.  You will do that.  You will run this errand,” and I could get it done.  But somewhere about the time they became teenagers, forget it.  You can’t demand anything from your kids.  You hope they’d do some of the good things.  But that’s also true in the enterprise.  You’ve all got organizations of hundreds and thousands of people, and you are helpless in the sense that you can’t force action.   Well, if we can’t do that, then what do we do to get the job done?  Well, we work on the second of the A’s, which is attitude.


We have a little better control on forming the attitude that they will have. You take them to meetings, you talk to them personally and you talk to them about having a good positive mental attitude. And you’re trying to reinforce an attitude of: We’re the greatest! Amway’s superb! Our group is outstanding! Not better than anybody else—our group is outstanding—that’s okay and that’s a very fine point; nothing wrong with promoting your group or what you do. The problem is only when you put somebody else down. Understand that. 


So you build all of those things so they have an attitude of: We’re with the right people and doing the right things and we can do anything.  We can conquer the world. That’s the kind of attitude you’re trying to instill in these people. But it all begins with trying to give them a sense of confidence about who they are, that they have the means and the capability to accomplish things. So attitude is fine, but I cannot impose my attitude upon you. 


Well, there’s only one part of the equation left then, and that’s atmosphere.  The atmosphere is the thing we control.  Once you understand that it’s the atmosphere, then you’ll stop beating your people over the head on attitude, you’ll stop trying to demand action—because you can’t anyway—and you will do what you all do already so well.  You will work at the creation of a favorable atmosphere, and when your people come into your room, your home, your business, they feel that atmosphere.  That atmosphere gives them the attitude, and that’s how they take the action.


You know, in my case, I grew up in a poor home. I lived in my grandparents’ attic when I was young because my parents couldn’t afford their own home. I grew up under the rafters; under the eaves of the roof. No big problem. A lot of people were struggling in those days. But the fact that I grew up there never had an impact on the air I breathe, because the air in the home was always one of: You can do it, things are going to get better, good times are coming and we all are going to get ahead in life! My mother, my father, my grandparents always talked that way. My grandparents came to this country with nothing, and therefore, they know what you could do when you were willing to work hard. 


Therefore, atmosphere, attitude and action.  And I welcome you and I salute you for all the fresh air you have breathed on this world, and especially, you know it, in your communities and in your own countries, where you have been a life-saving breath of air for many people who had given up. 


Recently at a symphony program here, they had written on a program, a statement which I ad libbed and I will share it with you, because they have put it this way.  Because we cannot hear the planets evolving or the sun ascending, the seasons blurring; because these and a billion of other sights have no sound, music was born.  And I added to that.  Because you cannot hear the hopeless, the discouraged, those who have given up; because these and a billion other persons have lost hope, Amway was born, because we offer that hope to those people.  And so I’m honored to be in a partnership with all of you who are creating that favorable, exciting, dynamic atmosphere throughout the world.  And that’s why, you see, we have to grow together, because our mission is so great.

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