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Last Updated on May 12, 2020

How to Develop a Can Do Attitude and Succeed in Life

How to Develop a Can Do Attitude and Succeed in Life

In life, attitude is everything.

If you’ve got a negative attitude, it will taint your entire outlook on life and dramatically decrease your ability to succeed. With a negative attitude, you will make little (if any) progress on the goals and ambitions you set for yourself.

Instead of consciously crafting a successful life, your negative disposition will often lead to a passive personality, one in which you shrug your shoulders and let life happen to you, rather than making things happen for you.

If that’s not the life you imagined for yourself, then it’s time to transform your current attitude into a can do attitude.

Here are some powerful and practical ideas you can start using today to make that attitude shift and start an upward cycle of success for yourself that will reverberate into every area of your life.

1. Starts with Your Mindset

Since the early days of boxing, experts relied on what they called the “tales of the tape” to predict how successful an athlete’s boxing career may or may-not be. These “tales of the tape” were a series of physical measurements that included the fighter’s fist, reach, chest expansion and weight.

Experts thought these measurements could predict which athletes would be most successful in the ring based on how their numbers shook-out against these measurements.

But get this: did you know Muhammad Ali—hailed as one of the greatest boxers of all time—failed every single one of his measurements?

The so-called “experts” called him a failure. They didn’t believe he had the skills and talents to succeed. As Dr. Carol Dweck explains in her book, Mindset, Muhammad Ali “was not a natural.” Not by a long shot—at least according to the boxing experts of that era.

But nonetheless, against all odds, Ali went down in history as one of the greatest boxers of all time.

What exactly was it about Ali that contributed to his incredible success in boxing? What made him “the greatest,” as he often proclaimed? It wasn’t his brawn. It was his brain.

Author Carol Dweck explains Ali’s success as follows:

“[Muhammad Ali] was not a natural. He had great speed but he didn’t have the physique of a great fighter, he didn’t have the strength, and he didn’t have the classical moves. In fact, he boxed all wrong. He didn’t block punches with his arms and elbows. He punched in rallies like an amateur. He kept his jaw exposed. He pulled back his torso to evade the impact of oncoming punches, which Jose Torres [former colleague of Ali] said was ‘like someone in the middle of a train tack trying to avoid being hit by an oncoming train, not by moving to one or the other side of the track, but by running backwards.”

Throughout his career, he was constantly matched with athletes that were bigger, stronger and faster than himself. But he beat them anyway.

It wasn’t his physical talent or skill that helped him do succeed over and over again. It was his mental attitude. His can-do attitude to be more precise.

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This leads me to believe that in many cases, the critical factor between someone who achieves success vs someone who does not, comes down in large part to your mindset.

Our mindset determines the way we deal with tough situations and setbacks as well as our willingness to deal with and improve ourselves.

A person with a growth-mindset automatically has a can-do attitude because they don’t give up when they fail. Instead, they use failure as a learning opportunity that does nothing more than get them closer to success.

Ali helps us understand that developing a growth mindset—and by association, a can-do attitude—is about rising strong regardless of how lackluster his physical endowments may have been. Instead of looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m not good enough to be a champion;” instead he said, “I’m going to use a different path to achieve greatness.”

And that’s what he did. He showed everyone that success comes first from the gem between your ears. The same gem that chooses to leave behind negative beliefs and replace them with an attitude that says, “I can do this.”

2. Focus on Being Congruent

“While some researchers and clinicians argue that you can change your life by just changing your thoughts, actions, or feelings, I have seen no evidence in my research that real transformation happens until we address all three as equally important parts of a whole, parts that are inextricably connected to one another, like a three-legged stool.” —Brene Brown, from Rising Strong

Your thoughts + actions + feelings are like a three-legged stool.

This is similar to people that follow the old self-help advice to just “think positive.”

If we THINK positive, but we still FEEL negative, then how will we ACT?

Positive thinking is powerful, but only when we think of it as one of the three necessary legs that reinforces the stool we’re sitting on.

If we don’t want the stool to wobble or break, we’ve got to make sure we give each leg the care it needs to keep us from falling down and getting hurt.

I believe that the key here, with this idea, is to focus on being as congruent as possible.

What’s the best way to do that? Here’s how:

1. Remember that the way you think needs to be in alignment with the way you act.

When you affirm powerful thoughts to yourself about what you can do rather than what you cannot do, your biochemistry will change for the better. You will stand taller. You will move with confidence.

2. Understand that the way you act is going to have an impact on the way you feel.

When you tell yourself that you can do something over and over again, your mind will begin to believe it and accept it as the truth. This, in return, will make you feel like a winner, like a success.

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3. Realize the way you feel is going to help reinforce the way you think.

The way you feel right now has a lot to do with how you’re carrying yourself…

Are you hunching forward? Are you slouching in your seat? Are your shoulders sloped? If yes, you probably don’t feel like you’re at your best.

Now, straighten out your back, tilt your chest upward, and smile (even if you’ve got no reason to!) Not only will you notice a shift in the way you feel when you do this, but you’ll notice a shift in the way you think as well. You’ll go from thinking thoughts that lead to feeling stressed and depressed, to thinking and feeling confident and creative.

In short: you’ll have that can-do attitude that leads to the success you crave in life.

Which is going to circle right back around into helping you decide the way you choose to act in any given situation.

See the feedback loop these three end up creating?

Bottom line? It’s not about positive thinking alone that drives our success in life — it’s about being in positive congruence between the way we think, act, and feel that drives our success in life.

3. Be Mindful of Your Self-Talk

Your self-worth depends upon your self-talk.

An all-star baseball player once decided to visit a prison to inspire the inmates to better themselves. He told them a story about how his father always encouraged him when he was a little boy. His dad always told him, “son, if you keep on hittin’ the ball like that, you’ll end up in the MLB one day.”

Sure enough, he ended up playing professional baseball.

Upon hearing this story, one of the prisoners stood up and said, “hey, my dad told me something similar when I was a little boy. Every time I did something my dad didn’t like, he looked at me and said, ‘son, if you keep on mis-behaving like this, you’ll end up in prison one day.”

Sure enough, he ended up in prison.

As it turns out, 90% of male prisoners were treated like dirt by their parents when they were children. Many of them were spoken to like they were prisoners WAY before they ended up behind bars.

Now, obviously this doesn’t mean that our parents determine the future for us in advance.

We all have the ability to respond to our circumstances however we want.[1] But it certainly makes things a lot easier if we have a solid foundation to build upon.

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Regardless of how your parents spoke to you though, the take-away from this story is very simple: the way we speak with ourselves plays a massive role in the way we perceive ourselves.

And the way we perceive ourselves plays a massive role in our ability to develop a can-do attitude, and reap the rewards it affords. Our attitude goes a long way towards determining whether we decide to take on challenges and pursue success in the face of adversity.

Encourage yourself. Believe that you can do it—whatever it may be.

Your self-talk plays a huge role in your self-image.

Your self-image plays a huge role in your attitude.

Your attitude plays a huge role in your ability to succeed in the various endeavors you decide to pursue in your life.

Drop whatever limiting attitudes you’re holding on to about yourself and replace t hem with a strong, self-starting can-do attitude.

4. Become an Activationist

“Excellent ideas are not enough. An only fair idea acted upon, and developed, is 100 percent better than a terrific idea that dies because it isn’t followed up.” —David Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big

Plenty of people have excellent ideas, but only a select few are able to see their idea through to action.

There are two types of people on the planet: “activationists” and “passivationists.”

Activationists come up with ideas and execute them without hesitation—the embodiment of a “can-do” attitude.

When these folks decide to take a vacation, they take it. When they decide to call a client, an old friend, or even a potential romantic interest—they do it. Activationists decide to become successful and they will that decision into reality with a can-do attitude.

Passivationists on the other hand, might have just as many ideas as an activationist, but the passivationist executes none of them. They postpone and procrastinate their dreams and goals continually.

This lack of action – this lack of success – is the result of having a passive mentality about life and neglecting to cultivate a can-do attitude.

So, what can we do to break ourselves of the passivationist habit?

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We can start by breaking the habit of perfectionism.

Perfectionists put things off because they fear doing something wrong. However, the activationist goes ahead and does things, and then deals with any problems that arise along the way.

This also includes waiting for the “perfect” time to do something. There is no perfect time, and every minute that you wait makes it that much more likely that you will chicken out of the whole thing. Now is the magic word of achievement.

It’s time to get rid of tomorrows, laters, and sometimes—and replace them with the readiness and urgency of a can-do attitude.

You Can Do This!

Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve gone over in this article.

1. It all starts with your mindset.

If you want to achieve success in all dimensions of your life, you’ll need to get your mental game in check. Ensure you’re mindset is directed towards growth and progress for most of your waking hours.

2. Positive thinking can only get you so far.

To generate true change, to develop a real can-do attitude that helps you succeed in whatever endeavor you want, you will need to place equal importance on your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Treat them parts of yourself that are achieve their peak power and potential when they are unified and treated with equal importance. In other words: we cannot simply “positively think” our way to success.

We must combine those positive thoughts with forward-facing action.

3. Your self-worth depends upon your self-talk.

Repeatedly affirm to yourself that you have a can-do attitude. Look yourself in the mirror and literally say it out loud, “I have a can-do attitude! I have a can-do attitude! I have a can-do attitude!” Do this exercise every morning after you brush your teeth.

Yes, this will absolutely feel silly at first, but you will find that the benefits of success far outweigh the momentary feelings of embarrassment or self-consciousness you experience as a result of doing this.

4. Become an activationist.

Do not allow fear to freeze you in place and prevent you from achieving your dreams. Embody the habits of an activationist and take consistent action until you achieve what you set out to achieve.

With each achievement, you will find your self-confidence getting stronger and stronger. This then, will lead to more action, which will lead to more success…

… And this cycle of success? It never needs to stop.

More Tips for Building the Right Attitude

Featured photo credit: Christin Noelle via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Meaningful GQ: Respond Rather Than React

More by this author

Dean Bokhari

Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective?

Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective?

It has been said that rarely am I short of words, and yet I’ve rewritten this article on positive and negative reinforcement five times. Why?

It’s not as if I have a lack of thoughts on this subject. It’s not as if I don’t spend my days enabling people to communicate powerfully and get what they want in life. So why the rewrites?

I’ve found myself thinking about the diversity of people I’ve coached and how different we all can be. Usually when I write for Lifehack, I’m able to see instant commonality in the subject that means I could share some ideas that would resonate wherever you are in life, whoever you are, regardless of what you were looking to achieve or what adversity you may be facing.

However, with this, it’s a “How long’s a piece of string?” answer, i.e. I could probably write a whole book’s worth of words and still have ideas to share.

Let’s look at some key points:

  • You will have times in your life where you need to get someone to do something.
  • You will have times when someone needs you to do something.

Let’s look at how positive and negative reinforcement would work. In both of these situations, you can face some big obstacles:

  • Someone may resist your desire for them to change.
  • Someone may challenge your authority or leadership.
  • Someone may be at risk of getting hurt.

The important thing to remember is that, in life, we all have to be influenced and influence those around us, and some ways will help us get the result we want, and others won’t. However, that may differ on where you are, who you are talking to, and what you want to see happen!

So, how do we know when positive reinforcement is effective[1], and can there ever be a time when negative reinforcement is good?

Worryingly, if you get positive and negative reinforcement wrong, you can risk your career, your business, your relationships, your reputation, and your brand.

Positive and negative reinforcement each have their merits, so it’s imperative to know when to employ them. Interestingly, despite a ton of evidence to the contrary, we still rely on the wrongs ones in society, business, and even in parenting.

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The 4 examples below showcase the use of positive and negative reinforcement, and whether they personally apply to you right now or not, they will resonate and be very useful to you personally in every area of your life.

For each we will look at:

  1. What’s the problem?
  2. What have you tried?
  3. Now what?
  4. The results!

The Boss

Okay, you may not be a boss, but everyone will have times in their life where they need to get people organized and working together to get the best result. Often, leaders say things like this to me:

  • “I’ve told them until I’m blue in the face not to do that!”
  • “They constantly refuse to use the new system.”
  • “They just don’t listen.”
  • “They don’t respect me.”

What Did the Boss Try?

Often, I hear “We’ve tried everything!” No matter who is reading this, trust me, you’ve not tried everything. (That’s the first thing to accept.) When you accept that, you then need to look at what you have tried to move forward.

The boss has tried:

  • Giving the person training.
  • Spending time with them and showing them how to do it.
  • Telling them it wasn’t good enough.
  • Telling them we aren’t doing that any more.

Now What?

The above situations create tension between the two as you constantly battle to maintain your position on the situation. If you are looking to get someone to do something, and they constantly resist, you need to stop and ask yourself some questions:

  1. What have we tried? This helps you to understand what they are good at, so you can utilize that in the conversation.
  2. From their viewpoint, what could prevent them from doing what I’ve asked? What could they fear, and how will we allay those fears?
  3. What do they want? Seeing their viewpoint enables you to use their terminology and language so they feel listened to.
  4. What do they believe? Do their beliefs prevent them from seeing the benefits? Beliefs can be changed but not by force—coaching is very powerful for this.
  5. How do these answers differ from my beliefs and views? Bridging the gap helps you to see both views and communicate more powerfully.

In my experience, rarely does a boss or leader need to say the word “No.” If someone is not doing what you want them to, the quickest way to see results is to ask questions and listen. Often, when you really listen, you discover a big gap between what you think you are saying and what the other person is hearing.

The reasons why someone is not doing what you want can include:

  • They don’t know how to do what you’ve asked them to do.
  • They are scared to get it wrong.
  • They fear what people will think of them.
  • They don’t have the confidence to come and tell you they need help.
  • They are scared that someone will tell them off.
  • They don’t understand where the boundaries are.

People tell me, “But I said that to them!” If you are too close to the situation, then how likely are they to take notice from you? Here’s what you can do:

  • Get out of your usual environment – Neutral environments make difficult conversations easier. They can take you both off your guard, which can be good.
  • Start by making that person feel safe to say anything. Start with ground rules like “This is a confidential conversation” and “I won’t make any judgement on what you say, I just want to understand.”
  • Be prepared to say “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t realize.” When you do this, positive and negative reinforcement can be used.

Learning how to coach people instead of tell people is key. Enabling the other person to see the benefits of what you want for them (and not you) is quicker than trying to dictate action.

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  • Lay out expected outcomes.
  • Create boundaries.
  • Explain what support and help you will provide.

The Results

This style of reinforcement is about utilizing both positive and negative reinforcement. It enables someone to feel safe to explain why they’ve not been taking action and helps them to overcome the limitations they feel while safe in the knowledge that they will get the support to change with the positive results explained in a way that matters to them.

The Young Child

If you’ve ever found yourself on the wrong end of a relentless tantrum of a small child, you will know it can feel impossible to get through to them. While many elements of The Boss scenario could work, there are times where you may need some negative reinforcement.

What’s the Problem?

My children are now 15 and 18. I can honestly say that, while we have had some challenging behaviors, our parenting means I have two children I’m very proud of–great communicators, great work ethic, kind, funny, considerate. The point is that, for my children, this stuff works. And, to be honest, when I’m with other people’s children, they often say “How did you get them to do that!”

Young children are amazing. It’s like they’ve just woken up in a new body and have been told to go touch, feel, experience everything–every emotion, every taste, smell, experience, texture, the lot! They are curious and keen to know more. They sap up everything, and a lot of that we don’t want them sapping up!

When they go to put a pencil in an electric socket, or let go of your hand as you cross the road, it’s imperative they get the learning and knowledge they need fast. I once was talking to a parent that said I was wrong to say no to my children. I asked, “At what age would you like me to introduce them to that word?” to which they had no answer.

While I agree that there are usually a lot more words than just no for children, “no” is a word that kept you and I safe when we were small.

What Have You Tried?

While young children are incredibly intelligent, explaining the merits of your preferred course of action is not going to keep them safe. Tying them to your waist isn’t working. Punishing them and telling them there’s no more park time until you walk next to me doesn’t work either. So how do you say no and keep them safe?

Now What?

Sometimes negative reinforcement is essential[2]. For instance, my son (who adored Bob the Builder when he was little) was playing with his plastic tool kit and discovered an electric socket…I didn’t stop to explain the merits of how that could be dangerous. I said calmly, “No, that’s dangerous!”

Here’s the important point: It’s not just about your words. With young children, it’s important that your body language clearly says the same.

The Results

I did feel like the luckiest parent on the planet to have two children sleeping through the night, but that didn’t tell the full story. I can remember spending a few weeks calmly picking my daughter up with no eye contact, no overly big hug, no conversation, just saying, “Sorry darling but now’s bedtime, so back we go.” And yes, being the strong-willed girl that she is, there was sometimes a good hour of that until she got the message that Mum really isn’t going to play, turn into a dinosaur, sing, or read a story.

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The thing with positive and negative reinforcement is that you need to have faith it will work, and you are doing the right thing.

Of course, when I went in to get her from her cot the next morning, I had a big grin on my face that said, “Wow, what a grown up girl you are staying in your bed all night!” I used positive reinforcement to get the day started.

The Teenager

What’s the Problem?

If I’m honest, I don’t have problems with my teenagers. However, I think that is in no small part to my style of communication. Having respect for them is key, and appreciating how much change is happening in their lives really helps–as someone who helps large teams of people deal with change, I know how hard it can be.

However, when I wrote the article How to Enjoy Parenting Teens and Help Your Kids Thrive, I was inundated with stories of hellish behavior from other parent’s teenagers, tales of staying out all night and not phoning home, abusive behavior towards parents and teens–I really felt for all involved.

What Have You Tried?

The problem with teens is they know exactly how to wind you up like a little clock-work toy. And if you’ve had a tough day, the last thing you want is to have to deal with someone who can’t even communicate with words, let alone put their dishes in the dishwasher.

Losing it is never the option, but it can easily happen. Shouting, bribery, and doing it yourself because it’s just easier really don’t work in the long run.

Now What?

If you consider everything we’ve covered, you can see that you need to communicate using positive and negative reinforcement. In life, there are consequences to all actions, and teens have a ton of stuff to learn to become effective, successful, happy adults.

Before you embark on any course of action, consider how the other person perceives the world. What are they going through?

You may have loved being a teen, but that doesn’t ensure your children will. Likewise, in life, there are things you love that others will loathe–seeing the world through other people’s eyes really helps you to understand the best way to communicate.

The only big difference for teenagers is to use emotion with caution. I personally let my children see all emotions–I’ve not hidden my tears when I’ve lost a loved one as it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. However, if a teenager in a foul mood can spot a weakness, they may just take advantage of it.

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The Results

My kids love to tell everyone I’m a scary mom. I’m not, I just have high standards, and I’m not prepared to drop them.

We shy away from telling people what we expect and then wonder why we are getting as stressed as the other party because no one knows where they stand.

I’m happy for my children to take over the TV room and eat far too much sweet stuff and binge on a box set. Just don’t put cups on the carpet, we have places for drinks. It’s having the confidence to say this is the rule.

People think negative reinforcement is a bad thing. However, how can someone change if they don’t know what they are doing wrong? And that’s the issue: so many of us are fearful of saying “Stop doing that!” If you lack confidence, find your voice because people aren’t mind-readers.

Final Thoughts

Before you start considering whether positive or negative reinforcement is best for others, ask yourself what you respond better to.

Personally, I respond far better to negative reinforcement–I can improve and be more successful and happier if I know what I’m doing wrong. Furthermore, I know that sometimes negative reinforcement works better with some clients who really don’t want to look at the issue–but it’s always done with respect and love.

Coaching people is also a great representation of when positive and negative reinforcement is best. We are looking to find ways to increase the positive action with positive reinforcement and ways to reduce the negative results with negative reinforcement–and usually my clients keep those changes for the rest of their lives.

More on Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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