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.

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.

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.((Meaningful GQ: Respond Rather Than React)) But it certainly makes things a lot easier if we have a solid foundation to build upon.

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?

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.

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