How to develop a Can-Do Attitude

Introduction - Dave's story

Take Dave (not his real name), an outgoing, intelligent, creative young sales manager who wanted to develop his business sales skills. Dave had some fantastic ideas and loads of energy, but he was stuck on how to generate more clients. In particular, he had a huge mental block around his abilities to sell, muttering phrases (limiting beliefs) such as….

• ‘I am no good at this…’

• ‘I never know what to say…’

• ‘I don’t like asking for the order…’

All common place excuses in Dave’s dialogue when talking to himself. Yes we all talk to ourselves so you’re not as mad as you thought you were. What Dave had become very good at doing was focusing on what he couldn't do, and every time he went out on a sales call he started bringing up his past memories as evidence to back up what he had already decided to believe and that was that he couldn't sell which is classic away from behaviour. In other words, memories of past embarrassing sales calls and boring business meetings that he had been involved in that had achieved nothing but cost him his time and ultimately his self-esteem and confidence.

Shifting focus

What Dave needed to do was shift his focus from what he couldn't do – his Away From behaviour - into what he could do, i.e. into his Towards behaviour.

Towards behaviour is most easily identified in the language we use. It focuses on what we can do and usually starts with phrases such as:-

• ‘What I am going to do is….’

• ‘How I intend to deal with this is as follows…’

• ‘What I propose we do is…’ etc, etc.

Towards language is always about taking responsibility and ownership for your own destiny – it’s about positive can do language rather than negative can’t do language. So, back to Dave…

What Dave did was stop his negative can’t do behaviour (habit) of beating himself up for his shortcomings and started a new habit of nurturing his strengths and taking control over his own direction in life. In short, he developed a Towards behaviour i.e. a can-do attitude.

So, if you have just realised you have an Away from streak in you, here’s the six steps to developing a can-do attitude that I recommended to Dave so you too can benefit from his experiences. It’s as easy as 1,2,3 or should I say 1 to 6!

Six Easy Steps on how to develop a Can-Do Attitude

1. Notice your own language

When you hear yourself (or someone else) say can't do, stop and ask, ‘What would it take to change that to can do?” And focus on that.

Don’t go down the can’t do path; it's a one-way street to justifying doing nothing, lower self-esteem and a lack of confidence and motivation. So…

2. Develop a problem-solving mind-set

Look beyond "can't" to “can” by asking questions like why not? and what if I did?

3. Focus on what you can do about your issue

Look for positive past experiences when you successfully solved the same or a similar sort of problem and remember what worked for you. Play to your strengths by looking for ways to solve your problem with your strengths.

4. Be prepared to go outside your comfort zone by trying something different

Brainstorm ideas that allow you to look at things differently and remember, ‘If you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always got.’ Work from the mind-set that there’s always more than one way to solve a problem. Usually when we find a solution to a problem we look no further – big mistake! So, when you get a solution to a problem, keep looking and try to find five or more additional solutions. Then you have to decide which one to implement which is easy (providing all your solutions will solve your problem) – it’s the cheapest or the easiest. Better still, both!

5. Do it your way

Stop playing by others’ rules, and stop comparing yourself to others. Stop thinking in negative terms about why you can’t do something and instead start thinking about how you can make things work on your own terms by using your own skills and abilities.

6. Be positive by using towards behaviour

Finally, by always being positive, positive things will happen and remember, the opposite is also true.


Terry Ingham, Performance Coach, Master Practitioner & Licensed NLP Trainer I am a performance coach with nearly 30 years experience. I started my coaching career back in 1977 as a Judo Coach and went on to work at International and Olympic level. Now a Corporate Coach, I apply my experience in the pursuit of superior individual and team based performance in a business and personal context and am personally dedicated to assisting my clients to realise and release their true people potential...

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