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Why your attitude is everything when it comes to your success


woman wearing glasses and Caps beanie

Throughout my life, I’ve heard many attitude-related quotes before like “if you believe you can achieve” or “what you think, you become,” but I never experienced it for myself so they meant little to me.

I’ve never understood why attitude mattered so much, or how much I could change or control my own beliefs and mindset for the better.

But my experiences this past summer have convinced me that positive attitudes matter… they matter a lot.

Over the summer, I attended a business incubator program for high school students, where I got hands-on experience in starting my own company. In the program, we were sorted into teams based on our compatibilities and our preferences, and together, we would try to solve a real-life problem with our company. All the work we did, including surveying, researching, and designing was in preparation for final pitch day at the end of camp in which we would pitch our ideas to an investor.

When we first started out as a team, we over-emphasized the need to be successful when we should have valued other things such as the entrepreneurial experience or the connections we could gain. 9 out of 10 start-ups fail, but we were confident that we could be the 1.

Because of prioritizing success too much, as a team, we began fighting over the most trivial things such as the color of a logo or who surveyed more people. We would argue for days, and no one would give in, so we couldn’t move forward. From our constant disagreements, we all developed overly critical attitudes and rejected each other’s ideas without seriously considering them. We stopped believing the team could work collaboratively and decided too quickly that our ideas were incompatible.

The real reason that caused our team to break up wasn’t our quarreling, our idea, or our unreasonable ambitions but rather our pessimistic attitudes.

Instead of trying to compromise and make things work, we just assumed it would not.

In the end, after listening to the advice of our counselors and mentors, we were able to reconcile and establish a positive attitude. Instead of dismissing each other’s ideas too quickly, we learned to be open to all proposed ideas. We reminded ourselves that arguments were normal, that our team could and would work out. Our new hopeful attitudes allowed us to compromise and finally move forward.

The big takeaway is that your attitude matters.

Preconceived beliefs and self-defeating attitudes will stop you before you actually start trying. Stop thinking “I can’t do this, this won’t work out” and start thinking, “No matter what the problem is, I’m going to solve it.” Believing that you can do it is the strongest force that pushes you to success. Even if you still failed in the end, having believed ensures that you gave it your best attempt.

But why did attitude matter so much? This question had plagued me for a while. Before this summer, I thought the most important factor to success would be actions and not attitude. After all, actions are actually working towards things right? It turns out that attitudes are have enormous influence over our actions.


From the experience with my team, I have learned 3 valuable lessons about why positive outlooks and attitudes matter.

attitude is everything - woman smiling

1. Your attitude determines your commitment.

Your opinions on something decide how much work you put into it. If you don’t value an activity, then you won’t put as much effort and time into it. If you believe that you’ll fail, you’ll try less and actually fail, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, if you believe that you’re capable, you might be surprised at how capable you actually are.

2. People match their attitudes to the attitudes of others.

People have a tendency to reflect the attitudes surrounding them. If you are optimistic and hopeful about working, others will pick up on it and also act similarly. On the other hand, if you are pessimistic and believe things can’t work out, this negative attitude will trickle in others too. 

3. Your tone sends a stronger message than your words.

What you say to others isn’t nearly as important as how you say it. In response to a flawed idea, you can say “No, that’ll never work out because of x” or “That’s an interesting idea. It could work if x was changed.” Both are rejections, but the second one sends a more positive response. The first has a critical tone while the second sounds more accepting and enthusiastic, which signals people that you’re interested in working with them.   

Always have a positive attitude and believe. Whether it’s at work or at home, think less about why you can’t do something, and instead remind yourself that the reasons why you can do it. The first step to success is to know that it’s possible, and the second step is to do it. Even in the toughest times, remember: if others have done it, you can do too.


A change in attitude might just be the solution to your problem.

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Written by Helen Liang

Helen Liang is a a senior from Barrington High School. She co-founded a startup called RunIt to incentivize people to go running. She is also a writer for Medium.