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Finding Your "Can-Do" Attitude

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Finding Your “Can-Do” Attitude

Confident business womanThis is the first post of a 2 part series on the “Can-Do Attitude.”

After reading Una Coleman’s recent post about the differences between British and American business styles and having a conversation with  the lads from  Bloggertone on Facebook, it became really apparent that a lot of my business philosophy has its roots in the basic pioneering spirit of America. (Okay, I did know this already but usually it’s a negative.)

One of the most pervasive themes in American thought comes out of the pioneering spirit that settled and built a nation. It’s the “Can-Do” attitude. It’s really not unique to America though. If it were, there wouldn’t be entrepreneurs globally. It’s in all of us who have a dream for a business and then find way to make it happen.

So, here are 3 important “must-haves” to get your Can-Do attitude part of your business operations:

  • There’s gotta be another way. Your creativity and just plain stubborness are what drives this perspective. Entrepreneurs are a bit like mad scientists. How many other people do you know view failure as something other than a total 6 foot thick concrete wall? So something didn’t work or circumstances are not ideal, well, what else is there?
  • Perseverance. Did I already mention stubborness? This is it’s more socially acceptable cousin. Either way, stick to your principles, your vision, and your big idea! Your willingness to show your grit through tedious testing and monitoring how your big idea works in reality, through the many networking meetings telling everyone about your business, learning about SEO and online marketing, and so many other things you didn’t consider when you founded your business.
  • Avoid the Doom-and-Gloom crowd. Everyone has naysayers around them. Some are the talking heads who tell us how awful the recession is and how the recovery is very sluggish. For some entrepreneurs, there are family members asking them when they are going to get a real job. There are even other business owners at networking events talking incessantly about how hard it is to get clients to sign on. Yes, economic conditions are tough, no doubt! And…you have a business to run. Too much negativity is going to drain your enthusiasm, your energy, and, most importantly, your belief in what you are building.

What do you see has “must-haves” in your Can-Do attitude?

Growing a business locally or internationally takes a different mindset; the CEO Mindset. Elli St.George-Godfrey, a behavioral economics coach, international expansion consultant and founder of Ability Success Growth, uses her 3 Keys Coaching process to help business owners and executives in the US, Ireland and Northern Ireland to unlock the CEO within. Under her guidance, personal styles are fine-tuned allowing the senior leader to “authentically inhabit” the role of CEO and collaborate with their team more effectively. With this focus on both the people and the organization in which they work, Elli’s market-proven coaching helps leaders and their teams develop styles and capabilities which enables them to collaborate and effectively join together to optimize the business outcomes.

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  • Nice on Elli. I like the subject. I believe also “Consistency” plays a big role. Once you figured out a way to accomplish your mission, it’s really important that you follow that routine. Yes, there will be probably some changes to that plan, but the fact that we’re consistent in a specific action/s is what really sticks at the end of the day. As Malcom Gladwell would say: The Beatles had 10,000 hours of practice before they became popular, Mozart had more that 10,000 hours of practice before we wrote his first master pieces at the age of 21…

  • Anonymous

    A can-do attitude is great, but I am concerned that it leaves no room for failure. It seems to me that in America, if you can do, great, if you can’t, tough. An example is their healthcare system, which is difficult to access for people who can’t afford to pay health insurance. It also makes little allowance for the complexity of the human condition, or for the blows that come out of left field.

  • Hi Elli, thanks for fulfilling my request. It’s appreciated! I think that “there’s gotta be another/better/smarter/more productive way” is the biggest single difference between can-do people and can’t do people. This often stems from a frustration with established thinking and/or doing and is sometimes allied with a “lets try and make the world a better place” set of objectives. Really great post, I love it 🙂

  • Your 3 must-haves explain why more than 90% of start-ups fail. It takes guts and determination and the constitution of a brick wall!

  • A little bit of success is a must have in your can-do attitude. It doesn’t matter in what guise it comes in, whether it is helping someone to acheive their goals or doing something for yourself. It is such a wonderful feeling; a tiny step forward is, after all, a step forward. Every time you make a difference, your confidence grows. Success in one area of your life spills over into all the other areas of your life. When you feel yourself being effective, that makes you even more effective. The most enduring opportunities come in small doses, one moment at a time.

  • Anonymous

    Along with the can-do, I think you also need liberal doses of flexibility and adaptability based on clarity around the situation you are dealing with. Determination and stubborn-ness alone can have you drilling your head into that six foot thick wall….

  • @derbhiledromey I think you might be stretch the analogy a bit far. I have found that the US approach to entrepreneurial ism is a lot more accepting of failure. In silicon valley it is perfectly acceptable to be on your 3rd startup after two failures, in fact for a lot of investor it is a prerequisite to investing. Over there you are an entrepreneur who hasn’t succeed yet – here you’re a failure

  • Anonymous

    Consistency is a “must-have” for sure! When I first read Malcolm Gladwell’s point about 10,000 hours, it seemed daunting but then it is easy to forget how much thinking, dreaming, and planning entrepreneurs do and this continuous engagement sets up the “Can-Do” attitude!

  • Anonymous

    Well, it’s true that failure is not well tolerated in America for regular people and there are many gaps. The healthcare system is an excellent example of a big sucking gap. Truth be told, I’m very keen on building communities so no one is left out in the cold.

    As you probably know, failure is part of entrepreneurship so there has to be room for it. You are opening the door for the part 2 of this “Can-Do” series. Thank you for bringing your point to the conversation! It’s important to be cautious about buying into a whole idea without examining it!

  • Anonymous


    I think you’ve described so well the difficulty in trying to pigeonhole American and American attitudes. In a nutshell, we’re not monolithic. In the American entrepreneurial world, if you haven’t failed somewhere, you haven’t tried hard enough.

    Recently I was talking with 2 colleagues after a panel discussion and we were critiquing the panelists and our main objection was that they had cleaned up their stories too much. While we didn’t want all of the dirty laundry, we wanted to know how they struggled with keeping their family businesses solvent during bad economic conditions and family squabbles.

    Failure isn’t always that the venture goes belly up. It can teeter on the edge and being too stubborn to let the whole thing collapse is a great demonstration of your leadership and management skills.

  • Anonymous


    You’re welcome! It was interesting to take a look at Maybe it’s my inner punk rocker hollering but accepting status quo is not going to support an entrepreneurial venture. Given that, what is one practical step right now we can do to use the “Can-Do” attitude Irish-style?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment, Una! Your post clarified things for me and I look forward to deepening my learning! We must believe we have it in us to be the brick wall and that there is no shame in getting someone to keep us upright.

  • Anonymous


    You have actually articulated the foundation of my coaching business! Your point about helping someone else is an opportunity to cement your own learning. All part of the “Can-Do” Attitude!

  • Anonymous


    You have articulated why I started with the 1st “must-have” of the “Can-Do” attitude, there’s got to be another way. Flexibility and adaptability are crucial “must-haves” so thank you for emphasising them!

  • I would be close to Lewis on being careful with stubborness and would actually bring in the “Vision” as an attitude shaper. All attitudes or action must move around a vision, since all the rest can change, as many point out above. The vision also changes but, in general, many parts of it remain. You have a vision of “your own entrepreneurship” which may encompass at least 3 elements: How you fit in that vision – How your product or service will fit – And how the people who connect to that product will fit there. Parts of these elements remain and others change along the way. So I guess that sticking to that everchanging vision consciously makes you less prone to bang your head against that wall!

  • Anonymous


    The blog post has oversimplified the complexity of applying the “Can-Do” attitude. I totally agree with you and Lewis about using the stubborness with caution. You point out something that I often talk with entrepreneurs about-our business evolve and so does our vision. As we deepen our understanding of ourselves and our business, our vision evolves also. However, to deepen this understanding, we have to be willing to to evaluate both our performance and the performance of our business. That way, stubborness becomes commitment.

  • I agree, there is a collective reluctance to either accept, learn and move on from failure in Ireland. While failure is not something anyone sets out to achieve (with a few notables), there is a real opportunity to learn from it and become seriously successful.

    If you want to look at the very best in the world at supporting entrepreneurial ism, you look to the US. If you want to look to the very best healthcare, the French do it best as far as I know. Ireland had an real opportunity to create systems that worked for both and we squandered them.

    As a small country with a population equal to large city in the US or UK (much like a small business) we should have the ability to move fast, however, we continue to suffer from a large dose of “stuck in our ways” and “everyone needs to change except me” One of the days, we may be required to get over ourselves 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Niall and Caelen,

    Failure is a tough experience to tolerate for many as it seems a judgement on their actual selves. It would be interesting to take a look at the Irish cultural attitudes about failure and success as well as your personal definitions. What does failure mean on a national level as well as a personal level? Keep in mind, it is tough to buck a well-entrenched system.

    This is going to seem (to some) as really out there but it is a great exercise that I frequently use with my clients. Write down your answers to these questions: what does failure look like, sound like, feel like to you? What keeps an entrepreneur stuck in his/her own way?

  • Hi Elli, for me the addition I would make is not to accept the status quo or mediocraty in any element of a business. Every business has scope for improvement and people should not be afraid to put their hands up and suggest changes. Of course, management needs to encourage this kind of thinking in their teams and this is where companies often come unstuck!

  • Anonymous


    Thanks for the comment. It takes inner strength on the part of management in an organization to invite or even urge people to speak up and propose changes. There is an interesting company in Rhode Island called Rite Solutions and they encourage all of their employees to write proposals that will make either the products better or how the company runs better. This includes their plant management staff and administrative staff. When was the last time anyone asked a janitor or an administrative assistant what would make things work better?

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