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“Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the man who wins, is the man who thinks he can.” — Vince Lombardi

For the uninformed, Vince Lombardi was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the late 1950’s and much of the 1960’s. His teams won five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls. Teams that win the Super Bowl are given the Lombardi trophy.

As a person who makes a living by observing life and trying to help others navigate it, I’ve seen people who were stronger, faster, smarter, or with other advantages fail to win life’s battles. Even those who sometimes start with a head start still fall short of the finish line.

On the other hand, I’ve been blessed to witness people overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges to reach a goal or attain victory.

It might surprise you, then, to know that I don’t believe all you need is a positive attitude and success will be inevitable. It’s certainly helps, but it’s not all you need. You’ll need help, encouragement, support, resources, training, education, and opportunity. You’ll need a basic skill set to build upon.

But, when all else is equal (or close enough), attitude can (and often does) tip the scale.

If you approach an upcoming battle and already feel defeated, you probably will be defeated. If you prepare to make a call and expect to be turned down, you likely will be turned down.

This isn’t blind optimism or simply positive thinking.

A winning attitude often shows up as grit or determination. It’s a willingness to work harder or longer than anyone else. It’s a desire to do the best job that you are capable of doing. The person who thinks they can win aren’t overconfident or cocky. Remember — it’s not that they believe they deserve to win. It’s just that they believe they can win.

Often the cocky and overconfident are those who are bigger and stronger. Up to a certain point, natural talent is all you need. But whether it’s sports or business or politics, there comes a point when natural talent alone won’t carry the day.

People with winning attitudes share certain characteristics:

  • mental toughness
  • emotional intelligence
  • strong work ethic
  • a habit of learning from their failures
  • a willingness to ask for help

These are all characteristics that be developed over time. But it does take time. Unhealthy habits and patterns must be identified and replaced. The person who wants to win must also want to learn — perhaps even more than she wants to win.

In the end, how you think does matter.