6 min read

Attitude Determines Our Success Or Failure

May 20, 2016 6:30:00 AM

Today we’re sharing insight from guest blogger Phil D’Amico, Director of Business Development and Marketing for Majority Builders. We hope you enjoy Phil’s wisdom and perspective.

Attitude_-_DAmico.jpgWhen I think about what determines the success of an organization, an individual, a team, or a business, I cannot help but continually come back to what is/are the attitude(s) of that person and group. I am reminded of what former Notre Dame coaching great and legend Lou Holtz said in reference to the importance of attitude in winning teams:

“Your ABILITY is what you’re capable of doing….MOTIVATION determines what you do… ATTITUDE determines how well you do it.”

So many times in business, sports, or life in general, our attitude is the only barrier standing between us and success. As we see from the quote above, the ability to accomplish something is inherent in all of us, provided we are motivated. But how we get there and our approach (attitude) will ultimately determine our success or failure. Our attitude comes down to three elements.


The first is our outlook. Are we positive or negative? Abraham Lincoln once said: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Our outlook will determine, in many cases, whether or not we are destined for success.

The power of positive thinking can go very far in achievement. I coach high school basketball and I never think our team is ever out of a game, even if we are behind by 10 points with 20 seconds to play. I continually coach like we are going to win and I tell my team during timeouts that we are going to win. I may be crazy, and some think I am, but I never believe failure or losing is an option. I consistently believe in a positive outcome. And I will work feverishly to achieve winning.

It was Nelson Mandela who stated, “I never lose…I either win or I learn.” Your approach, be it in business, life, or sports, has to be just that: always believe in success and refuse to lose.

But your work ethic has to back that up as well. It’s one thing to always believe in success, but are you giving the MAXIMUM effort to achieve success? While believing you will not fail is positive, your work ethic must also support this no-fail outlook. You decide and choose to make your outlook however you want, but we all must be prepared for the outcome. Step one starts with you, no one else. Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves.”


Secondly, we must always be aware of our approach, as it is imperative that we always strive to do the very best we can on everything we do. Teams, businesses, organizations - none of those can succeed without each of us doing our job to the best of our abilities. We all need to strive to achieve perfection no matter what our role or job is within an organization. We need to have the attitude that we will do the best job we can every minute we are doing the job.

How many of you would want to get into a car that was assembled by disgruntled individuals who had a bad day, or negative attitudes, which led to them not taking pride in their work; especially if they were working on, let’s say your automobile brakes? Maybe they were not engaged in the team concept that day and really did not care about doing things right, as much as you would expect. The outcome of bad attitudes can be catastrophic across the entire organization, leading to unsuccessful outcomes as well as detrimental consequences. Perhaps the greatest college basketball coach of all time, John Wooden used to say: “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

It is worth noting that your attitude has a profound impact on the success of your team and teammates. Your actions and your approach, good or bad, will be felt by everyone down the line; whether you are first in the chain or the last, your role is felt by everyone. Again this starts with you and your outlook, and now your approach.

Ability To Overcome Adversity

Lastly, our ability to overcome adversity is critical in what dictates our attitude. Up until now, we have discussed when everything is positive, but none of us are exempt from encountering adversarial circumstances. Pertaining to adversity, I am reminded of two quotes from Lou Holtz:

  1. “Never tell your problems to someone else…20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.”
  2. “Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.”

Adversity is part of success. Many times we do not know how strong we are until we face adversity head on, overcome it, and succeed. Why complain? I mean, ultimately it is on us to approach the situation, use a strong outlook, positive approach, and overcome what we did not anticipate when we ventured into the process.

Any team will tell you that even in their best years, there were bumps along the road to success, but how you overcome those, your work ethic, determination, and will determine your fate, not luck. We all have been in this spot, either professionally or personally. I am a firm believer that through adversity comes opportunity. The outcome does not define who we are, but rather the route we take to get there.

One of the greatest college football seasons ever was that of Marshall University in 1971. Many of you may remember the story of a deadly 1970 plane crash carrying all but four of its team players. At the behest of a couple of the players who were left behind, the school restarted the football program in 1971. Aside from 3 players, this team was made up entirely of freshmen. They went 2 and 8 that season, but no one considered it a losing or failed season. As what they accomplished and what they overcame to play and compete, no one could EVER imagine doing after such a tragic, horrific life event. Several years later the Thundering Herd developed into one of the best programs in the Mid-American Conference - producing NFL professionals and conference championships.

What’s The Risk?

So what is the risk in business, life, or in the above sports analogies, if we don’t approach our passions and work with a great attitude? The risk we run when we approach anything we do in life with less than a good or positive attitude is simply this…failure. Failure to give everything we have…failure to achieve our goals, objectives, and mission…failure to contribute to our team goals…failure of oneself.

In perhaps one of the greatest pre-game speeches of all time former Marshall football coach Jack Lengyel stated: “When you lay it all on the line, give everything you have, with all of your heart, you cannot lose, you cannot, and will not, be defeated.”

It would have been very easy for Marshall University to give up on football, to give up on recovering from such an adversarial tragedy. But their outlook, approach, and ability to overcome adversity showed their true character and more importantly what can happen with a great attitude. Take a page from Marshall’s book. Approach your passions and work with a great attitude. 


This content was written and shared by guest blogger, Phil D’Amico.

Phil_DAmico_headshot.jpgPhil D'Amico is currently Director of Business Development and Marketing for Majority Builders, as well as host of WNIT’s Economic Outlook, a weekly talk show. Phil has over 15 years of executive leadership experience in the Michiana region while working in areas such as Economic Development, Business Development, Marketing, Legal work, and Manufacturing. Phil has earned degrees from West Virginia University, Temple University and executive management continuing education work at Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame. Phil is also the head women's basketball coach at Niles High School in Niles, Michigan. 

Connect with Phil on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Topics: Executive

Written by Gibson

Gibson is a team of risk management and employee benefits professionals with a passion for helping leaders look beyond what others see and get to the proactive side of insurance. As an employee-owned company, Gibson is driven by close relationships with their clients, employees, and the communities they serve. The first Gibson office opened in 1933 in Northern Indiana, and as the company’s reach grew, so did their team. Today, Gibson serves clients across the country from offices in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Utah.