How Can a Positive Mindset Help Overcome Challenges

How can a positive mindset help overcome challenges? There are many examples of successful people around the world who have shown that a positive mindset is the secret to succeeding in business and life.

Henry Ford Portrait

Henry Ford is a great American story of someone who had dogged perseverance and optimism. Ford famously said:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

I think Ford was absolutely right. It’s true that a positive mindset helps you overcome challenges because you are far more likely to overcome them if you believe you can. If you don’t believe you can, then you put in less effort and quit trying.

A positive mindset helps you to overcome challenges in several ways.

  • A positive mindset helps you keep trying by giving you confidence so you will continue working to overcome your challenges.
  • It gives you the mental strength to persevere through difficulties.
  • A positive mindset energizes your creative powers to solve problems.
  • It inspires people around you to help you.

Unless you are attempting to do something that no one else has ever done before, then others have already overcome whatever challenge you are facing. So then you only need to be determined to solve your problems. If you’re as determined as Elon Musk is, you will succeed.

Mindset is Everything

I saw an interview with Elon Musk on the American television program “60 Minutes”. The interviewer played a video of several famous NASA Apollo astronauts, including Neal Armstrong and Gene Cernan, testifying to Congress that commercial space programs are a bad idea.

Musk was visibly upset about his heroes having a negative view of his efforts to make SpaceX a success. The interviewer asked Musk if he “ever thought about packing it in”. 

Elon Musk said he was sad and he looked almost ready to cry. Then he replied:

“I don’t ever give up! I mean, I’d have to be dead or completely incapacitated [to give up].”

There have been many challenges and many failures in SpaceX but Elon Musk never quit. Now NASA and public and private companies are routinely using SpaceX. They are transporting astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station and placing satellites in orbit.

So much for the opinions of famous astronauts. NASA hasn’t launched a rocket since 2011. SpaceX is revolutionizing space travel and reducing costs with reusable components that return and land. Success, all because of a positive mindset and hard work.

Related: Magic Benefits of Failure

Creating the Mindset to Overcome Challenges

So what exactly are the mindsets that make people like Henry Ford and Elon Musk successful? 

Growth Mindset

A growth mindset means believing you can grow and improve your abilities through hard work, good strategies and help from others. 

With a growth mindset, you embrace failures and problems as a way to grow and improve your performance.

One way to develop a growth mindset habit is to reframe the situation by the words you use to describe it. 

Framing of a situation has a massive effect on your mindset. Instead of calling it a “challenge,” label it as an “opportunity” to learn, grow and improve your performance. Make it a habit to always describe your situation in positive words. 

For example, say “learning” instead of “failing”. Learning why something didn’t go well and finding a better way are the only ways to approach a failure. Failure is the opportunity to learn what doesn’t work and find another way that does work. So it is in fact a learning opportunity.

You can almost always find a way to reframe a negative reference in a more helpful and productive way.

Here is an exercise you can use to establish a permanent habit of framing things in a positive growth mindset.

  • Wear a small rubberband on your wrist that fits tightly but comfortably.  
  • Any time you find yourself referring to a situation in a negative way, snap the rubber band on your wrist enough to be a little painful.
  • Then think of a positive way to frame the situation.

Reference Article: Eliminate Negative Thinking.

Optimistic or Positive Mindset

An optimistic mindset means looking at the world, events and other people in the most favorable way. For example, you assume that the person who cut you off in traffic is unemployed and running late for a job interview and not just an ill-mannered person. Or you imagine he or she just got news that a loved one was rushed to the hospital. 

Thinking like this, optimistically, can make you much happier, reduce your stress and improve your level of success.

Here is an exercise you can use to train your brain to be more optimistic. 

You change your focus from problems to solutions by using a trigger formula.


So IF {You are focusing on a problem} THEN {Say to yourself “I focus on solutions} AND {Then do problem solving steps}.

Problem solving steps:

  • Define the problem.
  • If it’s out of your control, then adapt, look for opportunity and find ways to learn and grow.
  • List possible solutions to the problem.
  • Choose the best solution that you can implement now.
  • Take action right away.

Remember, if there is nothing you can do to change it, then it’s not a problem. It’s a fact and you have to live with it. Decide to find a way to learn, grow or find opportunity in the situation.

For example, you couldn’t change the fact that you were laid off or fired from a job. But you could control how you respond by taking steps to find a new and better job. You could decide to learn some new skills and enhance your resume.

Reference Article: Strategies to Boost Optimism

Can Do Mindset

Henry Ford tasked his engineers to design and build an engine with 8 cylinders cast in 1 block. All of the engineers agreed that it was impossible to do. Ford directed them to produce it anyway.

How Can a Positive Mindset Help Overcome Challenges

Even after a year, they hadn’t produced the engine Ford wanted.

Ford directed them to continue working on this project. Then, as if by magic, the engineers discovered the secret to make it happen.

There are a few keys that help you develop a can do mindset like Ford and other successful people.

How to Develop a Can Do Mindset

Increase your self confidence. Self confidence is high in people with a can do attitude. You can increase your confidence in several ways.

 1. Study and become an expert at what you are working to achieve.

This will make you more confident. Also, make every challenge a learning opportunity and you will gain expertise and confidence.

 2. Carry yourself in a confident posture and physically project that you are supremely confident. 

  • Every time you stand up, assume an upright posture and smile.
  • Walk with a confident stride like you know exactly what you want, where you are going and you feel unstoppable. 
  • Your actions will generate feelings of confidence.

Never Quit Mindset

There are countless stories of people who kept trying again and again and again until they succeeded. Edison and his light bulb, Sylvester Stallone being rejected dozens of times for his “Rocky” movie script, and Schawrtznegger being rejected over and over and over again and laughed at by Hollywood.

I wrote this earlier and it’s important enough to mention again.

Unless you are attempting to do something that no one else has ever done before, then others have already overcome whatever challenges you are facing and succeeded. 

So then it is only a matter of you being determined to never quit working to solve your challenges to reaching your goal.

With the internet, you can search on Google or YouTube and find someone who had the same problem you are facing and they explain how they solved it.

Use the trigger formula to develop a habit of persistence and resilience.


If {I think about quitting} THEN { I SAY “Winners never quit and Quitters never win”} AND {Then I DO this checklist}

  1. Write down precisely what’s making you think about quitting.
  2. Research what others have done in this situation and come up with your own ideas.
  3. Make a list of what you can do about it. 
  4. Decide what to do. 
  5. Start immediately to carry out that decision.

 Remember the words of Elon Musk …

“I don’t ever give up! I mean, I’d have to be dead or completely incapacitated [to give up].”

Here is a nice article about developing a can do attitude.

The Final Words on How Can a Positive Mindset Help Overcome Challenges

First of all, we change the title of this paragraph to “How My Positive Mindset Helps Me Embrace Learning Opportunities.” Reframing is a key skill to develop.

Below is an action plan for you to implement these strategies for improving your positive mindset and embracing your future learning opportunities.

Action Plan

Create a Powerful Positive Mindset

1. Choose One of the strategies.

2. Choose a starting day and commit to work on this for 30 days.

3. Set a daily reminder [Reminder Services Search].

4. If you miss a day, pick up the next day and keep going until you finish.

5. After 30 days choose another strategy.


  • Framing the situation and using a rubberband on your wrist.
  • If … Then trigger for focusing on solutions.
  • Assume a powerful posture every time you stand up to feel more confident.
  • If … Then trigger for never quitting.

Take advantage of these ideas by doing something now to get going. 

Best wishes in your journey of embracing opportunities and achieving your goals with a positive mindset.


References for Positive Mindset

On the Power of Positive Thinking: The Benefits of Being Optimistic – Michael F. Scheier, Charles S. Carver, 1993. (2020). Current Directions In Psychological Science. Retrieved 23 July 2020, from

Norem, J., & Chang, E. (2002). The positive psychology of negative thinking. Journal Of Clinical Psychology58(9), 993-1001. doi: 10.1002/jclp.10094

Eagleson, C., Hayes, S., Mathews, A., Perman, G., & Hirsch, C. (2016). The power of positive thinking: Pathological worry is reduced by thought replacement in Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Behaviour Research And Therapy78, 13-18. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2015.12.017

Norem, J. K., & Chang, E. C. (2001). A very full glass: Adding complexity to our thinking about the implications and applications of optimism and pessimism research. In E. C. Chang (Ed.), Optimism & pessimism: Implications for theory, research, and practice (p. 347–367). American Psychological Association. Retrieved 23 July 2020, from