I’ll never forget the story my daughter told me one day. She heard this from a speaker in elementary school when she was a teacher. Although the account is likely invalid, it nevertheless paints a picture of what “attitude” is and its impact on people.

“A man finds himself accidentally locked in a refrigerated boxcar. Unable to get out, he uses a knife to etch words and phrases onto the wooden floor, such as….” It’s so cold, my body is numb,” and “I don’t have much longer….” As the hours go by, the man slowly succumbs to death. The next day, the man’s body is discovered.

His written records indicate death due to hypothermia, but the physical evidence shows that the temperature never dropped below 50 degrees. So if it wasn’t hypothermia that caused his death, then what was i

ATTITUDE, plain and simple. He was going to die, and there were no other options.

This story shows how powerful our attitude can be and how it can dramatically alter the outcome of any situation.

 As safety professionals, a big part of what we do involves behavior change. Whether from behavior observation, one-on-one conversations, investigations, or even training. Throughout my career, I’ve noticed companies focus a lot on numbers. I know many safety professionals spend much time reviewing and evaluating statistical results and KPIs. This is important and relevant information, but why are the numbers where they are? The numbers reflect the total workforce behaviors and commitment based on their attitude!

My experience, observations, and research have shown that a person’s attitude determines their behaviors resulting from their actions.

So, what happens when a person’s attitude interferes with and affects their behavior? Can a person’s attitude be changed? It can be. I have long taught that behaviors can be changed and modified through face-to-face interactions and by engaging the workforce in solving problems through expected communication, providing adequate training, and identifying their responsibility and resulting accountability. However, each person truly does control their attitude. It’s their choice.

Webster’s dictionary defines attitude as; “a feeling or a way of thinking that affects a person’s behavior.” Of course, individuals will bring their thoughts, feelings, and ways of thinking with them. But as Safety Professionals, if we can influence people to perform their tasks safely, we can generate a positive attitude.

If we dissect this definition, we discover that a person’s attitude is “the way of Thinking.” So, if I change their “way of thinking,” I can change their attitude and behaviors. If we change their behavior, then we can reduce risk and potential injuries.


In thinking about the work forces’ attitudes and behaviors, one of the biggest focuses has to be your attitude. Attitude is more important than anything else; it is more important than money than your circumstances, failures, or successes. It is more important than your appearance, talent, or skills. YOUR attitude indicates who you are and results in your RISE AND FALL!

I heard Chuck Swindoll say this,

“Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

There is a direct correlation between attitude and behavior. As leaders, our most effective approach to success or failure is our attitude. A person’s behavior is genuinely affected by their attitude. A person’s behavior doesn’t dictate their attitude, but their attitude can dictate their behavior.

As a safety professional, YOUR attitude will determine your success or failure and your workforce’s success, loss, and safety. Winston Churchill said,” Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” In addition, YOUR attitude will reflect the behaviors of YOUR workforce because YOUR attitude is contagious to YOUR workforce!

How does attitude affect your work and the safety of your workforce? The first question to ask yourself is, “What is your attitude today?” We all have days where our overall attitude could improve, but how is yours towards your workforce, your boss, or your commitment to the current expectations? Some of us have constant negative and negative attitudes, and some have mixed attitudes.

YOUR negative attitude will lead to carelessness, complacency, taking shortcuts, or even serving as a distraction from a work task. In addition, a negative attitude towards safety will generate unsafe behaviors. The National Safety Council has identified that over 98% of injuries result from dangerous behaviors. So if you have a negative attitude, you will FALL because of the incidents and injuries within your workforce and assigned areas.


To determine your attitude, consider the answers to these three questions and follow the five steps below to improve YOUR attitude.

  • Do you think your attitude negatively or positively affects your workforce?
  • Think about “why” your employee left with a negative perspective.
  • How can I improve my attitude tomorrow?

Our attitude can even contribute to or detract from our achievements. A positive attitude and an overall sense of optimism are building blocks to RISE for success.


  1. IDENTIFY. Ask yourself your attitude and why it is in that condition.
  2. IT’S IN YOUR HEAD. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can do a thing or you can’t, you’re right.” How we think about ourselves, life, work, or other circumstances can drastically affect our attitude.
  3. THAT IS WHAT I DID. My whole mental and physical world crumbled when my mom and dad died recently. First, I told myself their quick deaths reflected my negative attitude toward people. Then, finally, it hit me. I wasn’t just grieving or upset; I was actively choosing to be negative. I had given up responsibility for my actions and surrendered my freedom to choose my way.
  4. TAKING BACK MY CONTROL. After losing my strong leadership approaches and ultimately losing a favorite job, I realized everything could be taken from us. Still, one thing: the freedom to choose MY attitude in any given circumstance determines my opportunity to RISE AND FALL!
  5. BE CONSTANTLY AWARE. It is essential to do a daily self-check. An excellent way to do this is to monitor your thoughts or conversations with others. If you are having more negative conversations than positive ones, it is a good indicator that you must improve your attitude. It is easy for your attitude to tip towards the negative side as stressors pile back on in your personal and professional life. There will always be issues in your life, but it is essential not to let them negatively affect you and ultimately affect your workforce.


Please take responsibility for your attitude, recognizing that it can change how you live and lead. You manage it daily, cultivating and developing positive actions, thoughts, conversations, and habits. You can make your attitude your greatest asset. It can become the difference maker in your success.

I understand this is much information, and some feel this needs to be more work to focus on. However, this was created due to my attitude failure, which has declined my ability to be a successful leader. I will admit it was hard to think through. But I know this information will support a positive change in your attitude and, ultimately, your leadership success. Just remember the choice of YOUR attitude determines……………. YOUR RISE AND FALL!

Denis is an Executive Director for the John Maxwell Group and is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behaviorial Consultant. Denis is a senior safety professional and a strong, passionate influential person. He is committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.