Here we are in 2021, the year in which many people were looking forward to putting 2020 in the rearview mirror.

But with the recent attack on the Capitol, with numerous states struggling to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, with governors and mayors continuing to make bad decisions on controlling the virus, and Americans still seeking financial help as individuals and businesses, looking through the windshield is not very enticing.

Plus, the executive, legislative and judicial political situation on the federal level is murky at best — murkier than many of us have ever seen it.

This includes not knowing how much bureaucratic red tape will be piling up in the approximately 2,000 government agencies, divisions, departments and commissions. Such red tape on state levels is currently the primary cause of poor COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

This is a great time to consider a quote from my early mentor Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, former pastor of New York’s Marble Collegiate Church and author of The Power of Positive Thinking: “The secret of life isn’t what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you.”

He dealt with numerous negative situations in his 95 years and found this to be true over and over again.

True, the emphasis on developing and maintaining a “positive attitude” has been overused, and the “Attitude is everything” phrase is incorrect.

You’ve got to have more than a positive attitude. You’ve got to have some ability, some skills, some intelligence, some common sense, some communication know-how, a good work ethic, and then actively use these effectively (do the right thing) and efficiently (do the thing right).

We all encounter problems and negative situations. We all sometimes feel overwhelmed.

At such times it’s good to recall Psalm 94:19, “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

It is at such times that most of us can realize we are blessed with much more than the negativity we face.

In such times, “attitude” is still where we can begin to turn bad into good, or at least make it more palatable.

As I emphasize in my A Strategy For Winning book, “Problems can bring out the worst or best in you. You can fold under pressure or you can tap powerful resources that are already in you to help you become stronger rather than weaker. The way you think changes the way you look and perform.”

Many people hope and wish to overcome something — to win — but never raise their confidence levels high enough to really EXPECT to win.

I’m reminded of arriving for an early morning appointment and the office receptionist, dealing with a computer problem, told me, “It’s been a bad day.” I replied, “But it’s only 8:30.” She responded, “Yeah — it’s gonna’ be a long day.” Not much positive expectation here.

When speaking to business groups, sports teams and other organizations, I have often said, “Individuals make the plays; teams win the championships.”

Frequently, I have emphasized to football teams, “Games are won one play at a time by individual players who execute the way they are supposed to execute, one play at a time. You do the individual thing you are supposed to do to help win that one play.

In all organizations, the better each person does his or her job, the more pleasing the outcome will be for everyone.

As we go along, we can learn from our failures to improve on the next play. We can’t control everything as individuals. But one thing we can control is how we respond to situations and people.

Carl Mays is a National Speakers Hall of Fame member and author of over a dozen books, including A Strategy For Winning (foreword by Coach Lou Holtz). Email: carlmays@carlmays.com.