“The Number One Cause of Failure.” Such is the title for too many articles around the web, and likely enough, chapters in self-help books. Which is ridiculous when you think about it, because people fail at different pursuits and goals for a huge variety of reasons, none of which can take true precedent over any other.
Besides, the statement is negative. Negativism leads to stress. And don’t you have enough stress in your life? As your life freedom coach, I want to be as positive as I can while lighting a fire under you to do what you know you need to do to live a fulfilling life. So rather than talk about the number one reason for failure, I am going to tell about the number one reason for success.
As with failure, there are plenty of principles that lead to a person’s success in any particular endeavor. Unlike failure, however, I believe that there is one overarching principle that, when followed, is guaranteed success. Read on and see if you agree.
The number one reason for success
People who succeed with their goals, succeed for primarily one reason:
They believe in what they are doing.
In the late 1990’s, I signed up with a network marketing company. The training DVD that came with the distributor pack advised newbies that if they were going to succeed with their business, they would need to take massive and immediate action.
After a year, I became part of the MLM drop-out statistics. I didn’t take “massive and immediate action.” But that wasn’t the root of my giving up. The root was that I did not believe in the system. If you don’t believe in a thing, you are not going to do much about it when it comes into your life.
Fast forward about ten years to my first attempt at making money with a blog. While I began making a small income after the first year, the blog never really profited and I ultimately gave it up. Why?
I didn’t really believe in Internet Marketing. At least, not for myself. I knew a lot of people were making good money doing it, but I didn’t believe it was for me.
However, about a year after I began the blog I started a YouTube channel. I already had a firm belief in public speaking and acting because I was good at both. In addition, I’d heard that YouTube was a great marketing strategy, and when I began to see results from my videos – namely, people began to start clicking through to my blog from the videos – I developed an even greater belief in YouTube. Because of that belief, I continue to upload videos to my channel and am making a gradually increasing income from it.
My initial belief led to action, which affirmed my belief, which led me to further action.
Another personal example: I have always wanted to be a published author, and believed it was part of my calling. But dozens of rejection letters from traditional publishers had curtailed my belief in the publishing industry.
However, I continued to believe in my own talent for writing. So, a little while after starting my YouTube channel, I published a few e-books to Kindle. I began to make money from my books – much more so than I was making from my blog. My belief in self-publishing was affirmed and my belief in my ability to write was strengthened, and so I continued to write and publish books.
In other words, belief came first, then the action necessary to succeed.
Where belief comes from
Belief is a mindset, and like all mindsets is learned. You can learn unhealthy mindsets as well as healthy mindsets.
Where do you learn them? The two main sources are your own experience, and the teaching from people you trust. When your experiences regarding a particular situation are negative, or the people you trust are in the wrong, you tend to develop unhealthy beliefs.
For example, women who are raped or sexually abused often develop an irrational fear of all men. They come to believe that men want only one thing. If you are raised by parents who are constantly afraid of losing money, you will probably end up being an adult who believes that the poverty shoe is going to drop at any moment.
On the other hand, let’s say your mom is a successful entrepreneur, your dad has always been supportive of whatever business she takes in hand. You will grow up believing in the good of the business world, as well as that marriage is a good thing.
Let’s say that as a twenty-one-year-old, you visit Japan and have a very positive experience. You are likely to return to your home country with the firm belief that Japan is a great place to live and that Japanese people are great people (and all my Japanese readers said, “Amen!” 😉 ).
Now that you understand where your beliefs come from, let’s talk about how to change unhealthy beliefs.
Change your experiences, grow your knowledge
If unhealthy beliefs come from negative experiences and training from people who, however well-intended, pass down untruths, then it stands to reason that the way to shift those beliefs is to gain new experiences and knowledge.
Easier said than done, but still possible. It will just take some time and mental effort on your part.
Without going into details, I will give you a bit of personal history: for nine years, I hated men. How did this skewed view of the opposite sex get righted in my mind?
New experiences. One experience, believe it or not, was reading Christian historical novels where the men were all kind and considerate. I began to wonder if there were men like that in real life.
I made the acquaintances of a variety of men in my church, married, single, older, younger, and found out that most of them were not scum-sucking slimeballs.
Eventually, I sought God for the strength to be able to forgive the man who had started my negative belief. That day was a day of deliverance for me.
Hating an entire half of the human population is obviously an unhealthy belief, but what if you have beliefs that are doing you no good – but you have no clue that is the case?
Observe and pray.
I’ve heard it said that the worst kind of deception is self-deception. Similarly, the worst kind of unhealthy belief is the belief you don’t know is unhealthy.
The only remedy is twofold: get out in the world and people-watch, and pray as you do.
When I was in college, a friend invited me to stay over at her house one night on the way home to a vacation break. She had four younger sisters in their mid- to late teens. At the supper table, I expected chaos. I expected her siblings to mouth off to her parents.
Why? That’s what I’d experienced at my own family’s dinner table every night during my teens.
I was genuinely – and pleasantly – shocked to discover that some families can actually make it through a meal without cussing or arguing. In fact, I remember feeling guilty when every single person, including the dad, told my friend’s mom, “Thank you for dinner.”
Up to that point in my life, I believed that family life equaled strife. I didn’t know that I was holding on to an unhealthy belief. That night, I had a new experience that began to change my belief about how families work.
You change your beliefs by experiencing other people who come from different circumstances than you, and watching how they behave and interact. Then you pray for wisdom and discernment so you can determine where your unhealthy beliefs lie.
How long does it take to change?
Notice that, in the case of how I perceived men, it took me nine years to change. Unhealthy beliefs don’t necessarily take a long time to change, but sometimes, they do. So, here’s my question:
How much do you want success?
If you are serious about developing a life of freedom and success, you have to be willing to do what it takes to get there. You need to get out an create new experiences for yourself. You need to be patient.
The number one cause of success – in whatever area of life you set a goal – is having healthy beliefs, about both yourself and the world at large. So start experiencing the good side of things, and soon you will be able to believe it.