Sure, success is ultimately based on action.
But action starts with one critical element: belief.
Successful people believe: in their ideas, in their determination, in their persistence, in other people... in themselves. Their beliefs inform and inspire their actions -- and that's what makes them successful.
What do successful people believe?
1. They believe success is only inevitable in hindsight.
Read stories of successful entrepreneurs and it's easy to think they always had some intangible entrepreneurial something -- ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity, whatever -- that you don't have.
Success is inevitable only in hindsight. Look back on any entrepreneurial path to greatness and it's easy to assume that every vision was clear, every plan was perfect, every step was executed flawlessly, and tremendous success was a foregone conclusion.
In reality, success is never assured. Only in hindsight does it appear that way.
If you're willing to work hard and persevere, who you are is more than enough. So don't measure yourself against other people. Pick a goal and measure progress against that goal.
That's the only comparison that matters.
2. They believe they can choose themselves.
Once you had to wait: to be accepted, to be promoted, to be selected... to somehow be "discovered."
Not anymore. Access is nearly unlimited; you can connect with almost anyone through social media. You can publish your own work, distribute your own music, create your own products, attract your own funding.
You can do almost anything you want -- and you don't need to wait for someone else to discover your talents.
The only thing holding you back is you -- and your willingness to try.
3. They believe their role is to serve.
No one accomplishes anything worthwhile on his own. Great bosses focus on providing the tools and training to help their employees better do their jobs -- and achieve their own goals. Great consultants put their clients' needs first. Great businesses go out of their way to help and serve their customers.
And as a result, they in turn reap the rewards.
If you're in it only for yourself, then someday you will be by yourself. If you're in it for others, you'll not only achieve success.
You'll make a tremendous difference in the lives of other people.
4. They believe they will win through persistence.
Success is often the result of perseverance. When others give up, leave, stop trying, or compromise their principles and values, the last person left is often the person who wins.
Other people may be smarter, better connected, more talented, or better funded. But they can't win if they aren't around at the end.
Sometimes it makes sense to give up on ideas, projects, and even businesses--but it never makes sense to give up on yourself.
Always, always, always be the last one to give up on yourself.
5. They believe in doing things no one else is willing to do.
Even if those things are simple. Even if those things seem trivial. To be different you must act differently -- and the easiest way is to do things no one else is willing to do.
6. They believe in making lasting connections.
For many people the process of building a network takes on a life of its own; numbers, not people, matters most.
But we don't need numbers. We need real connections: people we can help, people we can trust, people that we care about and that care about us.
So forget numbers. Make connections with people you want to be part of your professional or personal life for a long time. And when you do, forget about receiving and focus on providing, since that is the only way to establish a real connection and relationship.
Numbers aren't there for you when you need them. People are. Connect with people.
7. They believe that strategy is important... but execution is everything.
Strategy is not a product. Binders are filled with strategies that were never implemented.
Develop an idea. Create a strategy. Set up a rudimentary system of operations. Then execute, adapt, execute some more, and build a solid operation based on what works.
Strategy is important but only in the way it informs execution. Successful people are successful because they know how to execute--over and over and over again.
8. They believe real leadership is determined over years, not moments.
Genuine leadership isn't situational. Genuine leadership isn't short-lived.
Great leaders consistently inspire. Great leaders consistently motivate. Great leaders earn the right to lead. They make people want to follow them.
That takes trust -- and trust takes time.
9. They believe that work comes first and payoff comes later... often much later.
Ever heard someone say, "If I got promoted then I would work harder"? Or, "If the client paid better then I would do more"? Or, "If I thought there would be a bigger payoff then I would be willing to sacrifice more"?
Successful people earn promotions by first working harder. Successful businesses earn higher revenue by first delivering greater value. Successful entrepreneurs earn bigger payoffs by first working hard, well before any potential return is in sight.
Most people expect to be compensated more before they will even consider working harder.
Successful people see compensation as the reward for exceptional effort, not the driver.
10. They believe they will write their own slice of history.
Most people won't make it onto the Mount Rushmore of great entrepreneurs. Most people won't become a household name.
And that's okay. You can still make a small change in your industry. You can still make a small change in your profession. You can still make a small change in the lives of your employees and customers.
You can be responsible for a number of minor changes... and who knows, possibly even a major one. You just have to be willing to try something new.
Which, of course, is what successful entrepreneurs do every day.