THE BLOG
10/01/2014 11:57 am ET Updated Dec 01, 2014

Two Critical Factors to Consider if You Want More Success

You might think that I've completely lost it were I to start quoting to you from a Toltec shaman about financial and business success, but some truths about life and success are pretty constant. In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz MD tells us that:

"Action is about living fully. Inaction is the way that we deny life. Inaction is sitting in front of the television every day for years because you are afraid to be alive and to take the risk of expressing what you are.....You can have many great ideas in your head, but what makes the difference is the action. Without action upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results and no reward."

Ruiz's book is subtitled A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. I think it's fair to say he intends to speak of personal freedom, but he has also, in his words, captured the primary requirement for obtaining personal financial freedom. That is, taking action - getting started - actually doing something, anything, to move yourself towards a goal. Or to coin a cliché, "Wishing won't make it so".

In observing our students for more than twenty years we have found that the willingness to take action is probably the single most important determinant of success. It isn't money, smarts, good looks... just the willingness to take action.

Not every action we take will work. Life isn't like that. But if we can quickly identify and abandon mistakes, and move on, continuing to take action, the likelihood that we will be successful increases hugely. Observing other people who are good at what we want to do, finding a knowledgeable mentor or obtaining a solid practical education will all help to avoid mistakes, but it is taking action that is always going to be at the core of success.

Another success factor of which we need to be constantly mindful, is the people with whom we surround ourselves. In simple terms, we should associate with people who support us. I know that some writers say that we should attempt to associate with folk who are already successful at what we are seeking to do. While that is good advice, it's not always easy or practical. We also have to be discerning enough to recognize good advice from bad. What I mean in this context is focused on the word support. This can be as simple as people who just aren't negative or discouraging about what we want to do or are doing.

I still remember when I quit smoking for the last time over 20 years ago how my friends who still smoked were dismissive of my endeavor. It's a simple example, but I still consider that they were actually envious or confronted by the fact that I was attempting something that they wanted to do, but they were either too fearful of failure, or couldn't sum up the energy to do it themselves. Other friends though, went out of their way to encourage me. I don't remember anyone in my circle advising me how to quit, they just encouraged me, and it was a huge help.

So be very aware of what happens when you discuss your goals with those around you. Good, cautious advice is always welcome from those who want us to succeed, but be very careful about spending too much time with those who mock or put down your efforts to improve your situation. If you hear their negative comments too many times - words have power - you may begin to agree with them, which will be the death knell of your determination to succeed. Choose to involve yourself instead, with those who encourage your efforts, even if they can't tell you what to do. It will make a huge difference in the likelihood of you being mightily successful.