Three Steps to Success

“Oh, Ney, Ney, Ney, the throne? Do you know what the throne is, Ney? The throne. . . , is an over-decorated piece of furniture. It’s what’s behind the throne that counts: My brains, my ambitions, my desires, my hope. . . , my imagination, and above all. . . , my will.”

Napoleon, in the movie, “Waterloo.” (1971).

The paper that you are about to read may be the most important words of your life.

There are three simple steps to success, but before going into them, a few things need to be understood about how success works.

What is success?

Isn’t it interesting that people define success differently, but everyone defines failure the same way? Everyone has their own set of desires, and it could be said that success is achieving what you desire most in life. But how is it done?

How do people really succeed?

Many people go through life thinking that it is impossible to succeed. When they see a successful person, they make excuses for their own failures. These “reasons” are nothing more than a set of myths. Let’s take a look at a few of them. What does it really take to succeed?

Is it a good education?

There are many brilliant people that are failures. How many poor professors do you know?

Is it hard work?

Think about all those people working in the fields picking food. They work very hard, but few of them are very successful.

Is it connections – the people you know?

Many successful people seem to come out of nowhere, don’t they? Most develop connections along the way, or after they become successful. Developing connections is often part of the process of success, but it is rarely the reason why people succeed.

Is it being born into the right family?

Many people that are born into wealthy families are abject failures. And many more successful people were poor at some point in their life.

Is it natural talent?

While it is true that some people are born with natural talent in things, it is even more true that those with talent in something rarely – if ever, develop it. Many of the world’s most successful people lack natural talent.

Is it destiny, fate, astrology, karma?

Some successful people seem to have a sense of destiny or fate, but many successful people do not. What successful people do share, however, is an unshakeable belief in their ability to succeed.

As a child, you wanted to walk and you succeeded, didn’t you? Everyone learns to walk. But why doesn’t everyone learn to succeed? It isn’t the same thing, you say? But it really is.

The Success Model

As a child, you wanted something very badly: To walk.

You then tried to do it, and failed. Everyone fails.

But you tried it again.

And failed again.

And tried it again, and failed again and again and again and again.

But one day, you succeeded.

This is how we learn everything:

  • We want something.
  • We try to get it.
  • We fail.
  • We try again.
  • We fail again.
  • We try and fail again and again…
  • Until we finally get what we want.

This strategy is lost as one gets older. In school, we study a subject, get tested, and are given a grade – pass or fail. Everyone exits school with a set of faulty beliefs based on how successful or unsuccessful they were.

Have you ever thought things like this?

  • “I’m not any good at math.”
  • “I’m not an athlete.”
  • “I have no natural talent in this.”
  • “I have no coordination.”
  • “I’m not a good public speaker.”
  • “Computers are too complicated for me.”
  • “I have dyslexia and can’t learn.”

You should know that these ideas and attitudes and thoughts are all wrong! They come from the pain of the failures we have had, but if we had continued on, we would have succeeded. In fact, the system we live in (school, life, etc.) teaches us to fail.

Pain & Pleasure

An understanding of the success model is important. Why do people quit?

When you fail, you experience pain. When this happens, your fight or flight mechanism kicks in, and your mind will search for a reason to quit. If there is no logical reason, the mind will invent one. These excuses will all sound very reasonable, but they are simply the mind lying to you so that you will stop trying to achieve your goals.

It is impossible to fail.

There are no failures – there are only quitters. If one looks at the model of success

[goal – attempt – failure – repeat attempts until successful], it is really impossible to fail at anything! So here is a question that you have probably never asked yourself:

What would you do if it were impossible to fail?

As you will soon discover, success depends upon how you use your mind.

Don’t believe me?

Creative Visualization

In 1980, there was a study conducted by Russian scientists with some of their Olympic athletes. They took these athletes and divided them into four groups:

  • Group 1 = 100% physical training;
  • Group 2 – 75% physical training with 25% mental training;
  • Group 3 – 50% physical training with 50% mental training;
  • Group 4 – 25% physical training with 75% mental training.

Guess who performed the best? Group 4! The ones that practiced the most mental training! The poorest performers were in group 1 – those with no mental training.

Keep in mind that the athletes did not simply think vaguely about being the best.

They concentrated on specific movements over and over again. They developed their capacity to imagine themselves doing what they needed to do in order to succeed. They used all of their senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, etc.). When possible, they watched videos of successful performers and imagined themselves in their place, doing the same thing. This type of mental training is well known among athletes today.

How to Use Negative Thoughts

Positive thinking alone, however, is not enough to succeed. Negative thinking is, in fact, essential to success. Think about it this way: You are going somewhere and you take out a map. You need to know two things: Your destination; and where you are now. Negative thoughts tell you where you are now. Use them to determine what you need to do in order to improve your results. Imagine hitting that golf ball and then not looking where it went. You would be lost without taking a measure of where you are. So use your negative thoughts to see where you are on the road to success.

Self Judgment Leads to Failure

Just remember: Withhold judgment. Do not judge yourself when you try something. Many that shoot pool or play chess will immediately make excuses: “I never play this game. I’m not very good at it.” But the successful players always refuse to judge themselves. Instead, they spend all of their time practicing and developing their skills.

When they do this, they disconnect the fight or flight mechanism that causes them to quit.

Persistence & Resolve

So positive thinking needs to be combined with negative thinking, an understanding of the success model, and the persistence that comes from the willpower or resolve to achieve your goals. But where does persistence come from? How do you create willpower?

Understanding how success works is the first step towards building your resolve. After all, everyone will fail again and again and again and again until they finally succeed. But if you knew that failure was impossible, you’d continue to try, wouldn’t you? Willpower is also connected to your ego – your sense of pride. But more importantly, your resolve is directly connected to faith. So where does faith come from and how do you create it?

Building Your Resolve

Faith is composed of three things:

  1. Desire.
  2. Belief.
  3. Expectancy.

When these three things are combined, they create the energy of faith which feeds one’s willpower to succeed.


As a writer, I was fortunate enough to meet one of my idols, Ray Bradbury. He told me an astonishing thing: He said that he was not born with a talent in writing. Instead, he was born with a desire to write. Ray Bradbury says that successful writers do not write – they burn. Successful people all have a burning desire to do what they do. I am a juggler (hey, everyone needs a hobby, right?). But I was not born with the talent and coordination needed to juggle. So why can I juggle while most people cannot? Because I found a burning desire to learn how to juggle. I remember thinking, “I’m going to learn to juggle or I’ll die trying!” Think of it like a rocket: To shoot for the stars, you need to burn! Many people like to think about why they want something. These reasons can be helpful, but the best way to increase one’s desire is simply to think about it as often as possible. When you think about it frequently, desire will increase.


One thing stopping most people is that they simply don’t believe that they can achieve their desires. They’ll often quote a list of their failures. What’s interesting is that most people will go out and ask unsuccessful people if something is possible. These failures will of course say that success is not possible, and will often have a list of excuses why (it’s a scam, you need money to make money, etc.). More people will go out and find an expert, who they will use to back up their excuses for not trying. But even the experts are wrong.

Consider this:

· Beethoven’s music teacher said that as a composer he was hopeless.

· Einstein was four years old before he could speak.

· Henry Ford went bankrupt before he began to make cars.

· Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school.

· Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

· Steven Spielberg dropped out of high school.

· Thomas Edison had a teacher that said he was too stupid to learn anything.

· Winston Churchill failed the 6th grade.

· Walt Disney was fired from an advertising agency because he couldn’t draw.

· The chairman of IBM said, “I think there is a world market for about 5 computers.”

While one group is doing it, the other group will be talking about why it can’t be done.

To increase your belief, think about it frequently.


Expectancy is the hope that you will achieve your desire. It comes from a strong desire, backed up by a strong belief, and from imagining yourself at having arrived at your goal. This is one of the most important steps. You must visualize yourself achieving your desires. Do this frequently – at least once a day.

Success depends on how you use your mind.

When you spend time concentrating on your desires, beliefs and expectations, you will create the energy to acquire what you want. So think about your goals frequently. Spend time every day imagining yourself as having arrived at your goals, as if you already have them.

A Simple Exercise

Here is a simple technique that you can use to achieve your desires:

  • Take all of your negative thoughts and emotions and feelings and judgments and let them live and breathe and thrive for a moment.
  • Then imagine a giant eraser wiping them out.
  • Then imagine your goal, as if you have already achieved it. Feel what it is like. See it, imagine it, and visualize it.
  • Repeat this last step every day until you achieve your goals.

Every day, take time to sit down and visualize your goals as if you already have them.

The Three Steps to Success

Now that you understand how the process works, here are the three steps to success, which are based on the ideas previously discussed. In a sense, these three steps are connected to the three factors of desire, belief and expectancy:

1. A Definite Chief Aim

The comment at the beginning of this article was made by Napoleon when he was confronted by his marshals (including Marshal Ney). They were trying to talk him into abdicating the throne of France (quitting). As you can imagine, it took quite a bit to get one of the world’s most successful people to abandon his goals. Always remember that goals have great power in them. No one has ever achieved anything of value without a goal. You cannot build a bridge, you cannot build a house, you cannot paint a painting, without an idea of what you want.

A friend of mine served in the Vietnam war. He related a fascinating story to me. He said that while other people were worrying about dying, he was spending his time drawing. During the war he finished a very detailed portrait of a woman out of his imagination. He said to himself, “This is the woman I’m going to marry.” A year later, he was sitting in a restaurant in Japan and the exact person in the portrait walked it! (I still get chills thinking about this).

People think that the more detailed their goals are, the less likely they are to occur. This is nonsense. The more detailed your goals, the more likely they are to happen. Your goals must be specific and definite.

A definite chief aim, backed up by burning desire, is the first step to success at anything. If you do not have a written list of your goals, you will fail.

2. Daily Visualization

The second step to getting what you want is to use the three components of desire, belief and expectancy to condition your mind for success.

Every day you need to spend some time visualizing your goals, as if you have already achieved them.

When you do this, an astounding thing will begin to happen: People will come out of nowhere, offering to help you. You may find that you will “just happen” to be in the right place at the right time. Situations and circumstances completely beyond your control will begin to help you. This happens because the universe is an abundant place, and it is set up to benefit those striving for a goal.

You will find that there really is no such thing as luck. What we call luck is simply the universe moving in the direction of those who know where they are going. Opportunities will appear to those ready to take advantage of them.

Remember that this is not a form of “positive thinking,” since you must also use your negative thoughts to determine where you are on your road to success. When these negative thoughts, emotions and events occur, simply take a moment to see them in your mind for a moment, and then mentally erase them. Then replace these negative things with an image of your desires. What you are doing is programming your subconscious mind to do what it takes to acquire your goals.

3. Take Action

The third step is often neglected, but you cannot succeed unless you take action. Imagine what would happen if you wrote down a grocery list, thought about what you wanted to get, and then didn’t actually go anywhere. Remember to take some kind of action towards reaching your goals.

Many people fail when they get to this step. This is because they still have fears, which are caused by the pains of their previous failures. Although the second step (imagining having arriving at your goals) will help, you have to realize that the fear is really just an illusion.

Imagine that you are making free throws in basketball. Let’s say that your goal is to make 10 baskets. What no one tells you, however, is that you can take as many shots as you want. After all, who cares if it takes you 10 shots, 20 shots, or even a hundred shots to make those 10 baskets? The only way you will fail is if you quit taking shots. Failure is impossible!

Your desires, beliefs and expectations will help to create the energy you will use to take action, but remember to get in the car and drive when you have somewhere to go. Get out your map (desire), pack your bags (belief, expectation) and then get in the car. If you get lost along the way, don’t worry. That’s what your map is for.

Scientists tell us that that energy and matter are interchangeable. Here is how the process works: First, you set a goal, based on your desires. Then you think about it, constantly visualizing it in your mind. Then you go out and make it happen by taking action.

The researcher Jose Silva (author of The Silva Method) has this to say about imagination:

“Visualization is the beginning of creation. Everything has to be done first in the world of the mind before it can be materialized. The past is composed of materialized thoughts. The present is a process of materializing thoughts. The future is composed of conceived thoughts not yet materialized. The physical world is a duplicate – a shadow of what takes place in the world of the mind. You must strengthen your faculty of visualization.”

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