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A Simple Lesson on How to Succeed

A Simple Lesson on How to Succeed

Millions upon millions of words have been written on how to succeed. Here’s my take on a simple lesson that has served me well.


How many times have you heard or been told that all success takes is getting into action and being persistent?

We’ve all heard stories of successful people who had enough persistence to make their dreams a reality, how they would never give up, how they “burned all the bridges” and left themselves no way out but through, and so on.

That’s good and all and there’s truth in those statements, but let’s be honest…they’re pretty hollow. They’re about as nourishing as a photo of oxygen is to a drowning man.

See, the problem is, they touch on an important aspect of achieving success, but they don’t address the REAL core issue holding people back.

The real issue lies behind the simple fact that the vast majority of people have been told to take more action, be persistent, “get hungry,” etc., but many don’t see their dreams through and make them happen.


The Mystery Behind Fear of Failure, Uncertainty, and Procrastination

Many people feel kind of stuck in a rut in life and don’t know how to get out. They don’t know where to start. They’re deathly afraid of failure. They don’t know if they can do it. They don’t know what will work and what won’t. They don’t feel sufficiently motivated and they procrastinate.

These are the mental and emotional factors that are preventing them from getting anywhere, and simply chanting “take action and be persistent!” doesn’t help. It’s like when you tell someone how worried you are about something and their reply is, “I see. Don’t worry about that, okay?” Not very persuasive or soothing.

So, what holds these mental blocks in place and what can we do about it?

Well, let’s do an interesting little exercise. I want you to think of an area where you have an ambition but are experiencing any of the above mental barriers (lack of motivation, uncertainty, lack of creativity, procrastination, laziness, etc.).

Now, what if you had a crystal ball and you were able to discover with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY–and I mean 100% unshakable conviction–that you would achieve your ambitions if you just followed through with specific actions. Looking into the crystal ball, you could SEE yourself basking in the success and reaping the rewards.

Do you think you’d do it? Would you feel enough motivation to push through the “head trash” and make it happen?

I think most everyone would.

See, that’s interesting though. The only difference between that scenario and reality is in the fantasy, you truly believed the actions would give you your dreams. The actions are the actions–they didn’t change. Only your state of mind changed.

A Tale of Two People–Who Will Succeed?

Tell me who will succeed out of the two following people:

Person A has the blueprint of success and knows every action that needs to be taken, but he’s not sure if he has it in him to pull it off and he doesn’t really believe with CONVICTION that it will work. But he knows he has to take action and be persistent, so he goes through the actions without verve or vision.

Person B has the same blueprint and action list, but Person B has somehow completely convinced himself that he has the potential to achieve his dreams and that success is INEVITABLE if he follows the plan. He takes the actions with resolution, certainty, and energy because he KNOWS they’ll work in the end.

Person B, of course, has a much better chance of success. Once again, both people had the same blueprint and action lists; the only difference was their states of mind.

What was the main catalyst that caused the difference?


One person believed in himself and in the inevitability of success, and the other didn’t.

See, there’s an interesting “mechanism” at work when you’re trying to achieve something. It has four “quadrants” that all feed on and affect each other, and they are:


|Potential|    |Action|


|Result|         |Belief|


Person A above didn’t believe in his potential and didn’t really think the blueprint and actions would give him success, and therefore took small, robotic actions, got little results, which reinforced his beliefs that it won’t work anyway and he won’t achieve success. This lead to less action, which meant less results, and eventually, the initial impetus ground to a halt and the game is over.

Person B knew he had the potential, truly believed that the blueprint and actions would give him success, took massive, energetic action to get there, got big results, which then reinforced his beliefs. This cycle of course spurred him to take more action, get more results, and the momentum carried him to his dreams.

So let’s get to the point. How can you be Person B in any of your endeavors?

How to Light the Fires and Kick the Tires in Your Life

First, you should have a clearly visualized goal in mind. Really see yourself with the success you want, and make sure you feel it’s possible (don’t paint a picture that you feel isn’t realistically achievable). Write your goals down and be specific.

But that’s not enough to see you through to the end. It can get you started, but you need to see RESULTS to really reinforce your belief in yourself and your actions and feel the drive to go higher.

So your first goal when starting ANYTHING should be IMMEDIATE RESULTS of some kind.  PROGRESS is what will give you the momentum you need to push it all the way through.

Let’s say you’re starting a business project and your vision is to make a million dollars with it, and you’ve really created the fantasy and know it’s possible.

Your first goal should be very simple: make $100! That’s an immediate result that backs up your beliefs. If you can make $100 with it, then all you have to do is more of that, and you’ll be at $1,000. Do even more, and that’s $10,000. Then $50,000. And eventually a million.

As you do this, you’ll find it easier and easier to make the next jump because you’re figuring the formula out and you’re going to have a fire burning inside that will drive you to take more action and get even more results.

The key is the beginning, though. If you don’t push that pebble over the mountain ledge, it will never get the momentum to become a massive boulder of snow barreling its way through all obstacles.

It takes guts to take a firm stance and say that you believe in yourself and you believe in your plan and actions. It opens the door to possible failure, humiliation, and hardship. But it also opens the door to your dreams of happiness and success.

And what you should really be afraid of is not failure, humiliation, or hardship, but a life of quiet, mediocre desperation where you’re always wishing for more but are unable to reach it.

So have some guts, believe in yourself, take action that will give immediate results, let those results fuel your ambition and ride it all the way to the top.


What did you think of this lesson on how to succeed? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • J Tan

    Hey Mike this is absolutely brilliant. Your clarity in explaining how to get the process started is both inspiring and motivational. I know exactly what you mean when you state how important belief is. Personally I’m still lacking in self belief at times and even though I’ve had my successes in the past, I still put them down to other factors, rather than myself, and so don’t feel the “success” feeling that we’re really going after. This article pointed my own flaws out to me, and I’m definitely going to stop limiting myself and instead believe in myself to succeed!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man! I really appreciate it!

      Yeah self-belief is HUGE and you definitely need to allow yourself to take some credit for what goes right in your life! Sure, there are always other factors, but you ALWAYS play a huge role in what goes right in your life…

  • Mike

    I find that if I can prove that results will occur on my plan of action, or at least I’ll have the best shot at the results on a particular path, then its easier to do what’s neccessary day in and out to see things through. You can never remove risk completely, that’s called living, though there are ways to be smarter about what you are doing. When I found myself at 356 pounds and saw that by changing my exercise and eating habits that in the first month, I several inches and 20 pounds or so, nobody could tell me at that point that I was wasting my time. Today I’m 198 and 12.5% bf and still working on the physique I want ultimately. Though, I have confidence in the path and I am and am going to follow the program you have helped lay out for me to completion. Sometimes it takes trust in a friend or advisor to keep going, so I would add that into the mix as well. Don’t go it alone, bring things to light and go after them with a plan that has proven to give you the best possible results or opportunity to succeed. Thanks for the great articles Mike, I will share this.

    • Michael Matthews

      I totally agree Mike, thanks for sharing. And great job on your weight loss. Wow! That rocks.

      Keep up the good work and thanks for your support.

  • Ryan Parker

    Love it.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! 🙂

  • Sergio Rodriguez

    Excellent to the point article!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Sergio!

  • Edison

    Excellent post Michael, having trouble sustaining motivation because I was ‘setting the bars’ too high for my final, never realize that smaller goals/milestones are required to generate momentum towards your bigger goal, kudo to you!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I totally understand–I’ve made the same mistake before!

  • Marco

    Good article! I will try to keep the strategies in mind. Nevertheless, I think it is still not the complete “story”. Reaching small goals can be very hard, and the issues life throws back at you can overshadow the accomplishments.

    E.g., in spring this year I had too much belly fat in my own opinion, and a buddy already started teasing me about it. I started exercising and dieting, and in six months, I lost around six or seven kg of fat (while hardly gaining any muscle). I was quite pleased and proud. Since starting to bulk, I have gained a little fat back and also a little muscle. I am at around 18% bodyfat now, weighing 72 kg at 180 cm height. Recently, a girl at a party told me, everytime she sees me, she feels like feeding me with chocolate, because I appear underweight. It is hard for me not to delve into negative thoughts like “No matter how hard I try, my weight is never O. K.”, but stick to my diet, exercises and the belief that I have achieved something and can achieve much more, and just need time and persistency. It is writers like you and Stuart McRobert who help fostering this belief.

    Another area where I do not progress is deadlifts. I have read about the correct technique (including BLS and Starting Strength), watched videos, practiced in front of a mirror with little weight, and asked trainers for supervision. Nevertheless, when weights get only near challenging (like 40 kg), I suffer from lower back pain some time later. After about a week, the pain always disappears. About seven years ago (before staying off weights for some years), I could deadlift around 80 kg without back problems. So I think it must be possible, and there must still be a problem with my technique. (My theory is that I may hyperextend my back in fear of rounding it.)

    Life often reminds me of the Simpsons episode “Duffless” http://www.snpp.com/episodes/9F14.html where Lisa conduct an experiment with Bart: She displays some cupkaes to him, and every time he touches them, he gets an electrical shock. Nevertheless, he touches them over and over again. Only after a long time, he gets conditioned to fear cupcakes. Bart is displayed as stupid, because he is learning his lesson so slowly. I often wonder how to distinguish situations where it is time to give up from those when it is time to be persistent.
    You may say that the crucial difference is not making the same mistake over and over again, but analyzing your failures and adjusting your behavior. But sometimes you do not get any feedback. E.g., I am struggling in the love/dating/pickup area. Analysis is especially hard here, because you cannot approach the same woman multiple times with different strategies (like in the movie “Groundhog Day”), and you can rarely get feedback of what went wrong. The little progress I am experiencing hardly makes up for the constant bashing of my self-esteem, and it is hard not to give up.

    Regarding your business example, you may have to invest, and accumulate more and more debt before you can finally make $100.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Marco!

      I agree that accomplishing ANYTHING can be tough, but I also believe that with enough grit, anyone can make small steps toward their goals.

      Don’t worry about what other people think about your weight and look. In many cases such people making comments like that have their own agendas. They’re not trying to help. Do what makes you happy.

      Deadlifts can be tough. One way to help break through the plateau is reduce the weight and really get strict on form.

      Haha funny Simpsons analogy.

      Any business that requires a lot of debt before it can make $100 in income isn’t a good business to get into…

  • Trent

    Thank you for the article, it made me think about myself and the fact that I’m lacking in motivation and self belief. I’m trying to get myself fit, healthy and into the gym but I always seem to delay the first step and never get there. I’ve bought your books and I believe I can accomplish my dream of becoming fit and healthy by the information provided, but there is just something weighing me down. To be honest I’m a bit afraid of joining a gym, I have long work hours (sometimes all hours of the day) and by the end of a work day I just feel too tired and lazy. I know this is setting me back, I’m a young guy and I want to make the most of my life by starting to gain muscle and becoming fit. Many people tell me I’m antisocial, quiet and very reserved but I want to change that. I guess I just need to build my self esteem and motivation to get out there, believe in myself more because you only get one life and I need to start living it right now. After all anything is possible if you just believe.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Trent! I’m really glad you liked the article.

      I totally agree that the key is you get going and just make small gains your first goal. Whether it’s losing or gaining some weight or building some strength, start small and make it happen. Then shoot for something larger and make that happen. This way you improve your confidence and certainty little by little, until you feel you can take on much larger goals than when you started, you know?

  • A.

    Hey Mike, thks for the article. You really go beyond fitness.
    I have been printing and reading again and again.
    Do you recommend some book, website, any source to help us improve?
    Sorry the bad english and thks once again.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! I’m really glad you like my other writings as well.

      What type of resources are you looking for exactly?

  • abu

    Mike, how about the fact that believing in yourself, without any solid argument to back you up, may make you live in a different reality? I believe that overconfidence is a sure way to disaster. Shouldn’t one first become competent, prove himself that he is worthy and then start believing in his powers?

    • Michael Matthews

      Believing in yourself is a far cry from being overweening. Remember that becoming competent requires at least the belief that you CAN…

  • DK

    Great article Mike, you should have been a motivational speaker!!!
    Being a small guy, I have always just accepted that I could never have a muscular physique. I’m pretty focused though and reading your posts give even greater motivation. My goal is to hopefully one day send pics to include on the MFL transformations section. Keep up the good work.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks! Definitely keep me posted on how things go for you!

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