Why do some people succeed? Is it because they’re smart? Or lucky? Neither.
True success comes down to your mindset. In order to succeed, you can’t just want to change; you have to believe that you can. And once you do, you can literally change your brain for the better and feel more motivated, engaged, and energized—unleashing your potential.
Success is not about what your parents want for you, how much money you have in the bank, or how you compare to your neighbors. True success is defining what you want and then going after that goal. It’s your vision, defined on your own terms.
Here are the three key habits of highly successful people who harness the power of their beliefs to cultivate a mindset of success:
1. Choose Courage Over Comfort
The road to success can be uphill—and that climb takes courage. Noted author and speaker Brene Brown, Ph.D. defines courage as leading with your heart (literally—the English word for courage is derived from the Latin word for heart). It means wrestling with failure and putting yourself out there even when the outcomes are uncertain. It’s not about being a superhero who doesn’t show fear; it’s about embracing transparency and vulnerability. This vulnerability, Brown says, is the birthplace of not only courage, but also trust, innovation, creativity, and adaptability—which are all foundational to success.
Brown advocates for choosing “courage over comfort” to enact the real, gritty process of progressing towards your goals. This discomfort involves defining your own version of success—one that extends beyond the safe scope of what you’re “supposed” to do.
How to Do It: Challenge yourself to take risks. Share a candid idea in a meeting, reach out to a colleague you don’t know that well, or ask for feedback so that you can grow and improve. On your own, schedule a brainstorming session where you ask yourself honest, scary questions. What is it that you truly want? What would you do if you had no limits? Make a list of the possibilities—anything and everything that excites and motivates you.
2. Get Your Head in the Game
You have the power to define not only your success, but your failures—rather than letting them define you. Success is about potential, and it requires a willingness to step outside your comfort zone and make mistakes. As Brown says, “Failure can be our most powerful path to learning.” If you approach undesired outcomes with a growth mindset (where you believe you can adapt and change to reach your goals), you can learn from mistakes and transform setbacks into opportunities. This is what successful people do.
How to Do It: When you’re feeling defeated, you’re likely stuck in a fixed mindset, meaning you don’t believe you have the power to grow or develop your abilities. Maybe you feel like you let someone else down by not doing your best or you’re holding yourself to an impossible standard of perfection. Put your inner critic at ease by reframing setbacks as springboards for growth. Use self-talk that praises progress over perfection, such as, “I deserve my own respect for trying my best,” or “I’m not a lost cause. I just need practice!” This takes shame and guilt out of the equation so you can focus on what’s ahead, rather than what’s in the rearview mirror.
3. Make (Bigger) Connections
It’s a common misconception that success is a solitary pursuit: If we work hard, we’ll achieve success, and that will make us happy. But internationally acclaimed psychologist Shawn Achor advocates for flipping that script, because when we work alone, we limit our potential. Studies show that one of the greatest predictors of happiness is social connection.
When we view happiness and success as a zero-sum game, we are coming from what Achor calls a “small potential” mentality, where success is a limited resource. To reach your “big potential”, he says that you must “transform the pursuit of happiness and success from a solitary one to an interconnected one.” Your successes multiply when you surround yourself with positive people and work to build others up, too. In fact, studies show that people who provide social support in their workplace are 10 times more likely to be engaged at work and 40 percent more likely to get a promotion than those who kept to themselves.
How to Do It: Ask yourself: What small ways can you infuse positivity into your networks? It can be something as small as a sharing a compliment, celebrating a team win, saying thank you, or even just saying good morning. These grains of positivity have a domino effect, boosting both you and others up to be the best you can be.
Success isn’t just for the lucky few. It’s for everyone. When you open yourself up to experiences, people, and your genuine ambitions, you can harness your own power to manifest success—and the more open you are, the more meaningful that success will be.
Elior Moskowitz is the Content Coordinator at meQuilibrium. A frequent Cup of Calm contributor, she also writes for various major business journals and lifestyle publications. Elior holds a B.A. in Psychology and English, with special training in both positive psychology and mental health counseling.