suc·cess: (n.) The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted

The Ultimate Formula for Success

Why is true success so rare?

Why does research show that over 80% of people break their New Year's resolutions? Why do most attempts to lose weight, quit smoking and start businesses fail?

Of course, there are many possible answers. Some people look for the easy way out, and just don't want to make the effort. Others use ineffective or simplistic strategies for change, such as affirmations, rather than the more effective science-based techniques that we discuss in our newsletter and web site.

But the biggest barrier to success is this: True success requires strong performance in five key areas of life, but unfortunately, four-out-of-five isn't good enough. These five elements are:

  • Vision: Have a clear sense of what you want from life

  • Strategy: Goals and plans for moving toward your Vision

  • Belief: Confidence that you can make changes and succeed

  • Persistence: Working hard, and rebounding after setbacks

  • Learning: Identifying when course corrections are needed

True success is rare because of how these elements work together. The ultimate formula for success is *not* these five elements added together. Instead, the formula is these five *multiplied* together.

The difference is subtle but crucial. When numbers are multiplied, if any of them are zero, then whole equation becomes zero. Four-out-of-five just isn't good enough.

Think about the intelligent, well-intentioned people you know who have under-achieved in life. Think about the times you have under-achieved in your own life. Quite often, problem is falling short on a single step. Think of?

  • The otherwise intelligent person who lacks Vision and drifts in life.

  • The dreamer with an inspiring Vision but no Strategy for making it happen.

  • The individual who knows what he wants but lacks the confidence to even attempt it, or begins pursuing it only to give up because he lacks Persistence.

Remember the Greek myth of Sisyphus. He spent eternity pushing a rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down over him as neared his goal. He had a clear Vision (get the rock up the hill), a Strategy (push it), Belief (he was strong and confident), and Persistence (he tried forever!). But he didn't Learn that his strategy wasn't working. He didn't Learn that a course correction was needed. Four-out-of-five wasn't good enough.

Success is like a group of mountain climbers who are roped together. They move at the pace of the slowest member. Similarly, you will perform down to the level of your weakest step.

It's not all bad news. Because the ultimate formula for success involves these steps being multiplied together, it also means that this formula is "non-linear." In other words, a *small* improvement in your performance on one of these five steps can lead to *big* improvement in the quality of your life.

Ask yourself: In of what area of life is your performance the weakest? How could you improve? Commit yourself to making small improvements on your weaknesses, and you'll witness big impacts in your overall success.

About The Author

COPYRIGHT: © 2004 Dr. Stephen Kraus. All rights reserved

Success Scientist Dr. Stephen Kraus is author of Psychological Foundations of Success: A Harvard- Trained Scientist Separates the Science of Success from Self-Help Snake Oil. He was featured in Conversations on Success, along with Brian Tracy and Wally "Famous" Amos. Steve has a Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University.

To contact Steve or subscribe to his REAL Science of Success ezine, please visit;

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