Your Answer to This One Question Will Determine Your Success or Failure

Success or FailureYou may think the title of my article is preposterous. Your personal and professional success … and your personal and professional failure …all come down to your answer to one question.

I can just hear some of my more cynical readers saying, “Oh yeah, sure.

Well, I’m not pulling your leg.  And I’m not exaggerating.  There is only one critical question that will determine how far you go in life or your career or your relationships.

So what’s the question?  I’m getting to it.  But first, I must put it in context.  You need to understand, that whatever your situation…


1.  The problem is not the problem.

In other words, life isn’t fair. You know that. Some people have more than their share of difficulties and some people get more breaks than they deserve.

What fascinates me is how people respond to their difficulties. Some people use their difficulties as an excuse for their lack of achievement, while others use their difficulties as the motivation for their success.

You might remember a story I shared recently about a set of identical twins that were raised by an almost constantly drunk alcoholic father. At age fourteen the twins were sent to separate foster homes, not to be reunited for some thirty years.

When they were brought together at age 44, they were interviewed on a TV talk show. One of the twins had become an alcoholic like his father, while the other one had become a teetotaler. When the TV host asked them why they turned out the way they did, they both gave the same answer. Each of them said, “What do you expect? How could I turn out any differently considering the father I had?

Simply put, it wasn’t their problem (being raised by an alcoholic father) that was the problem.  It was their response to the problem that made them a winner or a loser.  It was their answer to the one critical question that made all the difference in their worlds.

So what’s the question?


2.  Do you get back up when you get knocked down?

It’s certainly true that outside circumstances such as the economy, the government, your health, company, boss, coworkers, spouse, partner, in-laws, and a host of other things may have knocked you down.  That’s their problem.  They may answer to God for those things.

But, whether or not you get back up, or at least try to get back up, that’s your choice. And your choice will make all the difference in your world.

Because your choice is basically the attitude with which you approach your life, career, relationships, and everything else. As I make abundantly clear in my new book, The Payoff Principle, your attitude determines your altitude. Good attitudes tend to bring good results and bad attitudes tend to bring bad results. In fact, your choice of attitude will defeat you faster than any of the factors that knocked you down in the first place.

So how do you develop a good attitude, an attitude that will help you get back up when you get knocked down? You need to do three things for starters.  And when you go through the workbook that accompanies The Payoff Principle, we’ll dig in even deeper for bigger and better results.  (To get your copy of the workbook, click here.)


3.  Refuse to blame anyone or anything for your problems.

Granted, that may not be easy and it may not come naturally. After all, your spouse, your friends, your boss, or even your parents might actually deserve some of the blame for the situation you’re in. But it’s important not to find yourself in the mindset of pushing blame onto anything or anyone else.

The problem with that “blame mentality” is that blaming just plain doesn’t work. It doesn’t change anything and it doesn’t make anything better. All blame can do is keep you stuck exactly where you are or worse, make you spiteful – neither of which will turn you into a winner. In fact, blame can have just the opposite effect. As John Burroughs once said, “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.

So the first step in positive attitude development is refusing to blame. Even though your blame may be justified, don’t do it.


4.  Choose to believe in yourself.

That’s right, choose!  Even though you may have some doubts, even though the balance sheet of your life may show more liabilities than assets, you’ve got to believe in yourself.

That’s what Sugar Ray Robinson, the boxing champ, did when he got knocked down.  He said, “To be a champ, you have to believe in yourself when nobody else will.

And that’s what Dolly Parton did when she got knocked down.  She said, “I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know that I’m not dumb … and I also know that I’m not blonde.

And it doesn’t matter how you come to that conclusion. You may take a spiritual approach and decide that God doesn’t make junk. Just the fact that He made you is enough to decide you’re worthwhile. Or maybe you take a cold, analytical approach and decide you can believe in yourself simply because you’re a survivor. You’ve survived tough times in the past and that alone is enough to decide to believe in yourself.

If that sounds easier said than done, all you have to do is start affirming it. Tell yourself twenty times a day, a hundred times a day, “I like myself. I like myself. I like myself.” Eventually your subconscious mind will start to accept your affirmation and you will be able to believe in yourself.


5.  Do something to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

That might sound strange, but that’s the way it works. If you do some things to help others, you can’t help but strengthen your own positive attitude. You’re starting a blessed circle. Your good actions reinforce your good attitudes — which in turn generate more good actions, and the circle continues.

That was the case with one young man who appeared in the early television Fruit-Of-The-Loom commercials. Even though he was a successful actor, he didn’t feel good about himself. He had been knocked down by his own weight problem.

One day he found a note on his car that inspired him to do something about his problem. The note said, “Fat people die young. Please don’t die.

The young man went on a crash diet and lost 110 pounds in three months. Unfortunately, his dramatic weight loss so damaged his body he had to be hospitalized.

After this devastating experience, he decided to start all over and learn how to lose weight safely through sound nutrition and proper exercise. Once he learned that, he was determined to find some way to share his knowledge with others who were troubled with obesity.

He was so enthusiastic about his new-found knowledge and he was so excited about helping others that people were immediately attracted to him. He made weight-loss education his business and enthusiasm his partner.

Richard Simmons went on to become a recognized authority around the world for his weight-loss crusade. But he couldn’t have done it without first deciding to do something that would make a positive difference in the lives of others.

You may invest in the stock market, or you may believe real estate is the way to a better financial future. But this week, when you get knocked down, decide to get back up.  Get back up by choosing to believe in yourself and by helping others.  It will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.


Final Thought:  It may not have been your choice to get knocked down, but it is your choice whether or not you try to get back up.