The Power Of Self-Belief

It is one thing to have dreams and set goals towards achieving them. However, it is a completely different matter to be able to push through and actually achieve these dreams and goals. Whether it is a small short-term goal of finishing that yearly spring cleaning by the weekend or a long-term one of investing and saving money, the question that always arises is ‘How and where do I begin?’

The Magic of Thinking Big (1959) by David Schwartz is a guide to setting and achieving dreams and goals. The methodology focuses on believing in oneself as the pivotal key to success. The author’s experience and interactions with individuals and businesses that have seen both sides of the failure-success coin support his belief that anyone can achieve anything that they set out to do.

A Matter Of Belief

So how and where does one begin to start working towards goals?

The answer lies in having belief. Believing, and honing a mindset where one feels a hundred per cent capable of doing whatever they set their mind to do, is the best approach.

Believing truly in one’s own ability helps the mind to focus on finding the ways to accomplish those set goals. This is the minds creative power. The more one believes the more creative power is unleashed. Essentially, as long as the level of one’s belief matches the difficulty level of the task, even the most challenging goals can be met.

When one truly starts believing in oneself, others start believing in the ability of that person too. A study conducted by the McKinsey Foundation for Management and research conducted interviews with the government, science, religion, and business leaders. They were asked what type of people they preferred to work with. The answers were almost unanimous. Everyone wanted people who had a sheer desire to succeed, a trait that is contingent on self-belief.

Such individuals never give, irrespective of the hurdles they have to encounter, and are constantly motivated. Leaders associate such belief with success. True belief aids one’s mental power to shift to persevering towards the set goals. In turn, a support system of inspiration and confidence builds up, where other start believing too.

The Magic of Thinking Big (1959) by David Schwartz
The Magic of Thinking Big (1959) by David Schwartz

Sharpening Those Creative Thinking Skills

Thinking is of two types – fact memorization and creative thinking.

While fact memorization involves learning pieces of information, which are stored in the brain, and accessed later on, creative thinking involves a focus on finding innovative solutions. Essentially, it means finding new and improves methods of managing any kind of problems and challenges.

While fact memorization has its own merits, creative thinking enables efficient and quick thinking to overcome hurdles. Where fact memorization makes the brain rigid, creative thinking makes it flexible, adaptive, and agile.

Successful individuals always stress creative thinking, rather than memorization of facts. One can get into the habit of thinking creatively by

  • Being more receptive to new ideas
  • Grab as many opportunities one can to try new ideas
  • Spend ten minutes every morning reflecting on, ‘How can I be better today?’

In order to develop these as a habit, one has to diversify one’s lifestyle. For instance, one should surround themselves with people who support, yet challenge beliefs and ideas openly. Engage in communities and groups that are far removed from one’s line of work. For example, a budding chef can join a Math Club. The new and varied skills that the chef will learn could help in managing accounts for his upcoming restaurant.

Think Positive, Act Positively

Today, one is constantly exposed to negativity. From murders in the news to fat-shaming advertisements, and sometimes even close friends and relatives can turn on the negativity dial by putting down ideas and dreams. Over time, the constant exposure to negativity normalizes it. 

Negativity is a mental monster. The more one feeds it with negative thoughts, the stronger it becomes and encroaches on every bit of positivity one has. Negativity is one of the main reasons people end up average or unsuccessful. Negativity is an abnormality that sucks out one’s will to succeed.

In order to thwart negativity from one’s life, one has to practice positive thinking and positive actions on a daily basis. Positive thoughts and actions help eradicate negativity from festering in the mind.

To do this, one can write a ‘pep-talk’ or a ‘self-selling advertisement’ that showcases one’s best traits and shows oneself how they are better than everyone else. Repeating this advert to oneself loudly – in private – on a daily basis, and repeating it silently many times a day will help in enforcing positive thoughts and deflect negativity.

For instance, a teacher who knows that she can make her students laugh should repeat to herself, ‘I am the best at making my students laugh and learn’. This will help in boosting her confidence, distinguish her best trait, and encourage her to contribute her best.

Nurturing Relationships

We know the saying ‘what goes around comes around’. If one treats the people around in a bad manner, the people around will also react in the same way. However, if a person treats everyone around with importance and respect – irrespective of whether they treat the person in the same way – over time, those same people will start treating the person with importance and respect too.

The support of the people around is crucial for achieving success. No one can achieve success on one’s own. One needs the support of those around to reach the top. For example, a person that makes it to the position of a CEO reaches there due to the support of her team, her subordinates, and her peers as well.

Keeping this in mind, it is crucial to understand that nurturing relationships in life, with those who are close as well as those who are not. The Ex-American President, Lyndon Johnson had his own ten-point success formula. He would take efforts to memorize the names of everyone working in his office and even congratulate them personally when they achieved something.

Thus, whether a person is closely related to one’s success, or is just another acquaintance or encounter, every relationship should be nurtured and respected, as if success hinges on that one encounter or acquaintance.

Having A High-Quality Environment

The notion of ‘you are what you eat’ implies that a healthy body is directly proportional to maintaining a healthy diet. This same notion is true for one’s mentality. Essentially, how a person thinks is directly proportional to what that person sees and hears.

The associations one makes, the friends one keeps, the living space that surrounds, as well as what one chooses to read and watch, all are instrumental in influencing one’s thought process. For instance, surrounding oneself with people who love to gossip, will in turn make one more likely to be a gossipmonger. Essentially, one is affected by the company one keeps.

Therefore, success rides on one’s ability to maintain a high-quality environment. The people one associates with, the living space, workplace desk, and even how one spends leisure and social time should be of high quality, enabling one to grow as a person.

In order to do this, one should surround oneself with successful people, understand their motivations, and study how they think. Even when it comes to seeking advice, one should turn to those who are currently in positions where one wants to be in the future. Additionally, when it comes to friends, it is essential to surround oneself with those who not only have their own successful ambitions but also who can believe in yours.

Hence, when it comes to creating a high-quality environment, it is vital to create and maintain a high-quality support system, which will keep motivations high even when achieving goals seems virtually impossible.

Keep A Check On That Attitude

For a large part of man’s existence on earth, man did not have language. Communication included only body language, facial expressions and gestures, and languages and the written word developed much later on. So it is no surprise that it is easier to read ones body language, facial expressions and gestures more easily.

Evolutionarily, man is predisposed to understanding the attitudes of others far better and faster. Attitudes are essentially mirrors of the mind. If one has to achieve success, especially while interacting with the people around, it is necessary to have a positive attitude.

Keeping a positive attitude first entails doing things that one believes is morally correct and appropriate. When a person behaves or indulges in morally incorrect actions, such as lying to or stealing from others, can reflect the guilt of the action in the attitude of the person. This can erode one’s confidence.

On the other hand, good behaviour and morally correct actions can lead to confidence and comfort with one’s own decisions, which in turn reflects in one’s attitude.

Another way to instil confidence and have a good attitude is to keep up ones physical appearance. Looking good and dressing well, even on occasions that do not require one to dress up, can make one feel confident about themselves and in turn, makes others feel the same about the person.

Finally, what really works at maintaining a positive attitude is to believe in the fact that what one is doing in their life is worthwhile and important. This kind of attitude becomes an unending source of confidence.

Build Confidence

Fear is very real. And fearing anything in life is the biggest reason why many people cannot succeed despite trying hard. Whether it is a fear of facing uncertain situations or having a fear of other people, all fears have only one antidote – confidence.

The stronger one’s self-confidence is, the less likely it is for any kind of fear to have a debilitating effect. In fact, confidence works as an immune system against fear. Just like the body needs to keep its immune system healthy, the mind needs to nourish confidence to make it long-lasting and effective.

The first step to build and nourish one’s confidence is by acting confident even when one doesn’t feel confident. While it might be tough to maintain this, it can become a habit over time. By acting the way one wants to feel helps in managing emotions.

One can start with simple actions such as choosing to sit in the first row during presentations and classes, increasing one walking pace by 25%, or increasing eye contact with others during conversations. Such actions of increased interactions make people stand out from the crowd while strengthening one’s own self-awareness.

Moreover, it is important to remember, that no one was born with confidence. Confidence needs to be built, nourished, and practised daily.

What Are You Eager For?

As the saying goes, there are two types of people in the world. However, while the two types can be almost anything, the most common and identifiable types are failures and successes.

If one looks closely, the failures always have an excuse or look for excuses for their failures. On the other hand, it is visible that successful people have the ability to bounce back from their failures and get busy looking for other ways to succeed.

Everyone – all successful people and failures – encounters challenges, personal misfortunes, setbacks, discouragements, etc., but what truly separates people into these categories, is how they choose to handle these challenges.

Once, a young couple wanted to buy a house. However, they were unable to afford the down payments. They decided to approach their challenge in a creative manner. They approached the builder and asked him for a private loan to cover their initial down payment.

Next, the couple decides to cut back on $25 out of their monthly expenditure so that they could be able to afford the $100 monthly loan. Furthermore, the husband convinced his boss to allow him to work overtime, so that he could cover up the remaining $75.

Their creative thought process, ability to face challenges, not give up, and keep thinking for new ways to find a solution, in addition to a positive attitude worked in their favour. They honed these skills and were successful at their seemingly impossible endeavour.

Plan And Study

Realising what one wants to achieve in life is great. However, it is the easiest part of achieving a goal successfully. The tougher part is putting that realization into action, and furthermore, making a plan for that action.

 A plan for achieving a goal should ideally include the steps that need to be taken, how to take those steps, and a timeline for achieving those plans. One can turn to other successful people and study their attitudes and techniques. 

However, there can be a number of things that can way-lay even the most carefully drafted plan. In such cases, one can use these delays and setbacks to study them, understand what went wrong and why, and work towards improving on them, to avoid them in the future.

This is exactly the reason why doctors perform autopsies to understand what caused the person to die. They study and learn just so that they can avoid the same in the future.

More important is the fact that setbacks should never cause one to berate or discourage oneself. One should channel their energy into finding out what is wrong with their plan, and what can they do to succeed, despite failure.


Believing in oneself and one’s own abilities are the single most important tool to succeed in life. No one is born successful, or confident. Confidence is built, nurtured, and practised.

One needs to have the drive, the ability to push oneself in spite of the failures one encounter. They should have a clear plan in place, the willingness to analyse failures in their plan, and the positive attitude to start over again, and again, and again!