How to succeed when the odds are against you – part 1


Many people have their own definition of success and my belief is that success is measured in two ways.

  1. The progressive realisation of a designated goal

  1. The achievement of any goal must be weighed against the level of effort required to achieve it.


The entrepreneur Ray Kroc stated that, ’It is not an achievement to walk a tightrope if it is laid across the floor.’

Kroc’s statement reveals a profound insight that many are oblivious to until they are faced with a sizeable challenge.


I’ll split this piece about achieving success into two sections.

  1. The things within the control of a person

  1. The things outside the control of a person


The things within the control of a person

I’ll begin with a brief outline of the areas that I will cover as the ability to achieve success will come from a combination of a combination of these areas.

Internal world (psychology)

  • Beliefs
  • Values
  • Rules
  • Imagination
  • Internal dialogue
  • Perception



Our beliefs literally shape our reality regardless of what is happening in the outside world. This means that there are times when the odds can be stacked against a person simply by the way that they perceive events through their own mind.

A belief can be simply defined as a feeling of certainty that something is true or real. Therefore a belief can either help or harm a person depending on what they believe about a situation.

A way to test the quality of the beliefs that you hold about a particular subject is to measure your current results.

If you are not sure about your beliefs then your current situation will reveal everything that you need to know about your beliefs.

For example, if you believe that people are out to hurt you, then you are ‘right’ whether it is a true fact or not. You will find the evidence to support that belief at all costs, and even construct things to adhere to that belief.

This type of thinking has both positive and negative aspects to it, as you can trick yourself into achieving extraordinary things on the positive side and conversely you can literally shut yourself down at will based on your beliefs.

The most fascinating thing is that this reality is all inside your head.

How to overcome limiting beliefs

  • It is important to at least be able to examine your beliefs on a superficial level because it is impossible to manage something that you cannot understand or measure.
  • Make a list of the beliefs that are holding you back. This is crucial because you cannot solve problems unless you can identify those problems.
  • Look at your beliefs and assess how they make you feel. Often you will get a deep emotional feeling as you examine each belief.
  • It is important to eliminate those negative beliefs from your conscious and unconscious thoughts because they are hindering your progress.
  • At this point the old beliefs should be replaced with new ones as the mind will only focus on one type of thought at a time.
  • It typically takes around 30 days of consistent actions to create a new habit, hence it is important to go over your new beliefs at least twice a day until they become engrained into your thoughts and actions.
  • If the limiting beliefs continue then you need to go back to the beginning of this section and recycle until the process you are free from those negative beliefs. It is also important to say that you will always experience feelings of negativity as you grow, develop, prosper and evolve, and it will be a case of continually working towards another higher level of success.



Values are emotional states that are desired beyond material ends. For example, money cannot be a value, but the freedom that an abundance of money provides can be a value.

Values control our lives and these are hidden forces behind what we do in all aspects of life. Most people are unaware of their values although they control all of our actions.

Values always reveal themselves in what we think is most important.

There are also a multitude of options and variations in relation to values. Each person’s values are different and there are no values which are better or worse than anyone else’s. One person may value adventure and another may value security.


How to determine your values

  • The quickest way to understand your values is to look at your own life.
  • The best way to understand your values is to first look at your results. Do you value security more or freedom more? Do you value financial success or security? Do you value working hard or playing hard? Do you value honesty at all costs or winning at all costs?
  • The next thing is to prioritise your own values in order of importance from the highest to the lowest. A person typically has around 6 or less high level values.
  • Ordering your values will help you to understand why you feel the way that you feel.
  • It is also possible to change your own values, but first you must know what your values are.

In relation to being able to succeed it is often the case that you are in conflict with your values or a particular situation is influencing you to go against your values.

An example of this would be if your highest value is freedom, and you are forced to stay inside then you will not feel good regardless of what other things are going on in your life. It is very important to understand this. This is one of the most important things that you will ever learn in your life, and will give you the ability to take control of your life in virtually any situation.



Rules are simply conditional beliefs, and what is interesting about rules is that it is possible to have different people who share exactly the same values, but if their rules differ then they can be completely different in their beliefs and results.

I’ll give a quick example below.

If you had two people whose highest values was the value of success, this would be how their rules affect their outcomes.

Person A values success, and his rules are if I am to be a success then I must work 16 hours a day and earn X amount of income.

Person B values success and his rules are if I am to be a success then I must not work more than outside of my house more than 8 hours a day and I must be at home to eat dinner with my family every day.

We can see that those rules reveal two very different types of people even though they share exactly the same values of success.

For person A success is linked to working long hours, and for person B success is linked to spending time with family.

This is an important thing to remember is relation to success because the rules that we make are vitally important to our outcomes, and it is essential to understand that those decisions are ours to make and no one else’s regardless of the external situation.


How to determine your rules

  • If you have your values arranged in a hierarchy then it would be useful to understand your rules so that you will know when your values have been accomplished.
  • The question to ask in evaluating your rules is to ask, ‘how will I know if I have achieved this goal?’ Whatever those conditions are would be your rules.
  • Rules do not need to make sense for anyone else apart from you because they signify the conditions of your success.



Albert Einstein once stated, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

Einstein is reported to have engaged in a number of significant thought experiments and his theory of relativity is likely to have come from his fantastic insights of being able to travel at the speed of light and observe what would happen.

The ability to imagine or create a new reality for yourself regardless of the current circumstances of your situation will be one of the most essential factors of success that an individual could ever undertake.

The particular disposition of an individual is vital to their results in life. If a person conceives the future in a pessimistic way then they are likely to be drawn towards pessimistic results. The same results would occur if a person imagines a positive future.

This conduct is also be part of a principle called ‘attraction’ and one of the most powerful things that a person can do to change their thoughts and images that they see in their mind.

A great number of the most influential people of history have used the power of imagination to change their results.

The natural philosopher Sir Isaac Newton was said to have observed an apple falling in a garden and then imagined how forces could have aided that process and this would lead to his work on the theory of gravitation.

The co-founder of the Apple Computer Company Steve Jobs was known for his ability to bring his thoughts into reality. Jobs studied calligraphy at Reed College for a while, then he dropped out to take a trip to India where he discovered people who used their minds to take themselves to another level of consciousness. He converted to converted to Zen Buddhism and although he lost his ‘Zen cool’ on a number of occasions Jobs did manage to use his imagination to conceive of how he could along with his friend Steve Wozniak bring a truly innovative personal computer to the mass market of consumers. Jobs continued to use his imagination to great effect whether it was for Apple, NeXT, Pixar or any other venture that he was involved with.

The Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan often would use the power of his imagination to construct his mathematical equations.

“While asleep, I had an unusual experience. There was a red screen formed by flowing blood, as it were. I was observing it. Suddenly a hand began to write on the screen. I became all attention. That hand wrote a number of elliptic integrals. They stuck to my mind. As soon as I woke up, I committed them to writing.” 

– Srinivasa Ramanujan


The inventor of the periodic table Dimitri Mendeleev is said to have come up with the amendments to the table after imagining it in a dream.

“I saw in a dream a table where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper.” 

– Dmitri Mendeleev


The electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla would often have visions of inspiration that aided his creativity.

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” 

– Nikola Tesla


The cricketer Sir Donald Bradman holds the record for the highest batting average of 99.94 each time he went to bat. Even though he stopped playing cricket in 1948 the second highest of all everyone else who has ever played the game has only come to an average of just over 60. If a batsman has an average of over 40 he is considered to be very good. Bradman’s achievements in this area remain so far above the rest of the field that many cannot understand how he did it.

A large part of Bradman’s success was due to his mental preparation. He used to practice with tiny golf balls on uneven surfaces to make things more difficult than it would be when he was facing real opposition. He would also visualise exactly where he would hit the ball before it came to him.

“Every ball went exactly where I wanted it to go until the ball that got me out.”

– Donald Bradman

“Many cricketers who had more ability than I had, Why they didn’t make more runs than I did, I don’t know”

– Donald Bradman


Muhammad Ali was arguably the most well known sportsman of the 20th century and his nickname “The Greatest” says it all. He achieved greatness but also did it with style and a level of showmanship that was an art form in itself. He understood the power of psychology and imagination going into each one of his fights.

“I’m not the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round.”

– Muhammad Ali


According to the writings of the Greek philosopher Plato, his teacher Socrates would occasionally spend moments where he would stop everything and just ‘think.’ He would not move at all until he had achieved his objective. Socrates was also guided by what he called a daemon, which was an invisible force only known and understood by the mind of Socrates, this force would guide the conduct of Socrates to do or not do certain things.

“An unexamined life is not worth living.”

– Socrates


The French philosopher Rene Descartes understood the power of imagination and would take time out to think by himself while he would attempt to work out problems. He is also reported to have spent time in a stove, type of like a compressed sauna where he would literally go into trances of thought patterns. In 1641 he would call one of his most influential works the ‘Meditations on First Philosophy,’

“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.”

– Rene Descartes


The Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt is the greatest sprinter that has ever lived in recorded history. He currently holds the records for the 100 and 200 metre sprint events and has won the gold medal in every single olympic event that he has entered in and has a total of 9 gold medals. Bolt has too many more gold medals in competitions around the world to list here, and he fully understood the power of both his mental ability to compete as well as his physical abilities.

“I don’t think limits.”

– Usain Bolt

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in determination.”

– Usain Bolt


How to liberate your own imagination

  • You are already using your imagination. The first question to ask would be are using your imagination to help your progress or is your imagination holding you back?
  • If your thinking is positive then keep doing that and work towards manifesting those scenarios into your reality.
  • If your images are negative then you will have to actively work to change, refocus or manipulate those images into positive ones.
  • When people experience failure it often occurs before the physical event and it typically takes the form of still images or moving images that happen within the mind, sometimes these images have sounds attached to them and they create strong emotions within a persons body.
  • I have included a number of ways below that if used properly will be able to eliminate or drastically diminish feelings of failure and negativity. It is also important to understand that negative feelings can also have a positive intention in relation to providing warnings to be fearful of and prepared for.


Changing focus

If you are continually imagining negative scenarios then it is essential to change your focus of attention otherwise the images of negative scenarios will manifest themselves in a number or ways.

To change your focus you must deliberately and actively work on finding other areas to focus on. The best way to do is is to have a purpose for your life that goes beyond frivolous activities that consume unsuccessful people.

The process of changing focus can also be known as the principle of substitution, this is simply when a person can change a negative image or scenario for a positive image or scenario. Since the mind typically can only focus on one thing at a time a person will move towards whatever image they are focusing on most of the time.

If you do not have a purpose then that will be something to work on right away from this moment.


“Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.”

W. Clement Stone


Erasing negative images 

Another way of overcoming negative images is to disrupt, scramble and erase those negative images.

Firstly it is important to pay attention to how you see those negative images.

  • Are they large or small?
  • Are they in colour or black and white?
  • Is there sound included with the images?
  • What other distinguishing features occur with those images?
  • Are they in a frame or are you absorbed within the experience?

After you have understood those things then it is your time to completely disrupt those images until they no longer have the same emotionally intensity.

If you see it on a screen, then you can even turn down the contrast to make the image appear completely invisible. You can change the screen, you can reverse the image, you can step outside of the scene, you can do everything that you want to.

If the sounds are loud, then you can reduce the volume all around you.

You can even add in new elements later on, but for now to get rid of the negative images will be enough.



This method is very powerful and it involves paying attention to how the negative images are manifesting themselves around you.

The way to use disassociation is to use ways to either distance yourself from those images or distance the images from you.

One way would be to mentally move the images away from you so that it is so small and insignificant that it no longer effects you in the same way.

An important thing to remember is that all of these negative images appear in your mind so you can construct any way to get rid of them that you want to. You literally are in control of each mental scenario if you want to be.

It does take practice and focus just like with any other skill, and yet if you will put in the work to decide what you want your reality to be then you will do it.


Manipulating images

Another way to deal with negative images is to manipulate the image, in psychology this can also be known as ‘reframing’ the negative image and transform it into something that is positive and able to empower you to move forwards.

This is an advanced method that requires a significant amount of creativity to make it work properly, and once you master this ability then a whole new world will open up to you.

An essential way to use manipulation to your advantage is to always have a purpose for your life and an ideal direction to move towards.


Internal dialogue

There are two types of internal dialogue, positive and negative.

People that experience failure often have negative voices in their head that either comes in the form of their own voice or the voice of someone else who continually puts them down.

It is important to catch yourself when you heard those voices say negative things such as:

‘I can’t do it.’

‘I know that it will never work.’

‘I won’t even try because it’s too difficult.’

When you hear that type of negative dialogue it is important to transform those phrases to positive ones. I know this sounds simplistic, and at the same time it is amazing how few people really take time out to control their thoughts.

The essential thing to do here is to turn negative phrases into positive phrases and turn the focus towards goals and intentions of success.

It is not enough to robotically repeat positive phrases without any real emotional intensity, there must be an intention behind it that will compel you towards achieving a goal or purpose.

The speaker Jim Rohn used to say that “affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.”


How to take control of your internal dialogue 

  • Make an assessment of the negative voices that occur in your mind, is it your voice or someone else’s voice?
  • Whatever the voice make a note and then work to transform those messages. You will never get rid of the voice, but you can make the voice an advocate for your success and not failure.
  • Write down positive phrases to use in place of the negative phrases and it is vital to get those positive phrases deep into your unconscious mind so that you can maximise your potential every day.
  • If you can do the for 30 days that should cultivate the new success habit.

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

– Steve Jobs



Your perception creates your reality and the experiences of failure or success often occurs way before any external event is stacked against you.

Here I have only touched on major psychological factors. In the next part I will look at the physical factors that you can control. It is also clear to see that if your mindset is not right then you will have lost before you meet any external obstacle or challenge comes up.

If you are feeling fearful about things that are happening in your life now then go back to the beginning and re-read through, then work through the exercises, make notes, self reflect, take action and keep going until you are in a confident state of knowing that whatever comes your way you can psychologically handle it. Many people go through years of therapy and heartache to learn what you have in front of your eyes so make the most of it right now.

To read the next part of this series CLICK HERE


Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrDigg thisPin on PinterestBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current ye@r *