The Keys to Success in Life and Business

As a leadership and business consultant, my passion is to help business leaders define their goals, lay out the steps to reach them and then help them achieve those goals. Over the years, I’ve developed an approach that builds on four pillars to achieve success. 

Consider your goals – no matter how big or how small – as similar to erecting a building. All buildings need a solid plan that includes an idea/dream, a foundation, the steps needed to complete it and the belief that it can be done. In the realm of achieving success in life these four key pillars are Faith, Purpose, Discipline and Mindset. 


The first pillar in your project plan for success is Faith. In this context, faith means trusting in yourself and your abilities. By having faith in yourself and being willing to work toward something greater, you open your mind and heart to achieving that something greater and thereby increase your chances of success.

When you have faith in yourself, you face challenges with strength and courage.  When you lack faith in yourself, you’ll tend to give up when the going gets tough, your self-confidence falters and it can become a vicious downward spiral. If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of failure or lacking confidence, pay attention to how you talk to yourself.

If your inner dialogue is telling you that it’s just too much, you’re crazy to think you could do this, then you’re more likely to fail. When you’re doubting yourself or feeling overwhelmed and your inner dialogue is negative and defeatist, turn the dialogue around.  Instead of “Why would I ever think I could do this?,” tell yourself, “This is going to be hard but I have the brains and the training to handle this. Let’s go!” Say it out loud.  It might feel weird at first, but you’ll start retraining your subconscious to be more positive and you’ll bolster your faith in yourself. 


The second component of your project plan for success is Purpose. This is your goal’s foundation. As with a building, you need a solid foundation to set yourself up for success.  Spend some time thinking about what you want – a promotion at work, a peaceful backyard garden, to learn how to play pickleball. Then, think of two or three reasons you want to achieve this goal. Be sure that one of these “whys” includes a reason that involves others, a reason outside yourself. That helps create accountability because it’s harder to give up on a goal when others are counting on you.

Remember, even a simple or small goal should be defined with a purpose.  A simple goal of reading a book a week would be underpinned by the why of improving your vocabulary, expanding your knowledge and relaxing after work so you can be more present for your family. A more complex goal could be to get a promotion at work. The purpose driving this might be to increase your salary so you can enroll your children in a better school, save more for retirement and reward yourself for your hard work over the years. In both the simple and complex goals, your purpose helps you focus on and actually achieve a meaningful outcome for yourself and others.


A very important key to success is Discipline.  In this context, discipline is training yourself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.  You can set a goal of exercising four days a week, and then after a couple weeks, you start wanting to sleep in, go shopping, meet your friends for a leisurely lunch and suddenly four days becomes three, becomes two and then you beat yourself up for losing your motivation. This is where discipline comes in. Discipline is not motivation. Discipline is making sure you get yourself out of bed in the morning, get dressed and show up at the gym for your workout even if Mr. Motivation is still in bed sleeping. If you falter, that doesn’t mean you failed. It just means you have another chance to start over again tomorrow.

The simplest way to build discipline and create habits is to break your goal into micro-tasks. For example, your long-term goal is to go to the gym four days a week. Start with one day and check the box. Then, the next day is your next opportunity to move toward the four-day a week goal.  You go…you check the box.  You’d be amazed at how rewarding checking the box on your to-do list is in helping to develop discipline and strengthen motivation.

My book contains a detailed explanation of how to build discipline. In a nutshell:

  1. Think of a daily task that will move you forward towards your goal
  2. Set a small time commitment for the task – 5 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.
  3. Use a checklist and mark it complete each and every day

The beauty of this system is that there’s no stress involved. You complete the simple task and you get the happy brain chemicals as you mark it complete. As you build your discipline muscle, you can move on to more complex tasks and goals – and conquer those on the way to success.


Mindset is the fourth pillar on the path to success. Your mindset is your outlook on life, how you respond to what’s happening around you. It’s important to be aware of your natural mindset as you move toward your goals, whether it’s smooth sailing or you encounter obstacles along the way. Your natural mindset will color how you see both positive and negative results along the way.  You can’t control everything, but you can control how you react to external forces and your inner dialogue.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the vortex of adulting with little time left for self-care, let alone to be able to take the time to reflect on and adjust your mindset as needed. If you don’t take the time to recognize your mindset in the “adulting vortex,” you leave yourself open to fear, imposter syndrome and other negative thoughts that can turn your mindset negative.

Take the time to reflect on your mindset. Start by simply observing your thoughts and responses to situations you encounter.  Start with a stressful situation and consider your response and thoughts. Did they drag you down for the rest of the day? Acknowledge the negative response and consider:

  • What did it teach you?
  • How could you have handled it better?
  • How can you avoid a similar negative spiral in the future?
  • How can you move on from it?

You’re not blaming yourself or criticizing yourself. You’re just working to flip your mindset from having something happen to you to controlling how it affects you now – and in the future. With a positive mindset you can capitalize on the growth opportunities, renew your faith in yourself, continue to fulfill your purpose, think about the discipline you’ve built and keep moving towards your end goal. 

You can do this. You got this!

Success, Fear and Mindset with author Mandy Schaniel