The One Thing You Won’t Find A Formula For

Do you remember your school days? When you were taught the formula for pi, surface area, or how to calculate volume.

We were taught they were absolute. And they are.

Formulas are so ingrained into our psyche that we look for them everywhere. Even success.

Image by Tom Brown

Image by Tom Brown

I’ve got bad news for you today. There’s no success formula. There’s no way to calculate what’s going to bring success to you and to everyone else.

You won’t be able to find a formula for success.

There’s no easy path to success.

Success will look different for everyone. That’s why we cannot lay down a simple plan or rule that will lead to success.

Instead, there are principles that we can follow that will help, but not guarantee, success.

These success principles include:

Hard Work: Success favors those who are hard at work. Find something that you can pour yourself into and do the work. Do it long enough and you may find success.

Passion: Rarely does success come to those who lack passion. Discover what sets your heart on fire.

Endurance: You must be willing to endure to become successful. Some days will be miserable and you’ll want to give in. DON’T! Instead, endure the challenges laid before you. Go the 20 miles.

Dream Big: Go after something so big people will tell you it’s impossible. Remember, they told Edison he couldn’t harness light, the Wright Brothers they couldn’t fly, and that we couldn’t put a man on the moon (though there are some who dispute that we really did). Others have done the impossible, so can you!

Learn To Say No: As much as we’d like to say yes to everything, saying yes to something means we’re saying to something else. Choose wisely what you will say yes to.

Get Started: There’s no way you’ll become successful if you don’t start. You must be willing to take action. Decide on what you want to do and start going for it.

Be Positive: Our mental mindsets have a huge impact on the level of success we can achieve. Get rid of the negativeness and create a positive atmosphere.

Embrace Failure: Kick the old school thoughts that failure is bad to the curb. Learn to embrace the fact that failures will come as you move towards success. Look to the failures as opportunities to learn what not to do.

Once again, this isn’t a road map to success. There is no such thing.

These are tested principles that have shown themselves to be factors in being a success. Apply one or even all of these to your life and you’re on your way to success.

Question: What other principles have you found for success? Please share one or more with us in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • jodyberkey

    Nike’s “Just Do It” seems so simplistic, but it’s so true. You can only think, plan, and dream for so long. At some point you need to jump in and commit to doing it. We’ve done this recently with jumping into podcasting for 90 Revolutions. Buying the audio equipment was our first step. Now I’m stepping out and asking runners for interviews. I have three lined up so far and the equipment arrived in the mail yesterday. There’s no turning back now. We’ve publicly committed. Just do it!!!

    • Jody, isn’t that the truth? To be successful, we’ve got to take action. Glad to hear you’re jumping in and getting things done.

      What types of runners are you looking to interview? I’ve got a friend who’s done some ultra-marathons and another who’s done a couple of marathons. I could connect you to them if you’d like.

      • Jody Berkey

        Thanks for the support and willingness to connect us with fellow runners. Our focus for the “Why We Run” series is runners with stories that inspire others to keep running or overcome challenges and excuses and start. We’d love to connect with anyone who fits this profile.

        • I know just the guy for you then. I’ll see if he’s interested and send him your way.

          • jodyberkey

            Awesome! Thanks, Joe. Our list is shaping up nicely so far. We’re excited to get started.

            • That’s fantastic Jody. I hope Bob gets in touch with you. If he doesn’t, you might want to check out his blog It’s about his passion of food but he also mentions his running on the site.

              • jodyberkey

                Thanks, Joe. I’ll keep an eye out for any correspondences from him and check out his blog. I appreciate your time and effort.

  • Great advice, Joe! Lately I feel like I’ve been in a boxing match. I keep connecting with great opportunities only to have the wind knocked out of me when, one by one, they fall through. Success for me was easy in my last job, but my passions were elsewhere. Now success has turned into a long crawl uphill in some soggy Arkansas clay.

    I know, with hard work and relentless networking, success will come. Along the way, I’ve just had to continue to redefine it.

    • Sorry to hear that it seems you keep getting the wind knocked out of you. Building the success in new positions can be difficult. Keep at it though, regardless of how it feels, you’re more than likely at the stage for breakthrough.

  • Bill | LeadershipHeartCoaching

    Great list, Joseph

    I think each point you make is spot on. I especially like the one about remaining positive. As John Madden once said, “success breeds success”.

    One principle to success I have found is giving something back. We all know about famous people and celebrities and the donations they make, but closer to home we can donate our time to mentor and teach others. We can also volunteer our talents within the community.

    Wishing you success!

    • Volunteering and donations are amazing ways to move towards success. Aside from the good feeling and good work you get to do, you’re also putting yourself out there on display for others to see and people to meet.

  • I have grown tired of all the 4 steps to….. – Just do ABC and all your dreams will come true. Often they came up lacking. You have a great list of those principles we need to implement but like you said we need to be responsible and chart our own course.

    • Glad you liked the list, even though you’re getting tired of the 4 steps and blah blah blah ways to do such. The lists always seem lacking but I think it’s because success is different for everyone.

  • I just finished reading an excellent book by John Wooden that featured his “Pyramid of Success.” His principles are great! I wouldn’t say that are a formula. They are more a way of life.

    • Jon, that’s the real deal. There’s no “path” to success that you can follow. It’s applied proper principles that will get you there.

  • These are great and so true. I would add surrounding yourself with the right kind of people. Who you surround yourself with can bring you up or drag you down!

    • Kimanzi, I’ve found that to be the case. When we get the right people around us, the right things begin to happen. How have you made this happen?

  • Nicely said, Joe. I just talked about the importance of saying no in last weeks blog. Sometimes you have to say no to good things so we can experience best things. Here’s the link if intersted 🙂
    Good job!

    • So true Dave. No will get us further if we’re intentional!

  • Great principles for success Joseph. I would add two more, the honesty principle and the kindness principle. It seems to me that those to character commitments are often a strong component in success!

    • Thanks Caleb. I’d have to agree with you

  • Learning to function on fewer hours of sleep. This is vital to success; most successful people sleep six or less hours. Every day! Ugh. True, though!

    • Lorraine, I know amount of sleep can be a touchy subject. Some great leaders say we need 7-8 hours of sleep a night (like Michael Hyatt) while others are thriving on 3 (Skip Prichard). It always makes me wonder

      • Some people need more sleep than others – this is a fact of life. Some people, however drink a lot of coffee, too, which stimulates their minds. I know for myself, if I drink tea (I don’t like coffee), I can stay awake longer, thus increasing my productivity. But now, we are getting into the topic of personal health, and eating and drinking habits… 🙂

  • I think the first three go together – it is hard to be anything less than successful when you work hard at something you love for a long time. I’d add always delivering more than expected and working with integrity.

    • Tom, going the extra mile and giving more than you said always leaves a great impact and helps bring success. What’s one thing you do to go the extra mile?

      • Here is a small thing – set your presentation or spreadsheet to print on one page with margins and headers/footers all set.

  • These are some great principles of success. I’d add always keep growing and learning is another principle to become and stay successful. Thanks for writing such a great post!

    • Those are great principles as well Dan. Without growth and learning,we’ll slowly lose our effectiveness as a leader.

  • That simplifies it, Joe. Thanks much for that list. I so much like Proverbs 16:3. It has a powerful principle for accomplishment and for answers of where to go from here. “Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.” Seems backwards. I’d like to know (or have the thoughts first) then do the works. To me it means that *whatever* I am doing now… I commit that to the Lord. Then He will give me the thoughts for what to do next. I believe that is such a powerful principle for success.

    • Thanks for sharing the verse Arlen. It’s an interesting thought but it makes sense. I see it as when we’re doing work for God, our thoughts begin to change towards His thoughts.

  • Joe, perseverance is another great one. Most people quit right before they get their big break through. Success is built by tons of little baby steps.

    Great post.

    • Great addition Larry. You’ll never know how close you are to success if you give up. You could be that one, small step away and lose all the momentum you’ve gained.

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