The No.1 Cause of Success You Can’t Control

Before you say it, let me. Success comes in many forms. Depending on your season in life, you might be looking for ways to improve your relationships, your work, your health or your finances. Perhaps your self-esteem has taken a beating, or you're struggling to find ‘your thing' – your passion in life.

Whatever you're chasing, though, there's one thing that will have a huge effect on your success. That thing is your upbringing – your family. I believe it's the single biggest influence on how you see the world and all its challenges. Whenever you face obstacles; whenever you're placed in a position where decisions must be made, your instinctive reactions will govern the story that plays out in your head. The values and beliefs you hold and the habits stemming from these will ultimately drive the actions you take – or don't take.

Time and again, I see my successes and failures stemming from my own upbringing. Because my parents were hard workers, disciplined savers and always practised the laws of delayed gratification, I saw these virtues as worthy. And because they actively encouraged my own pursuits and ambitions, I saw value in those, too.

Conversely, they were notoriously risk-averse and never invested their money for the long term, so this wasn't a habit that came naturally for me. I had to find alternative influencers for that. Lots of them.

My parents were also witness to dozens of my plans to do this or become that. They never belittled them or dismissed them as the flights of fancy some were. Instead, they encouraged them, and where possible, tried to help.

I know lots of men who were actively discouraged by their parents from having big dreams. Some even had them beaten out of them and today, those men still struggle to believe in their ideas and ambitions.

“You'll never amount to anything.”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“Who do you think you are?”

These statements sink deep into a young person's consciousness and can take decades to vanquish. They rob young minds of the free-spirited nature and self-confidence so essential to accomplishment.

There are ways, however, to overcome long-held personal limitations.

Your Inner Circle

I'm sure you've heard the saying, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” You're probably careful about who you give your money to yet how much vigilance do you exercise over where you spend your time? Time isn't just the most precious and finite resource you have, it's also a multiplier of effort so be extremely careful where and with whom you spend it.

I know men who were actively discouraged by their parents from having big dreams. Some even had them beaten out of them and today, those men still struggle to believe in their ideas and ambitions.

One of the best ways to reverse old programming is to change who your influencers are. An important distinction here is not to let others choose you. If you understand this principle and the power it has over your life, it is vital that you do the choosing. Aim to spend time with those who are further along the journey than you; people who stretch you and encourage you to be more than you are right now. Without even seeking their counsel, simply spending time with big thinkers and doers tends to rub off – it reshapes your thinking, your actions and eventually, your habits.


A single book can change your life. Seek out authors who encourage you to think in new ways. Make them your defacto advisers and friends. A lifetime of accomplishment and the techniques that created them can be gleaned from just one book. Some of my favourites are listed in the About section of my Website. Try some of them for yourself and the results will become self-evident. Almost every successful person is an avid reader of books that instruct and inspire.

Serve Without Expectation of Reward

Nothing sharpens the mind and brings balance to your thinking like serving others. Look at almost any of the great achievers out there. Chances are, they're actively engaging with people, sharing their knowledge and helping those who are coming up behind them.

Like all selfless giving, the reward comes the moment you give. Whether or not gratitude flows back is largely immaterial.

You're not Your Past

While your history has shaped and moulded who you are today, you're blessed with the unique ability to choose who you want to be tomorrow. It really is up to you. The stories you tell yourself are all fabrications. But you can ignore the ones that were created for you and instead, create whatever stories you damn well please.

As soon as you decide, you can retake control and make your story uniquely yours.


Thanks for stopping by and I hope we get to hang out more in the future. And in the meantime, please feel free to share your own experiences. You can also email me directly at I respond to all emails.

Disclaimer & Disclosure: I'm not a psychologist and I'm not a financial advisor's elbow. This material doesn't constitute financial advice but rather a collection of personal opinions, based on my own experiences. Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. I provide links to services or products I have used and liked or researched and recommend. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you believe they will be beneficial to you.

Also published on Medium.

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