Outswimming the Sharks: Achievement is for those who believe in themselves

"Some people succeed because they are destined to, but most people succeed because they are determined to."

When Henry Ford said those oh-so-true words, he wasn't just talking about himself -- even though he is the epitome of determination. He went belly-up several times, but never lost sight of his goal. He believed in himself and in what he was doing. In the end, he was so right.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't accomplish your goals. Who says you're not tougher, better, harder-working, smarter and more able than your competition? If you believe in yourself, there's hardly anything you can't accomplish.

Most actors fail before they succeed. Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman were both voted by their acting classmates as the "Least Likely to Succeed." And how many of those classmates can boast an Academy Award? Harrison Ford was told by movie executives that he simply didn't have what it took to be a star. Of course, he proved them wrong by starring in the "Star Wars" trilogy, the "Indiana Jones" series and a string of movies that have grossed more than $6 billion!

Some of the most successful singers in history have overcome bumpy starts as well. Diana Ross and the Supremes were flops on their first nine records, but the 10th took them to the top of the charts. After only one performance, Elvis Presley was fired in 1954 by Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, who told him, "You ain't going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck." One recording company executive told The Beatles, "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."

What part of "no" didn't these people understand? The part that said "no confidence." They had every confidence that they could achieve and succeed.

Business legends are no different. We all know about inspirational success stories like Bill Gates, Col. Harland Sanders and R.H. Macy.

But do you know about Soichiro Honda? Many of you have driven his cars, used his lawn mowers and ridden his motorcycles. Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corp. for a job as an engineer, so he started making scooters and finally started his own company. Honda Corp. says: "We see the world not as it is, but as it could be. We see the world through the eyes of dreamers. Because we are a company founded by a dreamer. And we are a company built on dreams."

As I've said so many times, if we want to triple our success ratio ... we might have to triple our failure rate.

Surround yourself with top-quality people and truly listen to their input. Don't wait until it's too late to change. Start to take the true measure of your success now. What do you possess that you can offer to other people, to your community, to the world?

To simply ask the question, "How can I make a difference?" is to answer it, because the answer is to never let yourself stop asking the question.

Mackay's Moral: You must believe if you want to achieve.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman and author. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or send e-mail to harvey@mackay.com. His column is distributed by United Feature Syndicate.

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