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The Three Fundamental Principles of Achievement




I’m all about keeping things simple. The world is much too complex and I find that much like Vince Lombardi, we tend to complicate things. If we just focus on truly mastering the basics, we can achieve whatever we set our hearts and minds to. One of my favorite stories comes from Coach Lombardi’s best-selling book.

“He took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. “Gentlemen,” he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, “this is a football.”

It is the summer of 1961, and he begins training by introducing a “football” to a bunch of men who had been playing football for years, perhaps well over a decade. Was this Insulting? No, because the players obviously knew what a football was. Nonetheless, from day one Vince Lombardi was teaching them the basics. This was the secret of one of the winningest coaches in the history of football because the basic, fundamental principles never fail.

When you build a wall, the basic element is a single brick. Put enough of them together, in the right pattern and you have your wall. Concert pianists use only eight keys to create the world’s greatest masterpieces. They don’t try to come up with new notes. They work with what they have.

As fortune would have it, there are basic principles of achievement that when mastered, create success. It’s a formula you can count on, which is as predictable as the sunrise. Success doesn’t care how old you are, how much money you have or haven’t earned in the past. It doesn’t give a hoot about your skin color, background or where you grew up. Regardless of who you are, success is achieved when the basics are mastered.

Here are three of the most fundamental principles of achievement:

1. High-achievers take action

With a ready-fire-aim mentality, nothing beats taking action. You could pull out a great book about success and learn from the greats, but there is no better teacher than experience, which comes only from taking action.

The dangerous thing about the internet is the overabundance of information as we’re still a little unsure of how to handle it. Because of all this new information, many entrepreneurs can easily get caught in a comfort zone of learning because it makes them feel like they’re doing something when they’re not sure what else to do or they’re afraid to take action. By reading another book or listening to one more podcast, they delay action and don’t have to feel guilty.

Others spend too much time making a decision. They worry about making the “right” decision. A mentor of mine taught me that it’s far more powerful to “make a decision, and then make it right.” If you find out it’s wrong, make a new decision, pivot quickly and take new action. Whatever you do, avoid getting caught up in analysis paralysis. Action is the cure.

“The path to success is to take massive, determined actions.” – Tony Robbins

2. Consistent action breeds momentum

Momentum is the mitochondria of the cell; the powerhouse. When you have momentum on your side, several benefits kick in. For example, challenges shrink from overwhelming obstacles to small speed bumps and you will tend to make decisions quickly. Small annoyances become meaningless as momentum serendipitously brings with it a cousin named “confidence.”

Think back to the last time you made a lane change while driving. It was easy; you glanced over your shoulder (hopefully) to make sure there was adequate space, put on your blinker and drove into the other lane.

Compare that with your lane getting caught in a standstill. The lane next to you is cruising along, must be an accident up ahead. Naturally, you want to make the same maneuver- a lane change. You look over your shoulder and…wait. You wait for a gap sufficiently large enough to allow you to jump into the lane and speed up without cutting off oncoming traffic.

Granted, some drivers don’t seem to care much about that (ask me how I know), but you get the idea. Momentum is a mindset game changer. When you have it, everything seems easier because everything is “going your way.”

3. Habit takes over and rules it all

Once you are consistently taking action, and you’re having fun because of all this newfound momentum on your side, you’re likely to repeat it and form a habit. Firstly, this happens mentally and then physically. Mentally, a habit is a new way of thinking about things, because your expectations change. Without realizing, you begin “looking” for good things to happen because you just know they will. You become an optimist.

Your habits are the backbone to your success. Once you start the mental habit of thinking like a successful person and you start doing the things successful people do every day, your life changes. Success is inevitable. It’s the law of the harvest- you reap what you sow. Plant good seeds in the spring, water them all summer and fall will produce.

“Winners make a habit of manufacturing their own positive expectations in advance of the event.” – Brian Tracy

If you aren’t where you want to be in life, take a deeper look and you’ll notice a breakdown somewhere along the way. Be honest in your self-diagnosis and admit when you’re off track. Allow for mistakes, because perfectionism is one of the great plagues prevalent in our society.

So now that you’ve read this blog, stop learning and start earning. Get up and take action- start the cycle and see how it changes your life.

Which one of these principles will help you most this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Matthew Wilson is an award-winning creative director, productivity geek, father of five and a partner and creative director at a Phoenix-based advertising agency. He is also a consultant, speaker and creator/founder of, the market’s simplest goal setting system, using daily goal cards to help achievers focus on what's most important. More information can be found at To order a free 15-day set of cards, visit this link - 3x5 Cards.

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