Here’s a tried-and-true formula for achieving success. I call it the BEST Success Model for obvious reasons.

ABOUT BELIEFS –You create your own future. And each element in the above equation plays a pivotal role in how you do that. It’s no accident the foundation of all success begins with your beliefs – because whatever you believe is possible for yourself IS.

There are two aspects to consider. The first is the belief you “can” achieve success–i.e., you’ve got what it takes. With the second being you “deserve” to have it. For many, the latter is the harder of the two aspects to master; with the end result being various forms of self-sabotage. But when you can recognize that is what you’re doing to yourself, it’s easy to self-correct. Should you find yourself desperately wanting success but sub-consciously don’t believe you deserve it, it won’t matter how hard you work for it, it will always elude you. The success game is 99% mastery of your own mind!

Take a step back and consider the definition of success. In today’s consumer-oriented society, people tend to define success in dollars. However, you can be extremely successful and not have made a lot of money at all. Money is not success; it is only one (of several) by-products of it.

The definition I like best is “success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal”. Earl Nightingale explains it all masterfully on a CD recording called “The Strangest Secret in the World”. The valuable message it provides is this: Thoughts are things–We become what we think about.

At this time, all you need to do is consider where you are with your beliefs right now. Be very honest with yourself about this.

Just start from where you are now. Do you feel stuck? Do you want to move forward and make better use of your capabilities? Would you like to be able to react and communicate more appropriately, make better choices and have better relationships with yourself and others?

These things are only possible when you uncover and permanently remove the limiting beliefs affecting your creativity and ability to succeed. That’s essentially the gift of support a mentor brings to you along with the bonus of being able to share knowledge and wisdom gained from experience to guide you in your own path.

For the moment, all you have to do is remember this: we all hunger for acceptance, belonging, validation, and love. These are the four drivers of all human behavior–on and off the job! Regardless of your station in life or your role in the organization, these four key factors underpin all situations (that is all actions and non-actions) and reactions to same. They affect everything that happens to you on your personal success journey. They affect every person you come into contact with. They affect YOU.

And, the better you get at recognizing these forces at play in the workplace and in your own relationships, the faster you will get where you want to go and the easier it’ll be to get there. To get started, make a point of noticing what’s going on around you. Pay attention to the words people use when they are telling about this or that situation that has happened to them. And notice how they speak about themselves in relation to others.

ABOUT EXPERIENCES–These 4 factors also make a nice lead-in to the next element of the equation: experiences.

The beliefs you hold about who you are, where you came from, and what you’re capable of shape your experiences by providing a filter through which you see and feel all the things going on around you at work and at home. They influence how you respond to and interact with others you meet along the way to your success.

It’s important to realize we don’t ever see people as they are, we always see them as we are. It’s critical you understand and accept this. Whenever a situation or a person is annoying the hell out of you, the universe is really holding up a mirror and trying to show you a part of yourself you desperately need to work on. And here’s a little secret. The more annoyed you are, the more work on yourself you need to do.

This rule applies whether you are the boss or the employee, the parent or the child, the husband or the wife, the friend or the family member. Do yourself a favor by paying close attention to these feelings and be honest with yourself about them!

Always maintain an attitude of gratitude.You move along the path of your self-created success, by accumulating experiences. Some you want and need to have; others come along just to teach you what you need to know (see details above). Some you will welcome and be happy about; images others you won’t. Regardless, it’s important to maintain an attitude of gratitude for all of the experiences gifted to you because it’s only from this state that you can prepare yourself to receive success.

ABOUT STUDIES–And now I’m going to tell you something not likely to be very popular. Especially if you’ve recently graduated from school and have just started working… you are never finished learning. Learning opportunities are everywhere and it’s in your own best interest to take advantage of as many of them as you possibly can.

Learners are earners! The more you invest in ongoing learning, the higher your earnings will always be. That said–no one knows it all. And the sooner you accept that, the better off you will be!

(FYI: You will meet people who think they do, and act like they do but they are delusional.)

It’s up to you how much time you want to spend on your continuing education. And, by the way, piling up more letters after your name is not what this means. Some of your learning will happen on the job; the rest you commit to acquiring on your own time. Participating in mastermind groups and mentoring programs on your own initiative is an example of investing your own time in this regard. Taking courses offered by your employer after hours is another. Never miss an opportunity for more learning–especially if your employer will pay the bill for it.

If you are serious about getting ahead, a good rule of thumb is to devote 10% of your standard work week to additional learning. This amounts to just 3 to 4 hours or so. If you work in a fast-moving industry or want to rise through the ranks quickly, bump this up to about 8 hours per week. Now here’s the best part…if you manage your work day productively, this won’t cut into your personal life one little bit!

Opportunities to learn are everywhere. Open your eyes and ears. Turn off the tv. Watch. Listen. Read books. Take courses. Talk to people. Then volunteer for every opportunity where you will have a chance to try out what you’ve learned. The best learning comes with DOING!

ABOUT TESTS–This is the point in the formula where real success happens. Everything that comes before this is important but skipping this part (as most folks do) is what separates the wannabes and also rans from the fast-tracking superstars! The only way to tell if you are making the progress you need to make is to constantly be measuring and evaluating your own performance. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Be pro-active in monitoring yourself and in seeking feedback from others.

Feedback is the “breakfast of champions”. Without feedback you’re working mostly with assumptions and a pile of guesswork. You can’t manage your career effectively that way. More importantly, you can’t make course corrections when they’re called for or needed. Winners keep score!

Now you might think you only need to read a lot and you’ll “get it” by osmosis. If you take that route you’ll be shortchanging yourself. Nothing beats doing. We need less talk. Less thinking. More doing.

Remember this very powerful formula. If you are not working this way now, don’t despair – there is always time for chanindexge. But don’t try to do a 180 and change everything about yourself overnight. Let these new ideas into your mind; then be patient and let the new behaviors evolve. It takes time to come around to new ways of thinking. New ways of being.

It takes commitment. It takes practice. You will make mistakes. That won’t matter. At the end of the day, there is no failure, there is only learning.

AUTHOR’S BIO: Internationally renowned business strategist, ubermentor and MBA Professor Linda M. Lopeke is the creator of SmartStart virtual mentoring programs – the fastest, easiest way to super-size your career success.

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