It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.
— Oprah

What if nine tenths of our success in business has more to do with our belief systems, than our talents or abilities?

I read once that Oprah doesn’t think she’s a good business person because she doesn’t make her decisions based on business parameters, but rather on what she feels is right. Well, her approach seems to work pretty well for her.

I have a friend, Susan, whose career is making clay flutes. She crafts intricately designed flutes of clay, travels the world giving workshops on how to make them, and is considered a leading authority in the art form. Who knew there could be a career in clay flutes?

I read an article recently about a woman in San Francisco with a severe mental disorder who spent much of her life moving around the country and dealing with episodes of complete breaks from reality, sometimes lasting for months at a time. A few years ago she was able to find a pattern of living for herself, which enabled a more stable lifestyle. So she then decided to open a coffee house based on three things that are important to her: coffee, coconuts, and toast. I won’t go into the stories behind these three offerings, but I would recommend reading the article, as it’s a fascinating read. But, here’s the thing, coffee, coconuts and toast, together with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, are the only things on the menu¬. There are no tables and chairs and it’s in an odd part of town. And yet her shop is packed with customers. Not only is her shop successful she’s expanding to additional locations and is credited for starting a west coast trend for artisan toast¬—kid you not.

“Could it be as simple as them believing in their visions and their abilities to carry them out?”

The lesson in these stories is that people like Oprah, my friend the flute maker, and the woman from San Francisco have followed a very different course in life. They didn’t go to business school and then enter the business world intending to apply all they learned about how business is supposed to work, but rather they each followed their passions, they believed in their visions, they each held to the integrity of their vision, and they have had the courage to go after their visions in the face of significant challenges.

If the woman from San Francisco had hired a restaurant consultant before opening her coffee house, the consultant would likely have told her she was crazy for pursuing such an idea. If my friend Susan had thought about what other people might think of her career choice she may never have become a leading world expert on a craft that she truly loves. And Oprah¬—well Oprah wouldn’t be Oprah.

We could write volumes about the differences and distinctions, the character traits and philosophies, and personal strengths and weaknesses. But could the origin of the success of these three women be as simple as their belief systems—could it be as simple as them believing in their visions and their abilities to carry them out? Gandhi once wrote, “If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

Could it be that simple?

I believe it is.