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The Top 10 Reasons Why Good People Don’t Win

If you’re as successful as you want to be, then this series isn’t for you.

But if you know that you can and truly want to live closer to your full and unique potential, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve been studying and coaching successful people and successful organizations for almost 40 years. As a student and teacher of success principles, I’ve learned some important lessons in life—some of them at great expense. I’ve also studied the best and the brightest minds to glean from them what works—and doesn’t work—in creating a life we can be proud of.

I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that there’s no key to the door of success. But the good news is the door isn’t locked. There are many pieces to the success puzzle, for sure. And there’s no one thing that ensures your success. It’s possible to experience substantial achievement without having all the pieces, but why not stack the deck in your favor?

In this course, I’ll be sharing with you the reasons smart, hardworking and well-intentioned people usually live far below their potential. And I will show you how to overcome these obstacles so you can plan, create and live your best life.

My intention is to help you go for what you really want. It’s based on my belief that you can achieve anything you want in life but not everything you want. And that’s why we must choose carefully what we dedicate our best efforts.

Knowing and understanding the things that keep you from being your best will help you create your life in a way that positions you for success.

So. Let’s get started.

“Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon . . . must inevitably come to pass!”

—Paul J. Meyer

One of the biggest reasons smart, hard-working, well-intentioned people don’t win is that they simply have Insufficient Desire.

“Desire is the starting point of all achievement; not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.”

—Napoleon Hill

Desire is the why you want something. And the why is far more important than how you get it. Without a strong enough why, the how is very insignificant.

Napoleon Hill devoted an entire chapter in Think and Grow Rich to the subject of desire. He obviously thought it was important enough to be the very first of the 13 steps, calling it The First Step Toward Riches. He knew that without a strong enough Why, any challenges or obstacles you encounter will cause you to give up, procrastinate—or give it less than your best.

Reasons come first. Answers come second.

It seems like the universe hangs onto solutions and only gives them up to those who are sufficiently inspired and committed—those with real desire.

Any big goal will have obstacles. There will be changes you’ll have to make and problems that will have to be solved.

Mark Twain once said that he could teach anyone how to get what they wanted, but that he couldn’t find anyone who actually knew what they wanted. Sadly it’s as true today as it was in the 1800s when Twain said it.

Knowing what you truly want and having a big enough reason to go after it, is one of the biggest keys to success. Someone in possession of a powerful desire will almost always surpass someone with more skill and more knowledge—but a smaller amount of desire. The person who has sufficient desire will do whatever it takes to accomplish the objective. Whatever stands in the way must surrender to the will of the truly determined.

People who get big things done are passionate about what they do. And if your desire is lacking, you simply will not make the progress you want. And you will lose to those who have greater passion.

So finding your why is likely the single most important thing you can do to win the game. And having a strong why will ensure that you are playing a game worth playing.

Without sufficient desire, you don’t have the commitment and the dedication to overcome the challenges, weather the disappointments, develop the disciplines required and make the tough decisions to achieve your big goals.

You might think that you suffer from procrastination and that you just aren’t that disciplined, but I don’t think so. I believe that it’s insufficient desire first and foremost.

Big goals require more than just an interest. They need commitment and dedication. You have to really care about achieving your goals—really care.

If you have a goal (or several) that you say you’re committed to achieve, but have not made much progress with, take another look. Is it REALLY something you want? Does it truly inspire you? Is it something you ardently desire? Or is it perhaps a “should”? Or someone else’s goal.

If it is something you want, revisit your why. Because a powerful desire will turn your wishbone into a backbone.

“The bigger the why, the easier the how. Why will trump how every  time.”

—Jim Rohn

Strategies for Increasing Desire
So how do you go about finding more desire—or creating it?

Know Yourself. The better you know yourself, the easier it is to choose and achieve your goals. Knowing what really makes you happy—your core values, your beliefs and your priorities—makes deciding on your goals easier and gives you a greater chance to succeed.

Feel Worthy. First and foremost, I think you have to give yourself permission to have what you truly want. Too often, I find people thinking they aren’t worthy and don’t deserve to have more. Feeling worthy is a decision. If you can dream it, you are deserving of it.

And you having what you want does not mean someone else goes without or will have less—unless you were to desire something that belongs exclusively to someone else. You wanting and achieving something big usually means that many other people will benefit as well. If you buy a bigger, better house, lots of people will benefit. If you take a trip around the world, many people will be paid for their services.

Think Big. Dream Big. I don’t know anyone who is guilty of thinking too big. But I know many who think too small. Sure, there are those who talk big but never do anything about it. Those are pipe dreams. And sometimes you have to act in small ways to achieve big things. But do you really know anyone who was too big a thinker?

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die,
life is like a broken wing’d bird that cannot fly.”

—Langston Hughes

Hang around big thinkers and big doers. Stretch yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. Go to open houses for homes two and three and even ten times grander than the one in which you live. Test drive some beautiful cars. Get some brochures of exotic vacations. Start a Dream Board and paste some inspiring “big thinking” pictures.

It’s really no harder to think big than it is to think small. Just as it’s no harder to earn a million dollars a year than $100,000. You certainly don’t have to work ten times as hard. What it takes is a decision, a commitment and practice.

Big, audacious goals have the ability to transform you, your team and your organization. A butterfly is not a better caterpillar. It’s completely new. It’s transformed. And that’s what you can be when you are sufficiently inspired and filled with desire.

Turn Up the Heat. If you truly want something but seem lacking in motivation and suffering from a deficiency in progress, you have to ramp up your mojo.

Focus on how good things will be when you achieve your goal. Visualize, affirm and bask in the glory of success.  If it’s losing weight, think about how great it will feel to wear that new suit to that upcoming wedding (two sizes smaller). List ALL the benefits of being healthier, fitter, more agile—and sexier.

Conversely, emphasize the pain and anguish of not hitting your target. You’re not just a few pounds overweight (unless you really are), you’re fat—obese even. Think about the fact that you are literally digging your grave with your teeth.

In short, identify all the rewards of winning and emphasize them. And then accentuate the agony of failure. Visualize a  bigger, sweeter carrot and a bigger, more painful stick.

You’re looking to set and achieve goals that you feel passionate about. Ones that charge your emotions and fire your soul. After all, why invest the best of you in something you would only like to accomplish. Go after something you HAVE to have—something the mere pursuit of which excites you. As Lord Byron said, “In great attempts is it glorious even to fail.”

“I want to be around people who do things. I don’t want to be around people who judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people who dream and support and accomplish things.”

—Amy Poehler


  • Read or re-read Napoleon Hill’s chapter on Desire in Think and Grow Rich. It’s the first of the 13 Steps.
  • Our brand new Best Life Navigator™ is launching November 15th. Think of it as your Swiss Army Knife for creating your best life. It has some great tools for brainstorming your deepest desires and helping you clarify what you want most—and more importantly WHY you want them. In addition, it allows you to keep these highly desired goals front and center—and all in one place. It has all the tools you need for success all in one place.

Take Action
I encourage you to start a list of everything you can think of that you’ve ever wanted in your life. Big things, small things—it doesn’t matter. They should all go on the list.

This is not a time to be judgmental. What you write down doesn’t even need to be practical. Let your imagination wander. If you find yourself thinking something is silly, impractical or too expensive, write it down anyway.

This is your dream list. So dream away. Add to your list often and review it on a regular basis.

Star, bold or underline those ideas you are more interested in or passionate about.

This is the beginning of a simple yet profound process of determining what you really, really want.

It can and should be a list you maintain as a lifelong endeavor. It’s a list you can mine and sift through from time to time to look for the golden nuggets that will become your goals.

By writing these ideas down, you clarify your thinking. Don’t leave them in your head. Get them out and get them down. A dull pencil is better than even the sharpest memory.

Don’t think it, ink it.

Start your list of everything you ever wanted today. Don’t judge. Just write with abandon. These are not goals, but rather wild ideas. You are not committing to achieve them. Think big. Be bold.

Later you will use these ideas to help you pick from them the important goals that you will commit to going for.

Because your desire truly matters. And what you really and truly want will determine, almost more than any other thing, whether or not you win.

Please stay tuned for the next installment of The Top 10 Reasons Good People Don’t Always Win. Any guesses as to what the next of the Top 10 Reasons is?

A Request . . . Please Tell Us What You Think
Please add your comments, questions and suggestions at the bottom of this post. Your feedback and engagement is important. If you disagree with anything, say so. If you have questions, ask. If you have additional insights or resources, please share. I promise to read every one. Thank you.

BTW, you’ll gain even greater value from this series if you have a copy of my book, The Achievement Code: The 3C Formula for Getting What You Truly Want (available in print or Kindle). Details at www.TheAchievementCode.com

  1. October 17th, 2014 at 05:17 | #1

    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for marketing tips

  2. October 17th, 2014 at 17:42 | #2

    For years, I’ve been creating collages to create a vision for my goals / dreams / aspirations, etc. I put the collage up on the bulletin board in my office so I see that vision every day. It is amazing to look back on a collage from years ago and realize that the goals were manifested in magnificent ways.
    Because of a recent move, my bulletin board is not yet hung up in my office. That will be on this week end’s to-do list. Must have the vision and the desire!
    Thank you for this great article and insight, Michael.

  3. January 5th, 2015 at 16:24 | #3

    Thanks a lot Michael.
    I agree with you that desire is the most important factor to get what we want. It will give us a power when we down. It will rise our body when we down. And it is the matter that will break the wall in front of us to reach the goal.

    thanks for sharing and I will continue with the second factors