“Yes, no, or maybe” are the possible answers. What is the real question? Do we or don’t we have the power of free will to make choices and changes that help shape our future? Maybe this is one very basic assumption that is worth assuming in its entirety. Then the better question becomes, “To what degree do we have the power to change things and affect reality? This leads to the inevitable question of how far can we go with this idea? Who knows? Often, it is not the clever answers that solve the difficult problems, but the smart questions we can think to ask.

The fundamental belief in the degree of power you think you have to create your future has many serious ramifications. It is the ultimate starting point and full-circle conclusion of what Martin Seligman calls optimistic vs. pessimistic explanatory styles. When good and bad things happen to us, we can have positive-optimistic or negative-pessimistic interpretations and explanations to these things; not surprisingly such explanations just happen to influence health, happiness, success, marital satisfaction and life expectancy, in not so small ways. Guess which direction?

Actually in one way or the other, this basic power belief influences all your goals, expectations, behavior and success. People who believe in the power of their infinite potential set lofty goals, have positive expectations, think and behave in a productive and right manner, have tenacity to get through difficult adversity and achieve great success. Without commitment to this fundamental belief, many people are just wasting time in trying to advance varying degrees of lesser success. They are like a great ship in dry dock—looking good but not doing much.

Is there really any good reason to not believe in the full potential to create your future? (The silence is deafening). The direction of this belief is either the locked or open door to genuine happiness, true meaning, comforting peace of mind and satisfying success. People who get it want to share their secrets with others who don’t. The trouble is, this is probably one of the most difficult things in life to figure out how to do effectively. It could be one of our main purposes. It is a secret itself worth sharing once we learn how.

Much of the process to achieve success has to do with removing obstacles or barriers that are in the way. Below are a few mental barriers that successful people have to remove in their own minds in order to help the less successful ones remove them too, before this positive power belief can begin to work its cascading magic. Oddly these “barriers” are also crucibles that enable power.

As Lao Tse said, “In anything timing is everything.” We are all evolving into our potential—whether we believe and see ourselves participating in this ongoing big picture or not—moving at our own personal pace. The quicker we see this reality, the more we want to tell others. But the very belief in the power to develop our potential is something we have to discover on our very own at our own speed. A realization that is sometimes very hard to swallow is that nobody seems to have much luck at hurrying this process up for themselves or others.

As a successful person, all you can do to spread success is to become more sensitive to moments of opportunity with others and strike while the iron is hot. These are few and far between and it just takes plain old patience. In the meantime you can take full advantage of your own moments of opportunity to strengthen and live your belief.

It is easier to say something than do it. Just like the difficulty in learning good timing, it is hard to give up our tendency to want to get ahead of ourselves in telling someone what and how to do something that we know gets fantastic results, when we already know the only thing that works is to show them the something. Talk is cheap and only action counts.

Walking our own talk is the last stage of being a good student and finally moving onto being a good teacher. Then when the timing is right and someone asks you about your success prescription, you can share a few clever clues, which the person can develop into his or her own unique formula. We all have to do it our own way.

Life is a very consistent behavior modification program giving everyone an equal and perpetual opportunity to get things right. The object is to make the connection between your thinking and behavior and the consequences you get from those thoughts and acts. The feedback is usually simple, instant and undeniable.

When you think the right thoughts and do the right things, you get the right results. If you don’t, you get everything else. And if you don’t like that state of affairs, all you have to do is try a new approach until you finally get it right. Then you have a standard to go by, so long as you learn from both your failures and successes.

The way your mind most often fails is through the unproductive habit of quickly looking for little concrete truths that can easily produce instant success. The real process to arrive at wisdom, which leads naturally to success, is a little more complicated though. You must experience and then understand abstract operating principles and laws that have wide general utility and truth, well enough that you can reduce them to practicality and make concrete applications in everyday living.

The best example is the above one about life being a huge behavior modification program. All you have to do is slow down and notice the connection between what you are thinking. feeling and doing right now and the consequences you are getting; if you aren’t where you want to be with these things all you have to do is think about something else or go do something different until you do get what you want. That opportunity is perpetual and you can’t escape its reality.

One for the road: If you have discovered a success secret that you feel is true and worthy of other people’s consideration, say or write it now anyway—someone might just be listening.

To share your success secrets practice careful timing and good modeling, get grounded in rightness, and translate the abstract to concrete.