Belief is the basis of all action, and this being so, the belief that dominates the heart or mind is shown in the life.
–James Allen (Above Life’s Turmoil)

You will rarely attempt something that you don’t believe possible, and you will never give 100 percent of your ability to something in which you don’t believe.

One of the best known stories about the power of belief concerns Roger Bannister, the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. Before his accomplishment it was generally believed that the human body was incapable of such a feat. Bannister, who was a medical student, held another belief, however. He said, “Fueled by my faith in my training, I will overcome all obstacles. I am brave! I am not afraid to face anyone on the track. I believe this is not a dream. It is my reality.”

As soon as he broke the barrier, belief about the feat changed, and his record only lasted 46 days. Within two years, there were nine sub-four-minute miles. Hundreds have done so since. What happened in 1954 that hadn’t happened in the previous 6,000 years of human history that allowed Bannister to achieve this? Did the human body change so that this could be done? No, but the human belief system did!

My most favorite story about belief has a twist to it. Cynthia Kersey wrote about George Dantzig in Unstoppable. As a college student, George studied very hard and always late into the night, so late, in fact, that he overslept one morning, arriving 20 minutes late for class. He quickly copied the two math problems on the board, assuming that they were the homework assignment. It took him several days to work through the two problems, but finally, he had a breakthrough and dropped the homework on the professor’s desk the next day.

Later, on a Sunday morning, George was awoken at six in the morning by his excited professor. Since George had been late for class, he hadn’t heard the professor announce that the two unsolvable equations on the board were mathematical mind teasers that even Einstein hadn’t been able to answer, but George Dantzig, believing that he was working on just ordinary homework problems, had solved not one, but two problems that had stumped mathematicians for thousands of years.

How many great things could you achieve if you just believed that they were as easy as they really are?

Some years ago, I was listening to a friend of mine speak to a business audience, and she quoted a teaching by David Schwartz from The Magic of Thinking Big that rocked my life. She said, “The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief.” Now, that was the first personal development book I ever read, and I’ve read it at least 20 times since. I’m sure that I had heard that concept many times before that night, but it so impacted me that I wrote it down and must have looked at it a hundred times or more in the 30 days after that.

I spent the next few months focused on strengthening my belief in myself and in what I wanted to do. I worked each day on my beliefs by constantly affirming myself using written and verbal affirmations. The years since have been an incredible rocket ride.

How do you change your belief system?

* Prepare to win. Nothing will strengthen your belief system more than knowing that you’re prepared. His prerace training was the key to Bannister’s belief that he could achieve his goal.

* Take control of your thoughts. It’s your choice what you think about. Think success, and that’s what you’ll get; think failure, and that’s what you’ll attract. To help in controlling your thoughts, make it a habit to affirm yourself. I had a box of business cards with an old address that I was going to discard. Instead, I flipped them over to the blank side and wrote affirmations on them. I had two identical sets, one for my car and one for my office. Throughout the day I would read my “flash cards” aloud.

* Reevaluate your situation. One of my mentors, Bob Proctor, teaches that “our belief system is based on our evaluation of something. Frequently when we re-evaluate a situation our belief about that situation will change.”

* Don’t worry about “how to do it.” One of my early mistakes was trying to figure out how I was going to do something before I believed that I could do it at all. Start by believing that you can do something, and the “how to” will follow.

* Finally, you must act. Until you act, you’re not committed, and belief is not cemented.

What great challenge lies in your path today? Do you sincerely want to overcome or accomplish it? If the answer is yes, then can you believe it? Can you believe that the magic is really in you?

Recently, I was dramatically impressed by a passage in The Message of a Master by John McDonald. To me, it sums up the reason why most of us don’t have the belief to succeed: “The cause of the confusion prevailing in your mind that weakens your thoughts is the false belief that there is a power or powers outside you greater than the power within you.”

And that’s worth thinking about.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Vic Johnson is a popular author, speaker, and founder of four of the hottest personal development sites on the Internet, including, where he has given away almost 300,000 e-book copies of James Allen’s classic book. He also has several popular blogs, including