The Secret to Success Business School Doesn’t Teach

It's not lying, it's creating a new reality for yourself

Action alone will never give you the results you seek. Carl Heyerdahl/Unslpash

“I’m an finance tech entrepreneur. I’ve built this business over the last five years and I’ve invested all my time, money, resources and blood into it, but it has yet to take off,” says my 20-something client.

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“Why do you think that is?” I ask him.

“I really don’t know. I know I have the foundation to be a success—a top education, an amazing network, great relationships and prospects—yet things are still not coming together the way I’d hoped. I just don’t get it; I’m at a loss. I’m down to my last $5,000 and have no idea what else to do,” he says.

“Clearly something is missing,” I tell him.

“Yeah, I don’t have the financing I need,” he says.

No, it’s not about your fundraising—although obviously that needs some attention. What do you think could be missing?” I ask.

“I honestly can’t put my finger on it. I’ve applied every strategy I’ve ever learned in business school and in incubators, yet this success model is flailing. I also work like a dog six days a week. I don’t have a life any more, and yet I have nothing to show for the last five years of my life. I can’t physically do more,” he says.

“No, you can’t,” I tell him. “Nor should you. You’re doing too much already and unfortunately, you’re doing the wrong work.”

“What do you mean, the wrong work?” he asks.

Your thoughts have to be aligned with your actions, or nothing will change.

The thoughts you have about the work you are doing are actually more important that the actions you are taking.

“Do you believe you are worthy of success? Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe in this company?” I ask him.

“I believe in our mission, but I’m tired and beaten down right now. It’s tough to keep picking yourself up after every defeat,” he says.

“That’s one of your problems,” I tell him.

Your actions can only do so much, your thoughts are the real drivers for change.

Our thoughts are so powerful. Our minds can move mountains if we actually focus our energy into visualizing the success we’re trying to achieve. It’s human nature to rely solely on action to bring about change. But in reality, action is never enough. There is only so much one can do to effect change. Action without a supportive thought behind it goes nowhere.

“You can work yourself into the ground six days a week, it doesn’t mean you’ll become a success. Success is not contingent upon action alone.” I tell him. “Your thoughts have to support the actions you are taking or the outcome will continue to elude you.”

You have to believe in your ability to succeed or it’ll never happen.

“You can fool yourself, but you cannot fool the universe. You can take every action possible to be a success, but if you doubt yourself, or doubt the ability of your company to be successful, you are undermining your own efforts,” I tell him.

“So what needs to change? How do I work harder?” he asks.

You don’t work harder. You work smarter.

Smarter is learning to align your thoughts with your actions. If your actions don’t match up with your mindset, the thing you are working towards can’t possibly come to fruition. There’s no amount of action that will overcome your thought about the situation. So, in essence, it doesn’t matter what you do, what matters is what you think about what you are doing.

“So, you are telling me that my situation will change if I start thinking differently?” he asks.

“I’m telling you that success will be yours if you can align positive thoughts of being successful with the actions you are taking to create that success. If you are fearful or doubtful of having success, it won’t matter what you do, you’ll never have it.”

“But I do believe I’ll be a success, it’s just that it hasn’t happened yet,” he says.

“No. It’s not happening because your focus is on the fact that it hasn’t happened yet. That’s your second problem,” I say.

Your attention to “what is” keeps you locked there, your attention to “what could be” brings you there.   

“The only thing that is holding you back is your attention to what is not happening,” I tell him. “When you focus on the lack of success you are facing, your attention to that lack of success mirrors back to you more lack of success. That’s because you get what you focus on, and right now you are focusing on not being a success.” I tell him.

“So how do you suggest I change that? Right now my reality is that my company is not succeeding.”

Fake it ’til you make it.

In reality, it doesn’t really matter what is happening in this moment, what matters is what you think about what is happening.

“So if what is happening right now isn’t pleasing you, change your thought about it. Replace that thought with a thought that makes you feel more empowered, more successful. Even if it isn’t necessarily true, feed that thought and in time it will become your truth. It has to be.”

“You mean lie to myself?” he asks.

“No, I mean create a new reality for yourself,” I reply. “You are in charge of how you think and your thoughts are what create your reality. So logic dictates that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”

You may not always be able to control everything that happens to you, but you can always control the way it affects you and that’s inevitably what will become real for you.

What they don’t teach us in business school is that action alone will never give you the results you are seeking. Align your thoughts with your actions and the road to success will naturally be yours.

Based in New York City, Donnalynn is the Author of “Life Lessons, Everything You Ever Wished You Had Learned in Kindergarten.” She is also a Certified Intuitive Life Coach, Inspirational Blogger (, writer and speaker. Her work has been featured in Glamour, the iHeart Radio Network and Princeton Television. Her website is You can follower her on TwitterInstagramLinkedIn,  Facebook and Google+.

The Secret to Success Business School Doesn’t Teach