Unless you’re born into wealth, all the odds are against you. Most people let life happen to them. Depression is at an all-time high, obesity has become more common, people are sitting at home with burnouts, etcetera.

Life is not easy —we all know that, however: If you don’t start with believing in yourself, you’ll never start at all. And if you don’t start, there will be no success whatsoever. That’s the power of ambition.

Albert-László Barabási, a professor at Northeastern University, and the author of The Formula, studied the laws of success. He found that ambition plays a major role in success. For example, Barabási’s research shows that students don’t excel because of the school they attend.

Often, we assume that people who went to a university like Harvard become high achievers because of their education. We think that Ivy League graduates somehow get different training and that’s what makes them successful on the long-term.

That’s a wrong assumption. In The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success, Barabási’s:

“The single determinant of long-term success was derived from the best college a kid merely applied to, even if she didn’t get in. Meaning that if she applied to Harvard, got rejected, and went to Northeastern, her success was on a par with that of Harvard graduates who matched her SATs and high school grades.”

Put simply, ambition is what makes someone great, not the school they went

We both know that we don’t automatically become successful if we believe we will.

Belief by itself is not enough.

Your performance needs to back your beliefs; otherwise you’ll never get any tangible results.

Also, success remains complex. There are no roadmaps that guarantee anything. Success can be replicated. But that’s not the point we arebmaking here.

Ambition: Always Believe You Can Do Something

That’s our  point.

“When I decided that I could make something out of my life, I purposefully worked on making that possible” – Bill Gates

Yes, belief by itself is useless. But here’s the thing: The people who believe they can achieve their goals are the ones that actually do.

So make ambition your default. When you set a big goal for yourself, don’t automatically think, “I can never do that.” You have to be ambitious enough to actually set some big goals for yourself. Why would you settle for mediocrity? Believe!

Chidimma Nwakama