Whether You Think You Can or Think You Can’t — You’re Probably Right

Henry Ford’s famous quote was spot-on: Self-belief is an essential ingredient for success

Darius Foroux
Published in
4 min readAug 12, 2019


Credit: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Let’s be honest, you have to be a little self-deluding to believe you can succeed in life.

Unless you’re born into wealth, all the odds are against you. With pretty much every important thing we try to achieve, the chances of failure outweigh the chances of success.

Take building a successful career. In any given field, there are only a handful of people at the top. Now, you don’t necessarily have to reach the top to be successful. But in most fields, success of any sort is a hard needle to thread, and only a minority of people truly achieve it. In sports, the odds are even worse. Out of all the players and teams, there’s only one winner.

So if you’re a realistic person, you might look at your odds of winning and feel discouraged. Here’s the thing: You can’t let that hold you back.

Too often, we set out to achieve something but don’t believe we can do it. As a result, we don’t even start. And we all know what happens if we don’t start: There will be no success whatsoever.

To be clear, when I talk about success, I’m not talking about monetary success. Doing a meaningful job, surrounded by the people you love, and satisfied with the quality of your life in general. That’s success .

Belief + effort

Albert-László Barabási, a professor at Northeastern University and the author of The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success, found that self-belief plays a major role in succeeding in life.

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, or use their brand-name education to open doors, and that’s what makes them successful in the long-term.

Turns out that self-belief, the confidence to apply to a great school, matters more than the school you went to.



Darius Foroux
Writer for

I write about personal finance, productivity, habits. Join over 100K readers who get my newsletter, Wise & Wealthy: dariusforoux.com