The Secret Code of Success

I had just gotten off the stage at a major marketing conference when the founder of a nationally known software company (you’ve seen their commercials on TV) came up and said something that stopped me in my tracks:

“Noah, one thing you just said on stage changed my life. I never realized that I’ve been living my life with one foot on the brake. And if I just get my foot off the brake, I’ll be much more successful.”

He told me that his company had been “stuck” at $4 million a year for the previous four years. (My first thought was: “Gee, a lot of people would like to be ’stuck’ at $4 million!”) He asked if I would coach him on how to stop holding himself back from success. Since I’ve been doing that for companies and individuals since 1997, I said “Sure.”

What I coached him in is what I call it The Secret Code of Success. I call it a “Secret Code” because even the people using it don’t know what they’re doing!

It’s like asking Tiger Woods to explain how he got so mentally tough or Bill Gates to tell you how he made so much money. These highly successful people do certain things that they’re totally unaware of, because they are unconsciously competent at allowing themselves to succeed. They might be able to tell you some of the steps they took to get there – but because they’re unconsciously competent at letting themselves succeed, there will always be something missing in their explanation.

Let me explain what I mean by “unconsciously competent.”

To become unconsciously competent at any skill, you go through four levels:

  • Unconscious incompetence – when you don’t know that you don’t know how to do it
  • Conscious incompetence – when you know that you don’t know how to do it
  • Conscious competence – when you know that you know how to do it
  • Unconscious competence – when you do it without any conscious thought

Happy, wealthy people – whom I call the Naturals – are highly successful for the precise reason that they are unconsciously competent at allowing themselves to succeed.

Which brings us back to our software entrepreneur. When I walked him through what the Naturals are doing (without being consciously aware of it), he began to understand why, even though he’d spent a lot of time and money taking “how to succeed” programs, he couldn’t move forward.

Here are the three essential steps he took to get his foot off the brake:

1. Show appreciation for those who have made a difference in your life.

Human beings are starving for attention, appreciation, and acknowledgement. Research has shown that people will do more for acknowledgement than for money, because appreciation is the true currency of human interaction.

There are dozens of ways to acknowledge the people in your life, but what it really comes down to is your willingness to do so. That’s because everyone is wearing an invisible sign that says “Please make me feel important.” The problem is, you’re wearing that sign too!

If you become that one person in a million who is willing to make others feel important first, you’ll see an amazing turnaround in your relationships… just like our entrepreneur did.

2. Become aware of the ways you’re holding yourself back at the same time as you’re pushing yourself forward.

When I’m on stage and explain that most people are driving down the road of life with one foot on the brake, many in my audience tell me it never occurred to them that they could be stopping themselves at the same time as they’re driving forward.

This happens because the Why-To’s of Success are conscious, but the Why-Not-To’s of Success are subconscious. Everyone has reasons to want to succeed. (Those are the Why-To’s.) At the same time, most of us have hidden reasons for holding ourselves back. (Those are the Why-Not-To’s.) What made this concept truly life-changing for our entrepreneur (and for thousands of others who’ve learned The Code) was understanding that:

• Because they’re subconscious, your Why-Not-To’s of Success are hidden even from you. No one gets up in the morning and says, “I think I’ll hold myself back from success today!”

• The Naturals of Success have eliminated their Why-Not-To’s of Success. But because they’ve never had their own foot on the brake, they can’t possibly tell someone else how to get it off. That’s why there’s always something missing when they try to explain their “secrets of success.”

3. Realize the benefit of regular mentoring to achieve your goals.

While the rest of us often feel adrift and alone, the Naturals either always had, or unconsciously created, Systems of Support that allowed them to reach their goals faster, easier, and with less effort.

Having that kind of support made all the difference in the Naturals’ lives, and it can make a big difference in your life, too. One way to get the support you need to succeed is to find a mentor or coach who:

  • Understands and believes in you
  • Doesn’t make you feel wrong for wanting what you want
  • Gives you solid, doable action steps to reach your goals

Before our software entrepreneur heard me speak on stage, his company had been “stuck” at $4 million a year for the previous four years. But because he knew he was capable of much more, it was just as frustrating for him as it would be for someone making much less.

With just 90 days of coaching in The Code,he learned how to take his foot off the brake. His company’s revenues exploded from $4 million to $40 million in less than a year.

And now, every time I see his commercials on TV, I smile. Because his success is just one more example of what can happen when you take your foot off the brake.

[Ed. Note: Noah St. John, PhD, is the author of The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness and founder of He helps people get rid of the head trash that’s holding them back and enjoy more wealth, freedom, and abundance in life. For a free book excerpt, visit]

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