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The Four Pillars of Success

Intent: Determine what you specifically want.

Vision: See it clearly and brightly.

Action: Write down a plan and actively follow it.

Clarity: Maintaining focus and connection to your plan.

The Four Pillars of Success is a system I have been using for over a decade to create my own success and the success of my clients. Having refined and enhanced it throughout the years, I know it is the most practical and solid way to establish, visualize, and reach your goals. The four pillars are the base of success.


Define your intent. What do you want? People are so used to talking about what they don’t want, but that isn’t helpful when it comes to forward progress. What you need to establish is a clear, defined goal or destination.

When you establish your intent, do it slowly. It is important that your intent is specific.

Much like the choosing a specific destination on a map, being specific with your intent will facilitate your ability to map out the roads you will take and the means in which you will arrive. Not knowing the specific destination will lead to time loss and frustration. If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?


Vision is crucial because it is how you ground your intent. It’s how you bring a dream into the realm of the real. If you have a goal, you need to be able to see yourself as having achieved that goal. It has to be something you are able to see yourself doing it. Some of the greatest athletes of all time will tell you: “By the time you saw me run the race I had already run it in my mind a thousand times.” They have already visualized what they intend to do, and that is what makes it real.

Think about the kind of house you want to live in and see yourself there. Some people can visualize themselves mowing the lawn or painting the walls, or opening the back door to see their spouse and kids playing together on the swings in the backyard. They visualize every detail because there’s no way you’ll convince them this isn’t happening.

When you visualize your goal, visualize yourself as if it were true. Take some time to create your vision. I know in this day and age, it’s hard to get in touch with your thoughts, with the TV and the Internet and all the activity of your life getting between you and your thoughts. But you have to take the time to sit with your thoughts and create your vision. See it as real; be it as if it were real.


This pillar has two parts; writing it down, and taking physical action. At this point, you know your intent. You’ve created your vision. Time to create the blueprint or map and get to work!

What you write down must be detailed, just like a blueprint for a house - or even a map for getting to somewhere specific. Think of it. Could you imagine engineers attempting to build a structure without a blueprint? Or how about if you get invited to a home where you haven’t been before, would you just get in the car and will yourself to end up there? Of course not. That’s totally ridiculous. You find out where they live and you write it down. Then you base how you’re going to get there by seeing where you are, and drawing a course of direction from there. Achieving your goals is exactly the same.

Are you really going to get into the vehicle of your life and start driving around without a map? It’s time to use these pillars and start living with direction and focus.


Once you’ve made your plan, the biggest challenge is going to be to get up off your butt and go through with it. Clarity is the key to staying on point and dedicated to your journey. Clarity is vital to the nourishment of your living goals. The lack of clarity is food for failure. Many people give up on their goals simply because the clarity of the vision is lost. That is why it is vital to have a specific intent and a clear vision. A plan that is written from a clear vision is easy to refer back to and to maintain clarity with. Just like referring back to a roadmap when you are traveling, your own success map will provide the information you need and the clarity to finish successfully.

Using the Four Pillars of Success:

There was an abandoned lot of land for years in my home town. Every day I would drive by this patch of land that no one seemed to use or care anything about. But one day, a sign went up, and on this sign was a huge vibrant picture of a beautiful shopping center depicted in amazing detail. In this picture, not only could you see the shopping center, the display windows, and the names of the stores, but you could see the lights, the parking lot lined with spaces and even birds were depicted flying gracefully above this amazing idea. In what was a seemingly uncared for piece of land now sat this amazing picture, and underneath the picture, a sign with two words: “Coming Soon.”

I continued to drive by this lot and noticed the advances of each day. A giant hole was dug for a foundation and soon a framework began to sprout. Each day there dozens of workers toiling, steel, heavy machinery and countless stacks of materials dedicated to bringing this picture to life. And of course, every day it became more and more like the picture that still sat in front of it.

Then one day I drove by and the machines and the materials and the workers were gone, but what remained was the picture of the shopping center as it was intended to be - and behind it, the shopping center as it had become. This beautiful shopping center that I had only seen in a picture was there in front of me and it was even more beautiful than the picture. It was huge and everything in detail just like the sign had shared.

As I looked in appreciation of this accomplishment, I thought to myself, “That’s the Four Pillars of Success” in action.

Let’s break it down:

Intent. The landowner had a specific intent. Not, “I want to make more money.” But specific: “I want to build a shopping center on this piece of land.” So he hired an architect, an engineer, and together they developed a vision.

Vision. Their vision was so clear, they were able to share it with everyone else on the sign that they created. Then what did they do? They took action.

Action. Blueprints were created of every stage and how everything was going to happen and when. They knew every stage from those blueprints, the dimensions, the materials, and the progress. As the workers followed the blueprints, they did so with complete clarity.

Clarity. If a shipment was late, if it rained or snowed more than it was supposed to, if a machine broke-they continued towards their original purpose, and in doing so, they made the picture that hung over a vacant lot a spectacular reality. They were able to stay focused and maintain their clarity because they were able to look back on the detailed blueprint.

Now that’s the Four Pillars of Success in action! Follow this system and you can’t fail. This isn’t magic; this is a well-based and time-tested foundation of success. Stop just cheering for others who are living their visions. Commit yourself to your own success and follow the steps required to achieve it. Today is a new day. It’s your day. Make it a day in which you build on these four pillars.

Steve Maraboli

"Life, the Truth, and Being Free"


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