What makes the difference between ordinary and extraordinary, between average and excellent, mediocre and superb? Is it family background? Are achievers born into wealth? Do some people have better opportunities than others?

Opportunity is a strange thing because two people with similar gifts, talents and resources can look at a situation and one person will see tremendous opportunity while the other is negative and skeptical. One man's junk is another man's jewel. Opportunity is like beauty — it's in the eye of the beholder.

Is achievement gained because of hardship or because of lack of hardship? Is it high morals or how about a great education? Perhaps here is the great secret: I believe it is none of these items.

The line that separates those who achieve from those who don't is different perceptions and responses to what many people consider failure. Nothing else has such a dramatic impact on people's ability to achieve and to accomplish their goals.

There are literally thousands of ways to become a winner and the sure way I know of to stay average is to fail and not investigate what you've gained from the apparent failure. Through trial and error, I eventually taught myself how to view, what most people say is failure, differently. I taught myself that everything happens for a reason.

When a situation or a circumstance happens and it doesn't appear favorably for me at that moment, I've learned to detach and pull back, instead of over-reacting to the circumstances. By detaching, I'm talking about stepping back and accepting that there are many situations you cannot change but you can definitely change how you view them, especially related to what most people perceive to be failure.

I ask people all the time who say they've failed, I say, "Have you really? Did you really fail?" Then I ask them the next question — "What did you gain, who did you meet, how did it develop character, what happened because of the situation?"

I thoroughly believe that for every door that closes, a window opens. Let's look at networking, direct sales and entrepreneurship. Now this industry has the potential to completely set you free provided you learn the thoughts, actions and simple disciplines applied or required for you to become successful. I've seen many average people who've never had success in any other endeavors have fantastic success in direct sales, networking or in any kind of small business. I've also seen many people who've success in a corporate environment fail miserably as an entrepreneur.

To a large extent, the reason the failure rate is so high in free enterprise is that we as a society are not prepared and not mentally conditioned to deal with the inevitable emotional roller coaster of entrepreneurship. We are taught through education, training, college, other schooling and on the job training to become good employees. We end up learning job skills, not the free-thinking skills that lead to success as an entrepreneur. Most of all we are not taught how to look at our mistakes and failures properly.

I have personally attended hundreds of seminars, rallies and conventions over the last several years and have heard the stories and testimonies of people who have succeeded. It often looks easy from the audience's perspective to make a $10,000 per month check or have a $100,000 per year. I remember in my early career, seeing these people and saying to myself, "If they can do it, so can I." They are no different. That was true, except the difference between them and me was a few key points that I had to learn in the journey.

Skills such as developing a belief, understanding how to market myself, how to be consistent, how to be self-motivated over time to create what is called "compounding". Internal compounding is going to be the difference between average and exceptional. Internal compounding really begins with you becoming comfortable with yourself, becoming the person you deserve to be, really having a belief in yourself, a sense of certainty that no matter what obstacles, what challenges, what hurdles arrive in your way, you begin to turn these roadblocks into building blocks.

You're going to learn a different perception of challenges and how to overcome them right now. Most important, with simple disciplines, learned, acquired and then diligently and consistently applied over a period of time, you start to release yourself from the attachment of what most people consider to be failure. Personal growth coupled with a plan of action. Diligent and consistent action to produce results not only in yourself, but with others, too. The heart of a champion is developing heart rather than just relying on your talent.

Do not compare yourself to others. You never know the price someone has paid to get to their promised land, and they did pay it at one time or another. Even the statement, "paying the price" is unusual. A good friend and motivational speaker once said to me, "Jeff, it's not a price, it's a privilege." Indeed, my friends, that is a whole different perspective. Are you really paying a price or is it a privilege to be going through the process that you are going through? Most importantly, it is imperative that you start to view your past failures differently and change how you view challenges and obstacles that face you today and in the future.

One of the most common problems I see in free enterprise and entrepreneurship is that people quit too soon. They give up before barely getting started and go back to what already wasn't working for them, giving up on their dreams. I have found that if you don't have dreams, you end up working for people who do. Will you ever get your promised land, producing results for someone else in their dream?

Success isn't always easy, is it? And it's definitely not a sprint, it's a marathon. Most people quit in free enterprise in their first 90 days, six months or one year. This is a usual pattern; they don't stay in the game long enough to learn the survival skills required to win the game of their life. They dabble, they give it a shot, they try, they wish, they hope, they'd like to, they think about it, they take little action, get their feelings hurt, test the water and, most of all, treat it like a hobby, then it costs them enough money, so they quit and say, "It didn't work for me" or "I got burned."

Free enterprise is about going through mind shifts, evolutions of new consciousness, getting out of the box, off the sidelines, in the game, playing offense rather than defense, learning life skills, so that you can get paid what you are worth. It is the opportunity to win the game of life on your terms, in your time frame. Quitters never win and winners never quit. Winners learn how to fail more intelligently. Isn't it time you learned how to treat failure differently? Isn’t it time you changed how you've been changing?

Jeffery Combs is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, and author committed to assisting people with personal growth and development. He can be contacted online www.GoldenMastermind.com, or toll free 800-595-6632.