If the latest brain research is correct, success doesn’t hinge upon how smart, pretty or rich you are. In fact, you may be far better off with a healthy dose of dedication and a positive attitude — the number-one predictors of achievement.

Both Angela Lee Duckworth’s recent TEDtalk and Paul Tough’s new book How Children Succeed tout “grit” as the common character trait of successful people. If life is a contest, the most committed are primed to win.

According to Tough, your odds of success are greatest if you possess “perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control.” He claims that even kids with disadvantages early in life can grow into accomplished adults if they have these characteristics, and that these traits flourish with encouragement from parents and teachers.

So what does this mean? If you’re still telling yourself that your IQ is too low or your skills are too poor to accomplish your dreams, stop that right now. With a helping of effort and the right attitude, you can do better than someone with stronger skills but less gumption.

These findings also mean we aren’t doing our children (or fellow adults) a service by telling them they aren’t good enough or qualified enough to be a leader, inventor or innovator. Instead, we should be building each other up, setting the stage for excellence.

And on a personal level, it would behoove us all to quit the self-deprecating thoughts and words, and work toward believing in ourselves and pushing harder in the direction of our dreams — not just for financial aims, but for personal fulfillment. A little “Yes, I can” could go a long way.

Image: nikki g