Mark Cuban owns a variety of companies, including the Dallas Mavericks. He's a star on Shark Tank. He's an outstanding salesperson, and feels knowing how to sell is an all-important skill. He hates meetings, unless someone is writing him a check. He's a really nice guy

And oh, yeah: He's worth an estimated $4 billion.

Which might lead you to think Cuban has somehow discovered the "secret" to success. 

So what does Cuban feel is the key to business success?

That's why I love business -- because it's effort and ability. You can work on the ability side. You can work on the effort side. And accomplish anything.

Success Is Only Inevitable in Hindsight

Hear just about any story about successful people and you might walk away thinking they have some special "something" that you do not. Intelligence. Talent. Education. Connections.

But that's rarely the case. While it's easy to look back on a path to success and assume that every vision was clear, every plan was perfect, every step was executed flawlessly, that incredible success was a foregone conclusion, it never is.

Success is never guaranteed. Only in hindsight does it appear that way.

If you're willing to put in the time and effort to improve your skills, improve your knowledge, gain experience, build relationships, and become the person you want to be, who you are today is more than enough to become who you want to be tomorrow. 

Effort + Time = Ability

Improving ability is almost always a simple matter of effort and time. Put in the right kind of effort, over a sufficient amount of time, and you will gain skill. You will gain knowledge. You will gain ability.

Put in the right kind of effort -- focused learning, focused practice, etc. -- and improvement is basically inevitable.

To many that thought might sound daunting, especially since "hacking" success is extremely popular, but it's actually incredibly empowering. Most people don't start because they aren't sure of the outcome. Embracing the fact that effort + time = ability really will lead to an almost guaranteed payoff makes it easy to start.

Effort + Time = Motivation

And it gets better: Motivation is a natural outcome of the incredibly virtuous cycle that starts with effort.

Effort -- again, the right kind of effort -- leads to improvement, however small. Improvement makes you feel good: It always, always, always feels good to improve. Feeling good about yourself provides small doses of motivation, just enough to get you to put in the effort and time tomorrow, all of which creates a virtuous cycle that results in an endless source of motivation.

You only need to do the right things -- because doing the right things allows you to improve.

So do this: Pick something you've always wanted to do. Pick something you've always wanted to achieve. 

Then create a process that guarantees a series of small improvements. Usually that means that what you do won't be that different from what other successful people do, so choose someone who has achieved what you want to achieve. Deconstruct his or her process. Then follow it.

Along the way you might make small corrections as you learn what works best for you, but never start by doing what you want to do, or what feels good, or what you think might work.

Commit to doing what has been proved to work.

Then commit to following the two-week rule: Commit to following your process for two weeks, no matter what. Give yourself two weeks and you'll definitely see progress. You'll definitely see improvement. And you'll start your own virtuous cycle of effort = success = motivation = more effort.

Just make sure you keep your head down and focus only on what you're supposed to do today. Don't think about next week or next month. Don't think about how many more miles you have to run or how many more classes you have to take or how many more sales you have to make. Keep your head down and focus on what you're supposed to do today.

Do that, and you'll end the day feeling satisfied and fulfilled. String enough of those days together, and that's how you build a business.

Or change careers. Or run a marathon. Or get a degree. Or achieve anything worthwhile.

Because, as Cuban says, success really is mostly just a matter of effort and time.

Start putting your effort and time into the things that truly matter.

To you.