The 4 C’s of Growth and Breakthrough.

A Concept by US Army Veteran Dan Sullivan.

4 minute read

Written by Andrew Flessa Leadership and Mindset Expert

#commitment #courage #capability #confidence

Achieving success in life or work usually comes with “working hard” and putting yourself “out there.” But these words are a little vague and sometimes hard to take action on. The psychology of making breakthroughs occur needs to be observed at a more granular level.

The 4 C’s

This simple formula that anyone can learn in a few minutes has to do with making real progress, in other words having a future that’s bigger and better than where you are right now.

We all have goals and we often envision those goals and what that breakthrough would mean for our life.

We have visions of ourselves in the future, and we can see a higher level of performance somewhere beyond the horizon. Many people can’t turn those visions into their new reality because they get caught up in thinking they need the confidence to do so first.

In the 4 C’s system, confidence is the fruit that is embodied in the last step, the fourth step. That’s where most people naturally start – thinking they need confidence to make change first, no wonder so many people in the personal development community spin their wheels.

You see, people in general want a guarantee of something before they’ll actually take action. They say, “when I have the confidence I will move forward,” but new confidence is the reward for completing the breakthrough. It doesn’t come first. Then people drift toward thinking capability is their answer to facilitating a breakthrough, however, that doesn’t come first either.

The First Step is Commitment

You have to commit to the change. Commitment means you have sectioned off the time needed, you have put up your own resources, you have given up your favorite hobbies, and in some way, you have burned your boats and committed to the change.

Nothing happens without that initial commitment of seeing the goal to the end. Get clear on why sticking to the end result matters to you. That’s your perspective, that’s your why. That’s the foundation of the entire breakthrough.

“Success tends to bless those who are most committed to giving it the most attention.” -Grant Cardone

The Second Step is Courage 

Courage is when you experience fear, discomfort, and uncertainty but you continue to trudge forward anyways. Your depth of commitment holds you in this crucial space of courage. Courage isn’t fun, but it’s what’s required to continue to push through the comfort zone and into the growth zone.

The comfort zone is the paradigm of the everyday habits that you are used to. Continuing to push through this stage of discomfort is essential to gaining new capability. Just like anything else, you get better with practice and you will probably stink at first. Accept that and keep trying without judging yourself.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu

The Third Step is Capability

It’s actually the combination of commitment and courage that creates new capability. Capability is not given to you from the outside. Capability is created from the inside through novel learning.

So again, the willingness to move forward before you have a guarantee and the willingness to continue to move forward despite the pain is how you reach new capability.

“A mind that is stretched by new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Fourth Step is Confidence

Confidence feels great, and it’s the reward for sticking to your why through the first 3 steps.

The key point is: it’s easy to think that you need confidence before you can take action, but that thinking is like trying to run a sprint without first tying your shoes.

Think back to when you were a kid. After you committed to learning how to tie your shoes you stuck with it until you had the capability despite the initial difficulty. When your shoes finally were tied you had all the confidence in the world to go out on the playground and run like the wind.

Confidence = comfortable; ready to perform.


No matter what age you are, there is no other way to grow as a human being except to go through these 4 C’s.

This is how you go from imagining a bigger and better future to actually being able to actualize it and bring it into reality. Each time you go through the 4 C’s you can start back at the beginning with bigger commitments.

Each of the steps plays off of the other and all 4 are needed to be able to taste the sweet fruit of confidence.

This is a basic approach to how everyone grows and creates new breakthroughs in their lives.

Keep these 4 steps at the top of your mind because they will serve you at any age and at in any endeavor you wish to embark upon.

Level up.

To learn more about the 4 C’s check out this video by Dan Sullivan