In 2008 a young Conor McGregor was already the champion, he simply hadn’t taken the physical belt yet.

“My name is Conor McGregor and I’m a professional MMA fighter with a record of four and one. I’m an up and coming fighter and without a doubt you will see me on the UFC in the near future, without a doubt…My dream is to be world light weight champion in the UFC and have more money than I know what to do with. My goal is number 1 in MMA. I’m 100% confident that I will make it to the top and it will happen.”

Those were the words of a kid from Dublin with a record of four wins and one loss in mixed martial arts. The thing you have to understand about that mindset is that he wasn’t kidding. He wasn’t “faking it till he made it”. In his mind he deserved recognition and deserved the belt. It was just a matter of taking a seven year journey to actually materialize it.

There is something fascinating with that level of conviction. There is little doubt a person who believes and trusts in himself or herself beyond measure will reach their true potential, whatever that may be.

You very rarely find anyone at the proverbial top of the game without a level of confidence that borders on arrogance. It’s a requirement.

Small business owners, entrepreneurs and even athletes are all too often in fear of being uncovered as a fraud. The doubts linger.

Questions begin to take over: What if I don’t accomplish the things I say I will? What if I don’t have it in me? What if my idea flops? What if people find out I am just starting out? What if? What if? What if?

Validation can kill a dream. The majorities desperately seek it out in an effort to ease the mind and cover the fear with security.

For someone like Conor McGregor it would have been far less risky to wait until he was closer to the physical reality. It would have been easier to wait until he had maybe sixteen wins under his belt, a contract with the UFC and the possibility of a title fight within reach before elaborating on his unwavering confidence in his ability to accomplish total domination and financial abundance beyond measure.

The same mentality can be found throughout history in the spirit of human beings who simply believe they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to. These are people unafraid of the critics and without a need for validation from outsiders. They are taking a ride and you can get with them or get the hell out.

Everyone and every business that rises to the top must take a first step. There’s a moment when one looks at the odds, history, competition and the whispers of doubt and they step into the void with a certainty of victory only they can justify.

They are not waiting to “prove” they are the best or that they are remarkably gifted at what they do. Instead they declare it.

They aren’t waiting to achieve some level of success or reach a certain milestone before feeling worthy of it. In the mind of a champion, the finished product or destination is not an “if”, but a “when”. Much like driving to meet up with a friend; there is no question in your mind that you will arrive, regardless of the traffic conditions or route changes required to get there. In your mind, there is zero doubt that you will indeed arrive.

Why has Conor Mcgregor received so much attention in such a short period of time as a UFC fighter? Why did his notoriety rise to unprecedented levels while the voice of others with more UFC experience and far more previous exposure was a quiet whisper?

He wasn’t waiting for validation. Conor wasn’t looking for approval or some pre-determined set of circumstances to declare his expertise. The destination was pre-determined, now it was a matter of time.

When you carry yourself with that level of confidence people take notice. They have to. It’s so unusual that people will quickly decide whether to root for or against you, because there is no neutral. One thing is for sure – they have to take notice.

Entrepreneurs and small businesses often seek out validation in order to justify, and prove, their own worth amongst peers. They wait in the shadows carefully navigating the world of fake-it-till-you-make-it fearing the possibility of being uncovered as a fraud. It’s a balance required by people unsure of themselves who want to fit in without risking the chance of taking it on the chin in front of a sold out crowd.

We’ve heard luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. If you are prepared, then unwavering confidence can draw opportunities in at an accelerated speed helping you get lucky an previously unheard of speeds. That’s what happened to The Notorious One.

The idea of faking it till you make it is a veneer often put on by people unsure of themselves. The belief that faking it will eventually lead to not having to fake it. The reality for champions and emerging market leaders is they never really fake anything. To an outsider the confidence may fit their definition of faking it, but to someone like Conor McGregor or any entrepreneur who wakes up clearly seeing themselves arriving even just a few miles into what could be a long, bumpy ride there is no faking anything. There is only a belief that regardless of the changes in route or obstacles along the way, they will arrive.

There are many entrepreneurs I know who are far superior at their particular craft than the guy or gal often taking center stage at major conferences. To some, the idea of sharing this belief and asking to take part, be granted a spot on that same stage, get involved, be interviewed, put on a workshop or otherwise shine a light on the truth in their ability is something that will have to wait until their worth is validated in some way.

They fear being exposed for lacking the history, revenue numbers, roster of clients or any number of measurement they’ve determined will prove they are indeed worthy of the acknowledgement and praise.

While the waiting continues someone who has already arrived in their mind, who has an unwavering belief in herself yet has only taken a few steps on what may be a long journey to the destination will rise up and say “I didn’t come here to take part, I came to take over.”

In business, just as in the arena of sports, sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and let everyone know you are not faking anything. Let them know they can choose to take notice now or later, but take notice they will. And that requires an authentic belief in your skills, your vision and your ability to reach a destination often only seen through your own eyes.

A young Michael Jordan was asked in an interview if he thought anyone could stop him. He responded by saying when he’s healthy he doesn’t believe there is anyone who can stop him. He pauses and says, “You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.”

To rise to the top you’ll have to make some noise, not wait for the noise to rise up for you. If you are great at what you do, if you have a seemingly unrealistic vision that is perfectly realistic to you, if you know you can help or you know you can lead, if you believe you have the best product or provide an experience, service, or solution that can make a positive impact then there is no need to sit idly by and wait for validation.

If that’s you, then don’t wait for someone else to give you permission; go out and tell the world you’ve arrived, even if your final destination is miles away.

Who knows, maybe that championship belt isn’t as far out of reach after all, if you truly believe.

Read more: