Weeks ago, I borrowed three bags of books from the personal library of one of my brothers, including: Buddhism and Psychotherapy, After the Affair, The Future of Love, Emotions and The Wisdom of the Enneagram. Not light reading!
I also ordered myself a few books through Amazon – treats for a long-time library-goer.
One purchase was The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. The cover shows a confident man with a perfect tan and teeth, who appears to be saying, "read this book and learn how to become rich, successful, powerful and fulfilled like me.”
Because I'm in a line of work where helping people get from where they are to where they want to be, I figured someone who has had seven books to date on the New York Times Bestseller list must know something about success.
The thesis of Canfield’s book: Once you decide what you want, you can have it. You just have to adopt the underlying principles and techniques he outlines over 552 pages, and work hard within that framework. A key principle is that we must take 100% personal responsibility for our lives, even when the circumstances are difficult.
100% responsibility means not blaming others for parts of our lives we don't like
“This means having to give up all your excuses, all your victim stories, all the reasons why you can't and why you haven't up until now, and all your blaming of outside circumstances. You have to give them all up forever,” Canfield writes.
Ouch! But I agree. Even if there are a few people you could easily blame and complain about, it is a waste of time. There is no benefit to blame. It leaves you angry and resentful and leads to many self-defeating thoughts and behaviours.
Two other principles Canfield stresses are 1) being clear on why you are here and 2) deciding what you want to be. It's hard to disagree with the premise that certainty and clarity serve as excellent organizing principles for the pursuit of success. If you have a vision it's a lot easier to move towards its fulfillment – less chance of being sidetracked, drifting, or wasting time.
Canfield writes often about unleashing the power of goal setting to realize your vision. From writing down your goals in great detail, to reading them daily, to being accountable to another person for their realization – goal setting is fundamental to getting ahead.
Again, you can’t argue with this strategy for making good things happen. The underlying assumption seems to be that working hard and doing well not only bring success but happiness.
The Success Principles have worked for Canfield and for many other impressive people who came from nothing and were able to create great wealth for themselves and others.
But it seems like more work (552 pages) than some of us might be willing to invest in ourselves!
Here is an alternate view – the lazy person’s road to success (1 page at best)
Instead of a big vision you focus on a small one.
Instead of being a super achiever concentrate on a few areas that, with a few changes and tweaks, could make you significantly happier. For example, the rewards of saving so you worry less about money, investing effort in better relationships, seeking a more fulfilling job, or taking up a hobby. Experiencing gratitude. More exercise and a better diet.
Instead of adopting a heightened sense of personal purpose and working through goals in a systematic way, start by having higher expectations for yourself than you have now.
Commit to meeting these expectations, then exceed a few. Instead of reaching for the stars or for what feels beyond your grasp, start where you are right now:
And take 100% personal responsibility for your life – Jack Canfield is 100% right!
Successfully and somewhat lazily yours,
6/3/2016 10:59:22 am
That seems to me the right way of going about it . Many people who have written books on how to achieve success have simply grown rich from their book sales , and have been merchants of illusion rather than springs of wisdom . Clarity of mind is not ( to my mind ! ) a principle , organizing or other , but an attainment , somewhat elusive but open to everyone if you work steadily , and somewhat lazily , towards it !
7/3/2016 07:16:57 am
Hughes, I agree that clarity is attainable and elusive but do you disagree that a quality of being clear (clarity) in one's heart and mind does serve as a central reference point (organizing principle) for how one lives each day? Merci, Minda
6/3/2016 01:22:33 pm
How opportune this synopsis of how to cultivate success! Inspiring!
7/3/2016 07:19:28 am
I suppose how we each define success is key in this discussion. Glad you are inspired and thank you again for comments and for sharing Cliff!
6/3/2016 01:38:29 pm
Minda, you are very wise and witty on this important topic. As Hughes Sirgent points out, we are easy prey for the "merchants of illusion." And your implicit critique of Canfield is most timely, as Cliff Yerex comments. We are seeing the damaging social consequences of an ideology of "success" based on grandiosity all the time nowadays -- especially in the Republican presidential primaries! "Unleash your inner giant" usually means "manipulate, deceive, and if necessary, step on other people."
7/3/2016 07:35:36 am
Wise and witty - now that is my definition of success!
20/3/2016 11:27:37 pm
Like all of your posts, Coach Minda, much to learn from. I wish to take an ever so slightly contrary view or perhaps just an additional view. Which is that figuring out when to take responsibility and (blame yourself) and when to realize something is out of your control is very important to happiness. I think there is a famous saying to the effect of only focus on that which you can control. I think it is important to be humble about our successes - often luck and circumstance is critical and also not to overly blame ourselves (as many do) when we fail, because perhaps it was circumstance and things were unfair. I think it is important to always look for one's role in things and what one can do better but also to have a realistic map of what is due to oneself and what to the world..Not sure how it all fits in but thanks for the stimulation Coach
21/3/2016 11:28:16 am
I agree wholeheartedly with your comment. Thank you Mitchell for this addition.
25/5/2016 07:26:12 am
It is the best post describing the difference between hard work and lazy ways to success.Thanks for sharing this post.
2/6/2016 10:48:27 am
Well thank you!
1/6/2016 02:14:47 pm
Loved this topic. Personally, I've achieved my dream life. It wasn't riches or material things but it did take some money. Most important though was making the right choices in life....for me. Didn't listen to what people said because they always said I was wrong or nuts. But here I am living how I envisioned my self living for basically my entire life. So it worked. Just keep focused on the dream and make choices to get you there.
2/6/2016 10:52:14 am
5/6/2016 02:08:37 pm
It's a funny thing. For many years I tried to figure out what I wanted or should be doing because serving tables and bartending just seemed like a temporary job. I retired at 55 years of age. What happened was I just couldn't see the forest for the trees. That was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was good at it and excelled in it. It allowed me the lifestyle I wanted, the flexibility and the money. I was my own worst enemy so to speak. I just needed to relax about the perspective it brought. People may have looked at me as a bit of a loser but I started to look at myself as an entrepreneur. Where I worked was my own small business. My tables, my bar stools. Make the best of it. Enjoy it. So I did. Life sometimes makes you look behind the superficial to see what really matters.
29/9/2018 01:06:59 pm
I agree Minda. There needs to be a personal value to the things that motivate us. I participated in a seminar on the weekend about the needs of gifted adults and the ways in which even people with huge potential struggle. A piece of good counsel that was offered adds, I think, to what you say above Minda.
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