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,
My family, relationships, movement, nature, flexibility of mind, exploration of alternative perspectives & openness are central to my life.