Jack Canfield (born August 19, 1944) is an American author, motivational speaker, corporate trainer, and entrepreneur. He is the author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which has more than 250 titles and 500 million copies in print in over 40 languages. Canfield also co-authored with Janet Switzer The Success Principles and How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.
In response to the question: “How much time do you waste with projects and activities that you really don’t want to do simply because you are uncomfortable saying no?” on his blog (jackcranfield.com), Canfield replied: “Success depends on getting good at saying no without feeling guilty. You cannot get ahead with your own goals if you are always saying yes to someone else’s projects. You can only get ahead with your desired lifestyle if you are focused on the things that will produce that lifestyle.”1
Success does not belong to a select few; success belongs to “you,” if you’re willing to go after it. Success is never handed out, you must take it, but you don’t take it by force. You take success by becoming a successful person internally. When you succeed on the inside, by taking on the thoughts of a successful person, the results will show on the outside. I want to share with you seven life-changing keys to success that I found. These concepts will alter your life if you implement them properly.
First, you cannot always go so easy that you are being extremely careful because you don’t want to mess up. There are times when you must dare yourself to try. As Dale Carnegie, an American writer, and lecturer and the developer of the famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills once said, “The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The ‘sure-thing’ boat never gets far from shore.”
So the question is, are you daring to do what other’s tell you is impossible? There should never be a time in your life when you’re not attempting something that looks impossible. It is the impossible that stretches you and shows you what you can become. So do and dare, get out of your comfort zone and stretch yourself. Stretch the amount of work you do, stretch your expectations, and stretch your imagination.
Another thing to consider is that you must be willing to double your “Failure Rate.” Thomas J. Watson, a pioneer in the development of accounting and computing equipment used today by businesses, government, science, and industry, who built a worldwide industry during his 42 years at IBM made this observation: “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”
So in other words, if you want to succeed you need to fail several times. No one succeeds with just a handful of failures. You won’t be the first person to succeed after only failing three times. You need to fail, and fail, and fail; failure is the path to success. That’s how you learned to walk as a child. It is through stumbling that you learn how to succeed. Your stumbles prepare you for success.
Then let’s look at how you use your willpower. Famous football coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi once told his players: “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”
Another word for “will” would be “desire.” To succeed you must desire to succeed more than you desire anything else. Successful people aren’t stronger than others, and they aren’t necessarily any more intelligent than others, but they have more desire than others. They have a burning desire to see their goal realized. Do you have that same burning desire? Without desire, you won’t have the motivation to accomplish your goal.
Speaking of sports icons, Mario Andretti, an Italian-born American former racing driver, and one of the most successful Americans in the history of that sport says that you need determination and commitment in order to succeed. Andretti, desire is the key to motivation, but it’s the determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal –a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.
So the question to ask yourself is this: are you determined enough to keep going no matter how many times you fail? One determined person will accomplish more than a thousand people who are just interested. You have to have the determination of a bulldog, not a bullhead. You have to latch on and refuse to let go. Desire, determination, and commitment will strategically position you to succeed.
This brings us to the understanding that excellence in doing what you do is a requirement. Charles Kendall Adams, professor, and historian who introduced the European seminar method to U.S. Universities made this point: “No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of them; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction.”
That means, if you are in business or trying to help others, are you providing excellent service? To be the best, you must provide the best service. You must give your customers what they can’t get from anywhere else. How good is your service? Can it be duplicated by just anybody? Is it excellent or only so-so? The answer will determine if you are out to win or just want to participate.
To go along with this in order to be successful, you must be propelled by a vision. James Allen, British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry and pioneer of the self-help movement taught that the vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart – this you will build your life on, and this you will become.
Another way of putting it, to succeed you must envision success. Only through visualizing success will you create the desire to make success a reality. You must have a clear vision of what you are about to achieve. This desire must consume you. If the desire consumes you, it will one day be realized.
And finally, you must go in search of success. Marva Collins, born in Monroeville, Alabama on August 31, 1936, became one of the most influential teachers and education activists of the 20th century. Working to gain equal access to quality education for African-American students, she started her own school in Chicago and founded a style of education that came to be known as the Collins Method. She told her students that success doesn’t come to you, you must go to it.
That means, success won’t fall in your lap; you have to go after it. You have to chase it down. You have to want it more than anything else. A lazy person won’t succeed, only those who are willing to work; those who are willing to “go for it.” So stop for a moment and think: are you willing to go in search of success? Do you have a clear vision, do you have a burning desire, are you willing to fail, if you are, you are well on your way to success.
Believe it or not, the Bible has much to say about this subject of success. As Moses was preparing the children of Israel for their conquering of the Promised Land he cautioned them never to say, “We can do this on our own.” Don’t brag that it was you alone who made all of this possible by your own ability and strength. Rather, you must never forget that it was God who brought you safe this far, He is the One who gave you the opportunity to be a success.2
When King David was ready to turn over the reigns of the kingdom to his son Solomon, he had some advice for this future king. In my paraphrase of the Psalms it reads this way: “The person who does not allow evil-minded people to influence their thinking; permit immoral individuals to dictate their lifestyle, or grant conceited groups sway over their attitude, can count their blessings. That’s why they delight in living by the teachings outlined in the Word of the LORD Eternal and recite those guidelines daily.”3
Solomon must have taken these words to heart, for in his Proverbs he told his people that they should never leave their plans up to others, bring them to the Lord, get His approval, and you will succeed in what you are planning to do for His honor, praise, and glory.4
Later on, when Isaiah was sent as God’s prophet to the people, the Lord had a message for them. He had Isaiah tell them that they were what they were and had done what they had done only because He took them by the hand and led them to where they are. In other words, they were His “chosen” people. So there was no reason now for them to despair just because things weren’t going the way they wanted them to. They should be encouraged by the fact that God was still leading them by His hand. This will give them all the strength they would need to be a success in His honor.5
The prophet Jeremiah who followed Isaiah, found himself and the people of God facing an even more menacing situation. But God told Jeremiah to share this word with them: Don’t depend on others to get you out of this mess, man’s arm is not as strong as God’s arm. Those who refuse to trust in God will be like a bush in the desert that lives in parched places in the wilderness where good things never grow. But the one who puts their trust in the Lord, and who places their confidence in His ability, will be like a tree planted by a fresh flowing stream that will feed its roots.6 Sounds like Jeremiah read David’s first Psalm.
So when Jesus the Messiah came to the descendants of these same people, He talked to them about putting their trust in Him as the One who came to rescue them. Not from the armies of Rome, but the evil spirits of Satan. But the only way they could be successful was to put their total trust in Him; bear whatever burden or hardship that may come their way. What good would it do if they sold the rights to their future to the devil? They would not only lose it but end up with nothing in return. But they were willing to sell out to Him, He would guarantee that they will not only get it back but with the eternal blessing of everlasting security as well.7
The Apostle Paul, the one whom Jesus called to be a messenger, not only to his own Jewish brothers and sisters but also to the heathen Gentiles who were lost without a Savior, told both the Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome to make a total and unconditional commitment to God, not only with their hearts, souls, and minds, but their abilities and talents as well. Be like a sacrifice on the altar that will end up living instead of dying. Don’t do things the way the ungodly do them, but let God mold you and make you into the vessel He wants to use through Holy Spirit. That will guarantee that they will discover the good and acceptable and perfect will of God that leads to success for His kingdom.8
Paul had a similar message for the believers in Philippi. He told them that instead of complaining all the time over what they didn’t have, start rejoicing over what they did have. Don’t let adverse circumstances get them down and make them anxious. Take your concerns to the Lord who nearby, tell Him what bothers you and you will find that the peace God gives you will help you achieve whatever it is that you believe will bring you success. Paul then goes on and tells them that he has learned that whatever difficulties or hardships he was facing, he could be a success because of the strength that Christ living in him made available.9
Going back to the teachings of Jesus, He summed it all up this way: The person who is faithful in the smallest matters is also faithful in much, and the person who is dishonest in the smallest matters will likewise be dishonest in much. So then, if you cannot be trusted with wealth in this world, who will trust you with wealth in the world to come? Now if you have not been trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you anything of your own? No employee can handle two bosses at the same time. They will work for the one they prefer over the other; they will stick by one and the other they are not interested in working for them. Likewise, you cannot be what the world wants you to be and what God wants you to be at the same time.10
All this means is that you must make up your mind early in life if you want to find and stay on the road to success for any length of time. And when you do commit, don’t do it halfheartedly, sell out to the idea that has captured your heart and mind. But make sure, that as a believer, you get God’s stamp of approval on your plans. Once He gives you the green light there is nothing that can stop you from reaching your goal. As the Apostle Paul put it so forcefully: With God on your side, who can possibly stand in your way?11– Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Maximizing Your Potential by Jack Canfield
2 Deuteronomy 8:17-18
3 To God’s Heart by Dr. Robert R Seyda, New Global Publishing, 2006, Psalm 1:1-3
4 Proverbs 16:3
5 Isaiah 41:10
6 Jeremiah 17:5-8
7 Matthew 16:24-25
8 Romans 12:1-2
9 Philippians 4:4-7, 13
10 Luke 16:10-13
11 Romans 8:31