The Success Principles

"If you are committed to a cause that evokes your passion and commitment, you keep learning from your experiences, and you stay the course to the end, you will eventually create your desired outcome."

- The Success Principles, page 147

There are numerous self-help books out there, but few are as timeless and powerful as Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles. Canfield himself is an amazing success story and lives a life that is inspiring. He is co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series as well as a trainer and keynote speaker. After years of training, speaking, and studying, Canfield distilled what he considers to be the 64 success principles.

The success principles are organized into 6 categories: The Fundamentals of Success, Transform Yourself for Success, Build Your Success Team, Create Successful Relationships, Success and Money, and Success Starts Now. There are some recurring themes throughout the categories and the principles. Taking full ownership, being present and focusing on a vision are key to implementing them. In addition to explaining the success principles, Canfield provides numerous inspiring stories and quotes for readers to see the principles in action.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Success is the result of action and mindset

"[Successful people] stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all of the other distractions that life presents to them. They are constantly proactive in the pursuit of their chosen objectives."
- The Success Principles, page 204

When reflecting back on The Success Principles, the key takeaway that comes through clearly in the text is that success is the result of action and mindset. Canfield suggests that the reader do activities such as write out their vision and mission for their life, write down meaningful goals and create vision boards. The point of doing all of this is to imagine and believe in what’s possible. After all, if you were bogged down in negative feelings and thoughts, it would feel impossible to achieve what you desired. That’s why Canfield emphasizes creating a positive, success-driven mindset that will support you daily.

Sometimes no negative, fear-based thoughts may seem a bit unreasonable. At some point, one will creep into our mind. Canfield suggests an exercise for managing this that I found very useful. He suggests writing down the negative thought on a piece of paper. Then right below it write a “turnaround statement.” This is a statement that affirms you or helps give you permission to release that thought.

Once the mindset has been created, it’s then important to take action. It’s very easy to fall into patterns of planning and imagining, but at some point we do have to take action if we are to realize our goals. Canfield suggests spending the last 45 minutes of the day planning out the next day and reflecting on how the current day went. He calls this “The Evening Review.” Another suggested exercise is “The Daily Success Focus Journal,” where you can document your top 5 successes of the day and the reason why you consider them to be a success. Again, this is a way to celebrate what has been accomplished and then to use that as a tool to motivate you and assist in planning your next steps.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Focus Days and Buffer Days

"Most entrepreneurs spend less than 30% of their time focusing on their core genius and unique abilities. In fact, by the time they’ve launched a business, it often seems entrepreneurs are doing everything but the one thing they went into business to do. Don’t let this be your fate."
- The Success Principles, page 280

I think the above statement is probably true for everyone – regardless of whether or not you are an entrepreneur. Canfield suggests that excellent time management is essential to success. If we want to be great at something or achieve a particular goal, we need time in order to do it. In light of that, he suggests creating Focus Days and Buffer Days in your schedule. A Focus Day is a day where you spend at least 80% of your time in your core genius and a Buffer Day is when you prepare and plan for a Focus Day. There are also Free Days, which are full 24 hour periods that involve no work, emails or phone calls.

Focus Days are fairly straightforward and I think this is what everyone strives to have more of in their schedules. But what’s interesting is that we don’t often engineer our schedules to actually create these days by chunking tasks and delegation into other days. That’s where Buffer Days come into play. Canfield suggests spending your Buffer Days “learning a new skill, training your support team, or delegating tasks and projects to others”. This was the biggest “ah ha moment” for me while reading this book and is a tip that I’ve implemented. Right now I strive to have three Focus Days and two Buffer Days in my week.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Create Community

"You would never expect an athlete to reach the Olympic Games without a world-class coach."
- The Success Principles, page 304

Sometimes blazing the trail to success can be a lonely, solitary path. Canfield reminds us that we don’t have to be alone on the journey. There are numerous ways to create community around our success and in the end, we are better for it. There are times when we need someone to help us stretch to our limits or give us a pep talk along the way, which is exactly why creating a community to support your success is so valuable.

Canfield lists several ways that you can go about doing this, including: hiring a personal coach, joining or starting a mastermind group, finding a mentor, hiring staff and making space for personal introspection. Each of these offers something slightly different in terms of support and it is important to find the one (or combination) that works best for you. Over the last couple of years, I’ve found that hiring a personal coach, bringing on two part-time staff and making time in my schedule for yoga and walking has yielded the best results for me.

The Success Principles is a timeless self-help book that I know I’ll be referring to again and again. There are hundreds of pages of very actionable advice, which can make it overwhelming to digest, but also yield many ways to arrive at your own success.

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Vanessa Chase

ABOUT Vanessa Chase

I am a fundraising strategist and copywriter, and run the non-profit resource website, Philanthropy For All. Through my work, my goal is to help passionate non-profit folks better articulate their non-profit’s impact and work is a way that translates to engaged philanthropic communities...
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