Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, often tells audiences the story of how his book came to be. He and co-author Mark Hansen were motivational speakers when they came up with the idea for an inspirational book. It would tell real stories about real people, many of them from their audiences.
Canfield says he wrote every night from 10 pm until about 1 am for about a year to get the book finished. Then, he came up with a title that, in his own words, “gave me goosebumps.” He was certain it would be a huge hit immediately. After rejection from 144 publishers in a little over a year, they finally found a small publisher in Florida. The empire that was built from that one little book has been stunning.
Canfield’s success theory
According to Canfield, he lives by one principle only, and that principle has been the cause of his success. The principle is that we have to accept 100% responsibility for all that happens to us in life. In accepting that responsibility, we control our thoughts, behaviors and actions and our responses to everything that is going on around us that we cannot control.
Success theory in practice
The equation that Canfield lives by is E+R =O. Here is how it works.
E = events. Take a look at the world around you. There is certainly plenty to be worried and anxious about. Wages are not going up, and the economy seems stuck. There is a mess in the Middle East that is impacting the whole world. There are events going on in your workplace that are negative. You personally cannot control those things; you can only control your responses to them. And that’s where the “R” comes in.
R = responses. There are 3 responses that we have to events. We respond with thoughts, images that we place in our minds, and behaviors. These tend to be negative when we focus on the events we cannot control. We worry, we fear, we visualize bad outcomes, and we talk about these fears and worries with others. When we do this, the events control us. If, on the other hand, we change those responses from negative to at least neutral, the events no longer control us. And this results in the “O,” or outcomes.
O = outcomes. When our responses change, we can then visualize different outcomes. We can see what it is we want to happen rather than what those events are saying will happen.
“There is no right reaction. There is only your reaction.” – Jack Canfield
How to use the canfield theory of success
The most important element of this success equation is to shut out the events you cannot control and then to identify your life’s purpose. If you start with knowledge of your purpose, then the only events that will consume you are those that you choose to cause – the actions you take that will get your closer to your purpose (goal).
Here are the 5 steps:
- Finding your purpose is actually pretty easy. What are you passionate about? You may have strayed from that passion because of outside events (e.g., taking a job you don’t like for the security of a paycheck in a bad economy). But until you align yourself with your purpose, events will continue to control you.
- Set goals that align with your purpose. Do you want to be a writer? Then set a goal to be one.
- Visualize the outcome. See yourself as a writer, a teacher, a lawyer, or whatever it is that you know is your purpose.
- Take action toward that purpose fulfillment. Will there be hard work involved? Of course. But you can develop the habit of creating the events that will fulfill that purpose in small steps. You are building the foundation, bit by bit. Every day, create 5 events that will take you closer to your goal. Make a list of those 5 actions (events) and put it in a visible place, checking each one off as it occurs. Every day that foundation gets a little bigger, because you have created 5 more events.
- Keep visualizing your outcome so that your optimism grows.
Success is not a chance event
Success can only be defined as fulfilling your purpose in life, as engaging yourself in that work about which you have passion. If success were only about money, then we could say that someone who wins the lottery is a success. Given that 95% of those winners are broke within 5 years of their wins, however, would tell us otherwise. All of that money without any thought to one’s life purpose is just a chance event that does not bring success.
“Slow down and take the time to really see. Take a moment to see what is going on around you right now, right where you are. You may be missing something wonderful.” ― Jeffrey Michael Thomas
We have to define success correctly, find our life purpose, create our own events that fulfill that purpose, and then fully enjoy the outcomes that we have visualized for ourselves. This is a life well lived.