Pursuit of Happiness

"If success were easy, everybody would be a millionaire"

Jack Canfield opens up on his new book, his mentor and his favourite soup

For the past 40 years, Jack Canfield has been coaching people on how to succeed at just about anything — from losing weight to making more money to becoming a better parent and partner. His Chicken Soup for the Soul book series has sold more than 500 million copies around the world. On his third visit to India, Canfield spoke on a wide range of subjects, from how he deals with failure to what his latest book is about. Excerpts:

Your bestselling book Chicken Soup for the Soul was turned down by 144 publishers. What went through your mind when you dealt with naysayers? 

I did not look on publishers denying our book as failure — rather, I saw it as a delay in results. Each time we got rejected, we learnt something new about the book proposal and we eventually got 20,000 people to sign a form saying that they would buy the book if it were published. It’s a matter of seeing failure as a learning experience and not taking it as a sign to stop or a sign that you are incompetent or cannot succeed.

Your mentor W Clement Stone inspired you… What set him apart?

The event in my life I most cherish would be when I was 26 years old and I met W Clement Stone. A self-made multi-millionaire, Stone was worth $600 million in 1969 when he became my mentor for a couple of years while I worked for his non-profit foundation. During those two amazing years, he introduced me to the basic principles and practices that had led to his success. He taught me the importance of giving up all blaming and complaining and taking 110% responsibility for my life. He taught me the power of the mind (the importance of attitude, expectation, and beliefs) in creating success. He taught me how to meditate and visualise my desired outcomes as already manifested. 

He taught me about the Law of Attraction and how to use one’s intuition to make the right decision in all circumstances. His positivity was something that completely set him apart. We referred to him as an “inverse paranoid” — this man believed the world was plotting to do him good. That positive attitude was infectious and inspired everyone around him to believe in his dream and support him. Research now also shows that optimists tend to live longer, have fewer heart attacks, recover quickly if they do have one — and have more fun along the way.

You fine employees at your office who use the word ‘can’t’. How much money did you collect? Is there a way to screen and weed out chronic naysayers at the recruitment stage?

Collecting a fine for saying the word ‘can’t’ was something I came up with for my organisation and in the beginning we collected a lot of money as fine until it started to get expensive for people and they made a concerted effort to mend their ways. We then used the money to treat the employees at major milestones. 

Rather than focusing on weeding out chronic naysayers during recruitment, management should focus on finding an employee who is a good fit — as proven by our fine method, habits can always be changed in the way that new tasks can be taught to the employee. 

How is inspired action different from obvious action? 

Obvious action is about taking logical steps. You want to become a doctor, then you need to go to medical school. Without doing that, the knowledge will not come to you just because you wish it to. On the other hand, inspired action is something that occurs as a result of daily visualising your goals and the feelings associated with it if you had already achieved it. Inspired action is random but can make you take giant leaps towards achieving that goal. For example, you wanted to find an amazing husband.

One day, your aunt calls and tells you that an amazing guy has moved in next door and that you should all go out together one day. Inspired action here would be you trusting your intuition and meeting him and later it turns out that he was the guy you were looking for. Inspired action can also be thought of as a greater flow of creativity in the form of intuitions and signals. As a result of clarifying my goals, believing it was possible, visualising my desired results every day, and then acting on my inspirations, I was able to go from making $25,000 a year to almost $100,000 a year in just one year. 

How does the visualisation-GPS system of achievement of goals work?

The system of visualisation and achievement works like this:

Review your affirmations one to three times a day. The best times are first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day to refocus yourself, and around bedtime. If appropriate, read each affirmation out loud.

Close your eyes and visualise yourself as the affirmation describes. See it as if you were looking out at the scene from inside of yourself. In other words, don’t see yourself standing out there in the scene; see the scene as if you were actually living it.

Hear any sounds you might hear when you successfully achieve what your affirmation describes — the sound of the surf, the roar of the crowd, the playing of the national anthem. Include other important people in your life congratulating you and telling you how pleased they are with your success.

Feel the feelings that you will feel when you achieve that success. The stronger the feelings, the more powerful the process. Say your affirmations again, and then repeat this process with the next affirmation. What are the biggest differentiators that separate the 3% club from the rest? [The 3% club refers to the 3% of the population, or super-achievers, who control 90% of the world’s wealth]

I believe that we are all 100% responsible for how our life turns out. I do not believe we are victims of destiny or bad luck. Sure, challenging things happen to all of us, but we have a choice as to how we will respond. I teach a formula in my book, which is E+R=O. That stands for Event + Responses=Outcomes. It is not the events that determine our success, but our responses to those events. Controlling the responses to events is one of the major things that the 3% club has perfected. 

Another thing that the 3% club practise is that they do not accept rejection and are not afraid of asking for help. It is important to remember that you have survived everything that has ever happened to you in your life; no matter how bad it was, you are still here. Second, remember that you are always going to have your commitment to your dreams tested. If success were easy, everyone would be a millionaire. It takes work, endurance and a continual recommitment to your version of your ideal life. You have to always make a choice. Are you going to be more committed to your dreams and your vision or to your fears, doubts and your perception of current reality? 

The fact is that most people already know exactly what they need to do to create outrageous results in every area of their life... they just don’t do it!

You have persisted and worked very hard to get where you have. Now that the rewards have come, which privilege do you relish most? 

The privilege I relish the most is the ability to spend more time with my family. I have gone from earning $8,000 a month to having a net worth of $80 million. 

However, I don’t do what I do for the money — I do it because I want to change the thoughts and beliefs of people and pass on the key to my success. I believe that it is important to celebrate even the smallest of your successes as it motivates you to achieve more and be better. In saying that, learning that the Chicken Soup for the Soul books have transcended casual reading and actually get used as textbooks for Chinese students is something that I do feel very proud about. 

Can you give us a preview of what is coming our way in Tapping into Ultimate Success?

There are many people who are already on the path to spiritual and personal growth by practising The Success Principles. Even then, there will be times that people struggle to implement these ideas. Tapping into Ultimate Success showcases a new cutting-edge technology that has emerged to remove the fears, doubts and upsets that can keep you from living according to your values and ideals. 

The book discusses these emotional freedom techniques, which can be used to fight your fears and become successful regardless of the obstacles. 

Which is your favourite Chicken Soup book and why? And which is your favourite soup?

My favourite Chicken Soup title would be Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul as it has really great and interesting stories about how people have survived the tough times within their lives and overcome their problems. My favourite soup? At the risk of sounding clichéd, it would have to be the classic Grandma’s Chicken Soup.