The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be — Book Review

Jose Casanova
Oct 11, 2015 · 6 min read

The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Rating: 5/5

TL;DR: The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be is a must read to learn the guiding principles on success. It helped me focus on achieving my goals.

The Success Principles: A Modern-Day ‘Search for Meaning’ in the Business World

Shortly after the concentration camps were liberated at the end of World War II, Dr. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, published one of the most seminal self-help books of all time, a text that would be printed in the United States with the title Man’s Search For Meaning.

In it, Frankl discusses the psychology of fellow Jews who labored under Nazi persecution, and what accounted for the emotional survival of some survivors while so many others perished spiritually.

He comes to a startling, yet vital, conclusion: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

This could be the mantra of the first part of Jack Canfield’s 2005 book, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.

Canfield is best known as the self-help guru behind the successful Chicken Soup For The Soul series, co-written with Mark Victor Hansen, which has now grown to include more than 250 books, ranging from Chicken Soup For The Soul: Runners to Chicken Soup For The Soul: Children With Special Needs to Chicken Soup For The Prisoner’s Soul.

Co-author of The Success Principles is Janet Switzer, a business consultant and motivational writer.

In The Success Principles, Canfield and Switzer lay out principles, in the spirit of the writings of motivational authors Dr. Frankl, Dale Carnegie, and Zig Ziglar, that can bring businessmen and women, as well as lay people, success in the workplace and in life.

The Success Principles is divided into six sections, “The Fundamentals of Success,” “Transform Yourself For Success,” “Build Your Success Team,” “Create Successful Relationships,” “Success and Money,” and “Success Starts Now.”

The first section, “The Fundamentals of Success,” offers 24 principles for readers to follow. Inherent throughout is the importance of attitude.

Canfield offers a simple formula: Event + Response = Outcome.

In other words, the outcome of any event is predicated on your response to it, the same advice offered by Dr. Frankl.

Frankl wrote about the E + R = O equation (using different words, of course) in Man’s Search For Meaning. While Frankl was focused on surviving the trauma of World War II, Canfield’s perspective is based on surviving obstacles that you encounter in the business world, and then turning those obstacles into successes.

And the key to it all is self-confidence. Before you can overcome any hurdle, you need to believe that you are capable of doing so. If you don’t believe it, then you won’t be successful.

You need to establish a clear vision of your goal or goals, and then set about trying to achieve your objective. Without a clear roadmap and the confidence that you can succeed, you will fail.

Even if you are met with roadblocks in your effort to be successful, you must persist. ‘No’ is not an acceptable answer when you are working towards a targeted goal. Feedback is important, and should be noted, but naysayers should be ignored.

The second section is “Transform Yourself For Success,” containing 14 principles.

The main advice that Canfield and Switzer offer is to avoid critics. People who constantly complain about their jobs, are lazy, and are entitled will have a negative impact on your psyche.

Similarly, the successful attitude of people who are enthusiastic, motivated, and positive-thinkers will rub off on you. Surround yourself with these persons.

One of the most remarkable business success stories of the modern era is that of Fred Smith, the Yale student whose idea for a shipping service was shot down by a professor. He turned his idea into the company now known as FedEx.

What makes Smith notable is that he ignored the advice of a supposedly wiser and more experienced professional. How many Smiths could the world have had, if only they hadn’t listened to defeatists?

The third section is “Build Your Success Team,” featuring nine principles.

After creating a positive-minded peer group, it is important to find a mentor to guide you. It is always wise to find someone experienced who can guide you — someone who has encountered the challenges that you are and will be facing and has learned from them.

Additionally, your team should feature a group of efficient subordinates to whom you can delegate tasks that will take away from your “core genius.”

Finally, Canfield and Switzer advocate that it is important to reject that which is “good” in favor of that which is “great.” Strive to achieve the best that you can with your team, not just what is good enough.

The fourth section, “Create Successful Relationships,” highlights eight principles.

Canfield and Switzer discuss the importance of being honest in your professional interactions, representing yourself clearly, so that there aren’t damaged relationships in the future. If you make a promise, you must keep it; even informal agreements should be adhered to.

Canfield and Switzer speak of the need to listen to what others say and always to be grateful — going above your competition in showing your appreciation to those with whom you interact.

Trusting your instincts about the people who you deal with is also important; if someone doesn’t seem authentic, he or she likely isn’t. Stick with businesses and individuals that are entirely above the board.

In the fifth section, “Success and Money,” Canfield and Switzer review seven principles.

They advocate closely tracking your income and spending, paying yourself first, and not buying what you cannot afford.

They also speak about the importance of being community-minded, giving your time and money to help those less-fortunate than you.

Finally, the “Success Starts Now” section concludes with two principles — each offering motivation to ignore all of the reasons against participating in The Success Principles program and to start following the advice in the book immediately.

The Success Principles is lengthy, coming in at 625 pages. Yet there is plenty of practical advice and wisdom in it, including quotes from respected leaders and motivational clippings that you can hang above your desk.

Among the actionable steps offered in The Success Principles are:

  • DON’T BE TIMID. Often times, it is our own inaction that leads to results that we regret. Just as failing to discipline a disobedient child will lead to more uncouth behavior, so too timidity in the workplace will bring about results that are unfavorable to you and your interests.
  • Advocate for yourself; silence isn’t always golden — especially when your career is on the line.
  • TRUST YOUR INNER-VOICE. You know when something seems wrong and when it seems right. Your intuition may not appear logical, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Follow what your inner-voice tells you, and you won’t be steered in the wrong direction.
  • LISTEN TO RESULTS. It’s hard to disagree with results — don’t try to. If something isn’t working, change course. If what you are doing is effective, keep at it. Don’t let hubris cause you to ignore concrete results. Listen to what the data is telling you.
  • SET GOALS. You need to have set goals and you need to pursue those goals. Don’t be deterred by obstacles in the road. Keep to the path that you set at the beginning of your journey, and don’t get distracted by detours or new paths.
  • EMBRACE CHANGE. While not abandoning your goal, circumstances outside of your control may force you to adjust the way you achieve it. If you don’t embrace changes to your plan, you may never be able to accomplish your goal. Go with the waves, not against them.

Ultimately, The Success Principles is an effective, long term motivational tool for businessmen and women. Though the read may be long and the advice generic, it is nonetheless worthwhile advice. Savvy readers should take notes of what is relevant to them, creating their own wallet-sized reference lists.

Those looking for a potent read should embrace The Success Principles, as it does speak to the human condition and what we all are seeking.

Grab a copy of The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be on Amazon.

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Originally published at Jose Casanova’s Thoughts.

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