What makes a person successful? This is probably one of the most asked questions, and fortunately, as Tony Robbins said, “success leaves clues.” In this episode, Adam Markel interviews the perfect guest who shares his most powerful success “clues”. Adam talks with the one and only Jack Canfield, the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and America’s number one success coach. Having studied, researched and practiced what makes successful people different, Jack shares these tenets that will help you get where you want to be, also outlined in his new book, The Success Principles. Addressing the current crisis, Jack explores why we need these principles now more than ever and how they can help businesses and individuals thrive in this unexpected adversity. While the world may not seem conducive to success right now, that does not make success impossible. Tune in to the wisdom Jack shares, including how opportunities can be found even within tragedies. All you have to do is make that conscious pivot to create a better life for yourself and others in the future.
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Powerful Success Principles with Legendary Jack Canfield
I’m smiling from ear to ear now. There are many things that can take us into other places in our minds. A lot of dark roads that we can travel down on a regular day. In the middle of this pandemic, there is a lot that can take us out. Yet I have many valid reasons to smile and I know we all do. That’s the truth of it. One in particular, which I want to share with you because I’m such a fan of rituals and the power of rituals, especially when it comes to creating resilience, which is important for us all these days. I’ve had this ritual for about a few weeks. What’s great, too, is I’m going to talk about a book to start and I’m going to bring on a man who I could call him a book guy. We could call him a lot of positive things. I fell in love with this book a couple of years back. It’s called The Greatest Salesman in the World. It’s an old book by Og Mandino. What’s interesting about this book is it has a number of principles in it. He calls them scrolls. There’s a particular scroll that says, “I will greet this day with love in my heart.”
The book guides people and even invites people like myself to read one of these chapters every day for 30 days before moving on to the next scroll or the next chapter. I’ve read the book before. I’ve loved the messages in it and heart-centered stuff. What I love is that I’m getting tremendous benefit from this consistent ritual of reading this same one chapter. My mind will often resist rules. This a routine that I felt like a forced routine. I rejected it previously, but now I’m doing it. This is where I want also to be transparent. I have a good habit of greeting the day with love in my heart and this whole I love my life message that we leaned into a bunch of years ago has helped me with that. We had this long online event that we did one Saturday. It’s a wonderful resilience event. I felt great when I woke up on Sunday morning. I greeted the day with love in my heart. By the middle of the afternoon, I ended up in a confrontation with our youngest daughter. I’ve got a 19-year-old back in the house.
Randi and I were empty nesters. Now we have once again kids in the home, which is beautiful and can be triggering. I know I must’ve triggered her. She triggered me right back. It ended up in a beef with my beautiful youngest daughter. I thought to myself when I hit the floor and then shortly thereafter got into reading this book and saying these words, “I will greet this day with love in my heart.” I wanted to amend it and add something, which is that I will greet and sustain this day with love in my heart. In many of our spiritual practices and the paths that we’re on, our meditations, best intentions and the love that we want to show up with are it’s fine when we’re in ideal conditions, ashram, cross-legged, yoga or in some other place on a sunny day even.
When things are tough, something that gets under our skin or triggers us or whatever it is, that’s the time when that practice is valuable. I forgot about it. I didn’t embody that practice in a full-on yelling match with our daughter. Greeting the day with love is a magnificent way to start to plant those seeds. I would say it’s been a success principle for me. To sustain the day and to maintain that love in my heart, even in the midst of chaos or conflict or any challenge is the thing that I wanted to open up with. It’s the perfect lead because the gentleman that I have the honor to spend some time with is somebody I know a little bit for a number of years and highly respect. He’s a wonderful man.
He’s a wonderful impact on the world through his books, his teachings, many different things. We’re going to talk about the success principles among other things. I’m excited about this conversation. If you haven’t already guessed who the guest is, it’s Jack Canfield, none other, the Co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He has developed 42 New York Times bestsellers and holds a Guinness Book world record for having seven books on the New York Times bestseller lists, simultaneously known as America’s number one success coach. Jack has studied and reported on what makes successful people different. Over the last many years, his compelling message, empowering energy and personable coaching style has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals achieve their dreams. He has been a featured guest on more than 1,000 radio and television programs, but in nearly every major market worldwide. I’m happy to have you on the show, Jack. Welcome.
It’s my pleasure. Before we start, I have to comment on something. You mentioned Og Mandino, one of the great fortunes of my life is I worked for a man named W. Clement Stone for a number of years, who was the owner and publisher of Success Magazine when Og Mandino was the editor. I worked in the same building as Og. He was a guy who had worked sometimes late into the night and so was I. Occasionally, we’d meet and we get to talk. Here I was in my twenties and Og, he was 40s or 50s at the time. What an amazing man, a great mentor, a great teacher. I have been more than fortunate to have some of the best mentors and people I’ve crossed paths with. Napoleon Hill was a friend of W. Clement Stone.
You brought back a wonderful memory when you talked about Og Mandino and this idea of reading a book over and over and reading one chapter. I’ve read 3,000 books in my life. I had to count that up one time for something. I had to do it over. I’d have read 1,000 and studied them more deeply. You do see patterns when you read a lot of books, which is good. W. Clement Stone coined this term. He said, “You don’t want to end up with shelf-esteem.” Meaning you don’t want a bookshelf full of books you read, but you never did anything. It’s about the commitment to do the work that’s in those books.Abundance is part of the universe. Click To Tweet
This is working on a subtitle for our next book as well. It is the concept of if people did the things they know. We’re looking at what the unradical pivots are in our lives, the unradical rituals that we can adopt. Some of those things that are not radical at all are taking advantage of what we already know. The things we’ve already learned. Not to suggest we should stop in any way seeking out new things, but if we applied even a fraction of the great advice that we’ve gotten from mentors, our grandparents or people along the way, wouldn’t we be in a different place, Jack?
We would. We’ve all heard we should eat a better diet. We should not smoke. We should exercise. We should meditate. We should do X, Y and Z, but so few of us do that. It’s not about knowing. It’s about doing. My mentor, W. Clement Stone always said, “First, you have to assimilate it, then you have to apply it and then you have to persist in applying it.” It has to become a habit. It has to become something that’s almost unconscious. I don’t have to think about brushing my teeth twice a day, in the morning and before I go to bed. It’s something I do. If I don’t do it, I get out of bed and do it because it’s so much a part of who I am. It’s not what you do, but who you be in the process.
Like many of the other seeming paradoxes, which are fun to look at, that’s one of them. We’re such creatures of habit. The idea of brushing our teeth, that’s one of those simple things to look at. I love starting with this question so I want to ask you this as well. Your bio is significant. It’s a great CV as we like to say sometimes. What’s not a part of that introduction that you would want people to know about you, Jack?
I got so much. I grew up in West Virginia in a home where my dad made $8,000 a year. He was not wealthy. He thought wealthy people screwed everyone else over. He was anti-corporate, anti-wealthy people. I had to learn from W. Clement Stone that wealth and success were not four-letter words and that it was okay. One of the things he had us do one day was going down to the stock exchange. As all these rich people were coming out and getting into their limos, we had to go up to them and thank them for being a model of wealth so that we realized that was possible for us. For someone who grew up in the ‘70s, I was countercultural and had a beard. I had a father who was anti-corporate, that was a real stretch.
Anytime you resent somebody for something, you’ll resent yourself if you achieve the same thing. You teach a lot about love, that you unconditionally love and accept everybody, even though they may be doing things you don’t fully agree with. In the process of rejecting them, you’re rejecting parts of yourself. Often, you’re rejecting a part of yourself that could do good things. I love Bob Proctor’s quote where he says, “If you don’t have money, the only good you can do is where you physically are.” If you have a lot of money, you can build schools in Africa. You can feed the homeless people in your community.
You can teach people job skills in India, whatever it might be. Abundance is part of the universe. I look out of my window I see an abundance. I have 58 trees on my property. Everywhere I look, there are trees. There are oranges growing. There are limes growing. There are avocados growing. There are lemons. I live in Southern California and nature is abundant. There are millions of leaves on one tree. We are meant to be prosperous. It is an aspect of what’s in everyone’s potential, if you can come to grips with that and learn the skills. I did an interesting project. I wrote two forewords for books that had the word billionaire in it.
One was The Billion Dollar Secret written by a guy in Poland who interviewed 21 billionaires. The other guy wrote a book called From Homeless to Billionaire. He was homeless at 19 on a beach and by 35 he was worth $3 billion. They teach principles. All these rich people, you interview them. One of the things I found was interesting was the people that were billionaires, they all got up before 5:30 in the morning. They all meditated. They all exercised. All but one of them read voraciously for at least an hour a day sometimes on their private jet. Sometimes in their bedroom at night, in the morning, whatever. You can start to look at what are the behavioral patterns and habits of highly successful people.
You can learn from them. If you do what they do, you can achieve the same things they achieve. Tony Robbins has that great quote, “Success leaves clues.” What was left in the books like I write and you write, it’s left in TED Talks and TEDx Talks. It’s left on masterclasses, which is a wonderful series now that you can subscribe to on the internet. There’s no lack of information about what works. The question is, are you willing to be a student? Instead of watching the third season of Breaking Bad, would you rather watch something that’s going to uplift you and take you to the next level?
It’s the Huna, the Hawaiian saying, you bless that what you want. That’s such a beautiful way to express it. Anything that we are resentful of, we are negating. Therefore, it makes it that much more difficult to have it.
We’re pushing it away from ourselves as well as from the people that we love.
If you’ve examined the lives of people around you, you’ll see that often, it’s the self-fulfilling prophecy. My dad is a creative person as a fiction writer, but also looked suspiciously and still does at people with money. My dad has never had a lot of money. He’s done decently well. Mostly because I think my grandmother was more thinking about money so she set things up. Therefore, he was okay to be in that space of his creative writing. It is powerful the way that we will create exactly what it is that we are telling ourselves one way or the other. Jack, you’ve created tremendous success. Where did it start for you? I was an undergrad at UMass Amherst, which is this wonderful school in the middle of Massachusetts, Pioneer Valley. Were you a grad student there at some point?
I was at the Graduate School of Education for a lot of years. I was working on my doctorate, which I never finished. I made a mistake in writing a bestselling book while I was still a doctoral student. It sold 400,000 copies. I started getting invitations all over the country to come and speak about this book called 100 Ways to Enhance Self-Concept in the Classroom. I began to wonder why am I writing a dissertation? I thought the doctor would be the thing I needed for credibility. It was the book and the activities in that book were working. I’ve always been a collector of practical tools that you can apply both in the classroom, in the corporate world, in your own life, that would give you more success. When that happened, I realized I don’t need to do that. I dropped out of my program all but dissertation. I never did a dissertation. I thought, “You write a book. You make $400,000. That’s a little bit better than writing a dissertation and getting a plaque on the wall.” I continued to write books.
Was that book a precursor to The Success Principles?
It wasn’t a sense that my definition of self-esteem was being lovable, capable, and significant. You talk a lot about love. If you feel lovable, you’re included. People like you. You love your body. You love your emotions. You’re not told that it’s not okay not to cry or to be angry. You’re not judging yourself for being too much of this or not enough of that. The second part of that is capable. Are you able to achieve the things you want? Do you have the competency, the skills and the abilities to achieve the things that are important to you?
The third thing is significant. Do you matter to anybody? Do you make a difference in the lives of others so that you could be significant to your parents, to your children, to your community or to the world? What happened was as I started to do this work with teachers, training them in this work. One day I was working in this school and this principal said, “My husband owns a company. You should go over and say the same talk you did to them.” I said, “I never worked in a company except as a floor sweeper in the General Electric plant one summer between college and graduate school.” She said, “They’re big kids in suits. Now, you’d go over and work with them.”
She was right. You don’t change because you graduated and started working in a company. It’s the same psychology. I did that. They loved it. I started pivoting more of my work into the corporate world, into personal development seminars for the general public. That took off. I started by doing self-esteem seminars, which was including the lovable and the capable. Little by little, corporations wanted more of the capable, teach our salespeople how to be more successful, teach our managers how to manage. Being a loving being makes you a better manager. Caring about your clients makes you a better salesperson. You’re teaching from your heart rather than from a need of like, “I’ve got to get a sale.” The competent part, how do I achieve my goals? How do I get healthy? How do I create great relationships? How do I master money? That became more of the focus.
Integrating heart and head, especially in public, in the speaking or in the facilitation space is important. Our company trains people to do TED Talks and deliver now a lot of virtual training. One of the big hurdles with virtual training is what you’re talking about. How is that you convey information effectively but still be able to engage people in the one place? That regardless of whether you’re the CEO of a huge company or you’re somebody that lost your job, we all come from our emotional place. We were feeling beings and to be able to engage a person at that level was different than speaking strictly to the intellect.If life were easy, we'd all be thin. Click To Tweet
You have to speak from the heart to the heart as well as to the head. When they’re integrated, as you know, then you have wisdom. You have the ability to be successful in a lot of ways that most people never achieve. The key thing for me that I’ve done because I do experiential training as you do is, how do we keep doing that on Zoom calls, in Facebook Lives and all that stuff? We’ve mastered a little bit because we’ve had to pivot quickly. How do we keep people engaged through chats, questions, polls and experiential exercises? You could get up and have people do Chinese Qigong exercises right in front of their computer. You can put everyone on mute, have them speak out, do chants, visualizations, repeat affirmations, lead guided visualizations and so on and so forth. I have a funny feeling because we’ve had to cancel two major training with about 200 or 300 people in them.
I’ve lost 5 or 6 speeches I was supposed to do, one of which I delivered by Zoom to a whole church, 300 people at home. We kept the contract. We’re now moving all these people into a year-long live program, which we’ll be teaching The Success Principles over the course of the year with a lot of engagement, challenges, homework assignments, Facebook community chats and also baking people into small groups on Zoom and so forth. I’m starting to think maybe that’s what I’d rather do in the future than show up all over the world. Travel to Iran and Iraq and all these places where I’ve been doing seminars in the Middle East, do it by Zoom. It saves everyone money, time, and reach to as many people, but you can’t hug somebody. I’ve said, “Imagine if you were with your partner, give him a hug.” They go like this. They look in each other’s eyes and it still communicates in a powerful way.
We had LuAnn Buechler. She has an iHug Across America, her iHug Movement. You couldn’t get a bigger blow to the iHug Movement of all the things that have been affected. She shared with me the sign language for iHug. On a Zoom with a podcast, we expressed this hug. I took a moment to feel into a virtual hug. Even if that wasn’t the case, you could feel someone else’s hug. You can feel it through their energy, heart, eyes, smile. All of that is possible and the world will not go back to the old new normal. It will be a new normal. In many ways, I agree with you. The opportunity to impact in a positive way more lives across greater geography and not so much without risk. I don’t want to lean into the fear of it, but the expense and the income, a very efficient way to have the message be felt.
There will always be live trainings. There will be conventions. There will be conferences. There will be sales gatherings and all this stuff. There will be a little less of that. More will happen online. I do think there’s something radically powerful about having 1,000 people in a room all focused on the same thing. The hallway conversations that occur, which are important as you know. The group intention where you get all the energy and there is something about a physical hug. We can send each other a hug and we can look into each other’s eyes. I feel good doing that. When the two biomagnetic fields come together and amp each other up, there’s something about that is new physiology. Perhaps we can figure out how to do that without it. It sure feels good when you do it.
I want to talk about The Success Principles now as well because there’s a companion workbook. It’s officially. Share a little bit about what the workbook is intended to do to elevate the message of the underlying book.
This is what it looks like. It’s got a picture of me on it, to take off on the picture of me on the first book called The Success Principles. Here’s the nice thing about it, it’s much thinner than the original book. The first book had 64 principles in it. The revised edition is 67 because we added how to be successful in a digital age, a chapter on leadership, and a chapter on networking with Ivan Misner, who runs BNI, Business Network International. In the workbook, there are seventeen chapters. Each chapter represents 1 or sometimes a combination of 2 principles.
The workbook, I wanted to call it a don’t read this book because I don’t want you to read it. I want you to do it. The point is everything in here, I give you enough background that you don’t have to read the original book. What you do is the exercises. Some of them are paper and pencil things, some of them are where reflections. There are a couple of places where there’s a URL. We lead you through a guided visualization like how to find your life purpose, things like that. There are some meditations in there as well.
It’s a seventeen-week course. Some people have gone through the whole workbook in a couple of weeks because they like to rush through things. They’ve got a lot of time on their hands. We’re already getting five-star reviews on Amazon and so forth. I was excited, Adam, when I found out the book sold out on the first two days on Amazon. They’re restocking it, but they’re restocking it slowly because of the fact that there are many items now being ordered on Amazon. Everyone’s ordering online as opposed to going to their local stores. They went back to the press to print another 10,000 books, so that’s good.
The key here is it’s a workbook. It’s a book to work through. Each of the activities creates a-ha experiences, some help you planning things, some having mental breakthroughs or heartbreak throughs. When you come out the other end, think of it as a car wash. You’re not the same person. I recommend people too, if you can go through the book with a partner. It could be your spouse. It could be a son, like your nineteen-year-old daughter you talked about whatever. I have to insert a little piece of humor. I saw this thing, it said, “Started homeschooling now. Two students already suspended for violence and one teacher fired for drinking on the job.” I can totally relate.
The idea is if you go through the book with a friend, either online, Skype, Zoom call, in the house, whatever, you’ll have someone you can hold each other accountable. You can share what you’re learning, which is also valuable as you go through. We took the seventeen most core principles from the first book. Here’s the cool thing. I had interviewed over 750 people in the last twenty years to write that first book, successful entrepreneurs, generals in the military, movie stars, Olympic athletes, professional athletes, etc. What are the principles that these successful people all live their life by including myself? I didn’t want to be me. I want to make sure they were universal, which they are.
We said, “What are the practical ways to Velcro these into your consciousness, into your behavioral habits? There are only three things you do on a daily basis. You think thoughts. You visualize things. Positively call it goal setting, negatively call it worrying. A third thing you do, you say things and you do things. It’s behavior, images and thoughts. What are the behaviors, the images, and thoughts of successful people? We take you through that. You’ve ended up with a vision. You’ve turned that vision into goals. They’re all aligned with your life purpose. You’ve learned what do you have to ask for to make that happen? What limiting beliefs do you need to remove and replace with positive beliefs and how to do that? How to use affirmations and visualizations to turbocharge?
Do you know who Sheri Salata is? She used to be Oprah’s producer. She was the head of the OWN Network, Oprah Winfrey Network, for a while. I’ve been on her show three weeks in a row where they’ve taken this book. Every week, she and her partner, Nancy, go through two of the chapters and they do the exercises. We get on her show, which is a half-hour show. We talk about what epiphanies they’ve had and what they’re learning, any blocks they might’ve come up against and here are two people.
Sheri Salata, one of the most successful people on the planet running Oprah’s network. She said to me, “Jack, I’ve been visualizing wrong. You taught me the correct way to do it. I thought I knew everything about affirmations. I didn’t.” As I throw these words on, people go, “I know that.” Are you doing it correctly? They always say practice makes perfect, not true. Perfect practice makes perfect. A lot of people are doing things incorrectly. You’ve heard me say this, if you know the combination to a lock, you can unlock that lock. Your nineteen-year-old daughter could do it.
A kid who’s five years old could do it as long as they have the right numbers in the right order. If you’re missing one number, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, that lock will never open. A lot of people are missing key nuances and points about this lock. This combination is the lock called success, which we’ve put into the book. As people go through it, they get there. What we did was we took 30 people who’d never done this work before, gave them a copy of the original manuscript, said do the book. They were unfamiliar with my work. They weren’t on anyone’s TED Talks or anything.Self-confidence is the result of surviving a risk. Click To Tweet
They came back several months later and said, “I’ve doubled my income in two months. I’ve lost twenty pounds. I got out of a crappy relationship or I improved my relationship. I finally got my husband to go into therapy.” We know that the workbook stands alone as a workbook. If you read it in conjunction with the original book, that’s even better, but it’s not required. I don’t like to be salesy. I will tell you that if you read this book, it will change your life such as the point that if you buy a copy, which a copy would cost you about five Starbucks coffees. You can’t go out and buy those anyway now. Do it at home and you don’t get the value you want, you call me and I’ll send you back the money you paid for the book. That’s no problem.
We’re onto something, Jack. I want to shift to our pivot shamelessly self-promoting. Is it a conscious pivot? What about resilience? I’d love to track if we can some parallel between some of those success principles and what will help people the most, not to bounce back from this unexpected adversity, but how to utilize it, Jack? That’s the thing that in my lesser years of experience with this, but I’ve seen some low moments and I’ve seen some high moments too. More than anything in my own life and in the lives of a number of people I’ve seen, your ability to not get back up from a knockdown is less of a determining factor when it comes to that word success. What did you learn and how did you apply what you learned to create momentum then so that the whole event becomes an opportunity of a sort? Your book I know will address that. When you think about the specific things that would help people to become more resilient now and even what your definition of resilience is.
The first thing is resiliency is key. The first Chicken Soup for the Soul book was rejected by 144 publishers over the course of fourteen months. It required resilience every time it got a rejection to say, “Okay, next, next.” One of the chapters in The Success Principles Workbook is about asking and rejecting rejection. We’re all going to get rejected. If life were easy, we’d all be thin. We’d be happy. We’d be wealthy. It’s a challenge. A lot of people believe that life is a school and you’re here to learn lessons. You only learn the lessons by experiencing them. You don’t build resilience by not having things to be resilient about.
You don’t develop courage without having things that you have to act courageously in order to survive. Self-confidence is the result of surviving a risk. You’re confident in what you do because you’ve done it enough times where the first time, you were probably shaking a little nervous. I remember I was a psychotherapist for a bunch of years and my first patient, they gave me a check. I gave it back to them at the end of the hour. I said, “I now know why they call it a private practice. We’re practicing here in private. I don’t think I did that good a job for you. You keep this check and come back next week.” He did. He came back for two years.
The point is that we have to have challenges in order to develop strength. In other words, if you don’t lift weights, you don’t get stronger muscles. I believe that honestly, the real purpose of life is mastery of your emotions so we learn how to stay in a high vibration of love, joy, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude and love. I believe that we are supposed to master our ability to communicate, to enroll people, to be persuasive and convincing. I believe we’re supposed to master how we relate to our resources called money, time and things like that. You can’t master these if you don’t engage them. You’re never going to be perfect when you start. I love the concept of FAIL and you take the I and you put another L under it, spells fall.
We all failed to walk many times called learning to walk. For our parents had said you get 200 tries after you fall down 200 times, you’re on your own. Nobody ever did that. We said, “We’re going to keep working on this until he walks.” Why don’t we have that same belief that I’m going to keep writing a book until I figure out how to make it a bestseller? I’m going to keep doing this podcast until I get good at it. I’m going to go out there and work on relationships until I get good at it. I’m on my third marriage. The first one lasted five years, the second one lasted twenty years. We did a lot of good things. We outgrew each other, but I’ve learned now some things from each of those relationships.
I’m with my wife, Inga, for many years. It looks like we’re going to be together forever. I’m committed to that. I’m using all the skills I’ve learned. I’ve studied John Gray and Allison and all these other people to be a better spouse. One of the tools that are in The Success Principles book that helps with resilience was a question I learned from Dan Sullivan in his Strategic Coach program. The question is, on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of our experience? The quality of the experience of our relationship so I’m asking you that every week and I get an answer from 1 to 10.
I’ve gotten as low as a four. That was not fun to hear that. The next question is the most important question, what would it take to make it a ten? When I got a four, she said, “Number one, don’t interrupt me when I’m telling a joke because you think you can tell it better,” which I still believe I can, but I’ve learned that’s not a great marital technique. Number two, she said, “Your job is to put our grandson to bed when he’s visiting. I don’t care if it’s the NBA playoffs. I wake him up. You put him to bed. I don’t want to have to remind you. Number three, I want you to take out the garbage without me telling you. Number four, have you heard about foreplay?”
I said, “Yeah, I know about foreplay.” She said, “You might want to revisit that.” It was her way of saying she wasn’t happy sexually at that point in our relationship. We had a long conversation about that. We changed some things up, scheduled more time for things, etc. It got less mechanical, got more creative and she’s happy now. The point being that I can’t improve without feedback. Most people don’t ask for feedback because they’re afraid of what they’re going to hear. In the case of my wife, she had told her sister, her mother, her women’s group, someone at the nail salon she didn’t even know. I’m the only person that can change it. Until she tells me, it can’t get better. Most people are afraid to give feedback because they’re afraid you’re going to get angry, they’re afraid you’re going to give up, cry, walk out of the room or whatever, defend yourself. We have to be the one that asks for it. The only response you ever want to give, as painful as it might be, what you heard is thank you for caring enough to share that with me because it’s courageous for people to give you that feedback.
Even as a writer, what made Chicken Soup for the Soul successful was that we had 140 people giving us feedback on every story that showed up in a book. We started with twenty people. It was an accident. We had too many stories, 120 in the first book. We asked our friends and family to grade a story on a scale of 1 to 10. We’ll put it in an Excel spreadsheet. The ones that score high would make it in the book. That became a scientific thing of having Republicans, Democrats, independents, Jews, Christians, Muslims, urban people, suburban people, country people, conservatives, liberal, old, young, different generations, black, white, yellow, brown, etc.
Such that if a story scored high across the board, we knew we had a universal story. It became scientific. When we did the third Chicken Soup for The Teenage Soul, there was a whole school in California that suspended classes for an entire day. All the kids read Chicken Soup stories. Not everyone read all the same stories. We had about 2,000 scores that we had to put into a computer, but we ended up with a powerful book because we knew these were the stories that kids loved out of about 150 that we gave them to choose from. As Ken Blanchard, who wrote The One Minute Manager, said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” You have to be resilient enough to know you can survive any feedback.
That’s another piece of it. You get strong. I haven’t gotten a four from my wife too often, but when I do, I have to take a deep breath and say, “You’ve survived this before. You’ll survive it again.” One of the key things that everyone needs to know who’s reading this, you have survived everything that ever happened to you. You have or you wouldn’t be reading this now, you’d be dead. The reality is we are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for and we have to be willing to get out of our comfort zone. I was watching a major actress being interviewed on TV. She said something that comes out of one of my books, which was, “Everything you want that you don’t have is on the other side of fear.”
First of all, I said, “I’m being quoted by famous people. This is cool.” More importantly, it’s true that everything you want that you don’t have is on the other side of what’s stopping you from going for it. It’s called fear. Fear is simply fantasized experiences of the future appearing real to you because we can’t tell the difference between a fantasized experience and a real experience. When I have people in my seminars, I’ll have them stand up, close their eyes and imagine they’re standing on top of a tall skyscraper. They have to walk to the edge of this terrace that has no railing and look down.
Everyone in the group after we do it, they said, “My heart started racing. My palms got sweaty. I was pulling back.” They have a physiological reaction. We want to use our talent for visualizing things to visualize our positive future, not our negative past. The other thing is a whole chapter in the book on perseverance, not giving up because you are going to fall down. You are going to fail. The question is, how many times are you willing to do that? There are people in the Law of Attraction world that says, “If it’s too hard, you’re swimming upstream.” You know that song, “Merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream. Row, row, your boat gently down the stream,” you still have to row. Let’s not go against what’s the highest good for you. I do think that we sometimes have to take some risks and do things that are challenging and hard. I like to say suffering is optional, but work is required.You have to be resilient enough to know you can survive any feedback. Click To Tweet
If you try something a million times, it’d be going to say what I would need to do differently to get there? I’ll give you one example. When we were selling Chicken Soup for the Soul and being turned down by 144 publishers, somewhere around the 100th publisher, I learned another question from someone in a book I read. I said, “What would have to happen for you to say yes?” It’s such a powerful question. The publisher said, “I’d have to know I could sell 20,000 copies. If I knew I could sell 20,000 copies, I would be willing to take the risk. My co-author, Mark Victor Hansen and I over the course of the next several months, every talk we gave, sometimes to 50 people, sometimes to a 1,000 people, sometimes to 2,000 people, we would put a piece of paper on every chair. It meant four reams of paper.
On each piece of paper was printed the words I promise to buy blank number of copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, my name, my address and my phone number. We collected 20,000 promises. Raymond Aaron, who you know, promised to buy 1,000 copies for all of his coaching clients, which he did, which shocked me. He’s that kind of guy, he keeps his word. We took two bankers’ boxes full of these commitments to our publisher and said, “Here, you said if we could sell 20,000 copies, you’d do it. You now have 20,000.” We also said, “If you sell 18,000 and not 20,000, Mark and I will buy the other 2,000. You have no risk.” He said, “Okay.” That’s how we got the book published because we asked and then we asked that question, “What would have to happen for you to say, ‘Yes?’” We never gave up.
The asking for feedback is where you find answers. That’s the irony of that whole concept of asking for somebody to tell you what’s missing or not working. A lot of people don’t want to do that. I have a hesitancy sometimes to want to get feedback. I’ve spoken many times all over the world and yet watching a video of me afterward and going over it with the team to look for things that are usable and it’s agony. It’s excruciating on some level. I’ve trained myself to be able to deal with the discomfort and abide by the pain I suppose. It’s a creative opportunity that’s right in front of us for me personally to improve, but also for us to do something that’s valuable for the business.
Not a lot of people are willing to bear that type of pain. Feedback can be humiliating. I’ll say this last thing about that is that sometimes it’s what you said is you ask for feedback. We found too, and this has been helpful for me, is to help that person to give you feedback by giving them a way to do it that is honoring to them and to you. We have three statements that we typically use when we’re giving feedback to somebody who’s training to be a public speaker in dealing with their fear and all that. These three statements are what worked for me, what didn’t work for me, what could be done differently. I introduced this feedback loop to my own speaking agent, who had been doing this work for many years.
I said, “When you give me feedback, if it’s okay with you and I promise I’m going to give you feedback in the exact same way. I’d love it if you put it this way instead of telling me what’s not right, what you hated, what sucked. Any other thing like that, tell me what worked for you. Not what worked as a judgment, but just for you, what your perception is. It’s not a right or a wrong. It’s how you feel. What worked for you? What didn’t work for you?” That’s the tough part for a lot of people. What could be done differently, which is creative and it’s collaborative that we had some hard time at the beginning. He wasn’t keen on it, but he ultimately, after making fun, started to use it. It’s an effective way for us to give each other feedback. That’s not personal.
Two things related to that. When I’m training trainers and speakers, the question we have the audience give back to them is, what worked for me and what would have worked better? It’s like you’re getting a positive, what worked, and then it’s like what would have worked better? For me, we always say, “What would have worked better for me?” Some people might say, “I didn’t like your tone of voice so I want you to be softer.” Someone else said, “I want you to be more confident.” There are individual things that don’t always match up.
What’s the truth? There’s no one truth anyway.
When I first started asking for feedback when I was giving talks, when I was training teachers way back when I would give them a two-sided card. On the front of the card, it was what I loved about your session now and what my major takeaway was. On the back is what I didn’t like about it so much and what I would do differently. I would only read the front of the card on the way home when I’m usually sitting on the plane and only a week or two later when I read what was on the back. After I put on a whole day’s workshop and I give them my heart, I was not interested in hearing a lot of people tell me I should have taken more breaks, I didn’t smile enough.
You released me. When we get our feedback after events, our team will go out for dinner. We’ll bring the feedback forms to the dinner. I’m like, “Wait until we’ve eaten. Can we wait until dessert before we hit it?” It’s an energy. For the time, we’re young. We are trained to receive feedback in a certain way. Without overgeneralizing, a lot of people receive feedback as criticism and as judgment. They have been humiliated and shamed at many points in their lives, especially when they’re in school early on. Your example I don’t think could be better. Even the worst parent, we know there are some awful parents, probably should’ve had to apply for a license before they had kids.
Even those parents, nobody ever looks at their kid who’s crawling and falling down all the time and says, “That kid will never walk.” No parent would ever say that’s an impossibility. How many times do you have to fall to learn what’s required to stand, walk, run at some point? Maybe somebody might push back and go, “That’s one thing is walking and another thing is creating a business or succeeding in a book.” I’ll push right back on that. I want to ask you this, Jack. Are those two worlds different that the skills, tenacity, perseverance of the child that doesn’t take no for an answer and ultimately ends up walking as we all do? That same older child, but with grownup clothes, shoes, a better haircut and that person that will not take no for an answer when it comes to their dreams. Is there a difference?
It’s several things. People are born with different personalities. Some people are born with this stubbornness, you could call it astrological, maybe they’re tourists. You could call it past lives. A lot of people believe that you come in with that focus. I wrote a foreword to a book called The Boy Who Knew Too Much. It’s about a boy who everything we can tell he’s the reincarnation of Lou Gehrig, the baseball player. When he came in around six years old, he started saying, “Mom, when I was big like daddy, I used to play baseball.” She said, “Do you mean when you’re going to be big like that and you’re going? No, when I was big like that age, I’ll play baseball.”
He throws with the same hand as Lou Gehrig. He would only wear baseball uniforms to seven days a week. I have a picture from his mother of seven baseball uniforms going into the wash. He would cry if she made him wear anything else. Anyway, the book is compelling. If you love baseball, you should read it. One of the things was clear. He came in with a determination to get back up and play baseball. Do you remember Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS? A lot of these kids who come in with memories of past lives, they died young. They didn’t finish their life. They come back. They want to complete that life.
There’s a strong desire to either play the cello or play baseball or paint and we see these child prodigies. Kids are different. Some kids come in with a strong drive, a strong stubbornness. Other kids come in more malleable, maybe more intuitive, perhaps empathic, etc., and more easily swayed by the external world. I also think that a lot of kids are shamed very quickly. We all want our kids to learn to walk. That’s a given. Nobody doesn’t want that, but do we want our kids to be sexual? Do we want our kids to stand up and confront us? Do we want our kids to take risks that we don’t think are good?
Maybe they’re experimenting with alcohol or drugs or they want to go away from home or they want to join the Army when they’re eighteen and we don’t want them to? All of a sudden, we started shaming and say, “What’s wrong with you?” We don’t say, “You tried to do something. It didn’t work out. What did you learn from that?” which would be a way of coaching. There’s a wonderful book called Parenting is Coaching. It talks about when the kids are young. You teach them stuff. Here’s how you brush your teeth. You go through a stage where they’re 6, 7, 8, 9 and you’re a monitor. “Did you brush your teeth? Let me see.” You put them to bed.
At a certain point, you don’t have to tell your nineteen-year-old to brush your teeth. By then, she should have known. Often, we’re trying to tell them still things to do when we should be coaching them. I had this when my son wanted to throw a party. He was about fourteen or something like that, in middle school. He wanted the boys and girls to be at this party, which no parents should ever do by the way at that age. We had all the boys at one end of the house, all the girls at the other end of the house. My son wanted everyone to do what he wanted to do because it was his birthday party. They weren’t. They were kids that wanted to do what they wanted to do. He got pissed and he cried. He got angry. Everyone was talking to each other. In the middle of the night, the boys were trying to sneak over to the girls.
My wife had the left side of the house. I had the right sides so they couldn’t sneak around until everyone was asleep at about 4:30 in the morning. They never did it. The next morning, I didn’t say to my son, “You shouldn’t do this.” I said, “How was your party last night?” “It didn’t work out well.” “What’d you learn?” “I learned that I couldn’t tell people what to do. They’re not going to do it.” “Great, anything else you learned?” He told me 1 or 2 things. That’s it. I don’t have to lecture him. I don’t have to shame him. He already knew what didn’t work. We have to stop shaming kids. I remember I was in a church school in Sunday school. It was Christmas time and I was supposed to read a passage that said, “Jesus sprung from Mary’s womb.” I’d never seen that word.Fear is simply a fantasized experience of the future appearing real. Click To Tweet
The only word I saw was bomb. I learned to read phonetically. I look at it, I go, “Jesus sprung from Mary’s bomb.” Everybody laughed. I didn’t want to read in front of people for another year or two after that. I felt like I was shamed. Everyone laughed at me because I was inadequate at that moment. We have to learn and have people in our lives that say to us, “It’s okay to make mistakes. This is how you learn.” If our parents had done that and our coaches had done that, we got all these coaches who’d never made professional baseball players trying to turn these ten-year-olds into professionals so they could win so they can feel like they’re somebody.
I’ll tell you a story. One of my favorite stories ever, this is the best coach on the planet. This kid, he’s up to bat. It’s a tee-ball. He’s a young kid, maybe six or something. He hits the ball. He runs to third base and all the parents are freaking out. You could see the parents about to come and beat up on their kid and he says, “Johnny, you ran the third base and you ran fast. No one threw you out at third base. That was cool. The guy threw the ball down to first base. You were intense and you hit the ball hard.” He said, “I’m curious, why did you run to third base instead of first base like everyone else?” He said, “Everyone that runs the first base got thrown out. I thought I’d run to third base.”
He says, “That’s creative. I like the way you think. However, if you want to score points, and I’m sure you do, you need to run to first base. That’s how the game works. Tell me what you learned.” “I’m good. I’m fast. I hit the ball hard. I’m creative. If I want to get points, I’ve got to run to first base.” He said. “Great. What are you going to do next time?” “I’ll run to first base.” “Good, Johnny. Go and take a seat.” That’s great coaching, no shaming. If we grow up that way, we know that we can fail a business. We can put out a brochure that doesn’t work. We can redo it where website copy needs to be changed, whatever it might be. If we’re raised like in school, they do exes. Here’s where you were stupid, stupid. Instead of checking all the things, you red marker.
What do we do? We start learning to avoid getting zapped. Ken Blanchard, The One Minute Manager guy, said most people manage by zapping people when they do wrong. “You’re not wearing your safety helmet. Put your safety helmet on.” What do we do? Our whole life becomes to avoid getting zapped. We’re covering our ass. We’re afraid to take risks because we don’t want to screw up. Government workers, why does nothing work in the government well? You don’t get paid more to do good. You only get fired if you screw up. The thing is called don’t screw up. Why would I take a risk to help you move through the DMV faster if I’m going to get fired for doing something like that, staying open ten minutes more. Screw it. I’m going to basically say, “I’m not going to do that. I don’t care. I’m protecting my job as opposed to being creative.”
It’s a status quo. We know anything that stagnates. I know we’re going to wrap up here. This particular event, COVID, it is a thing that caught many people off guard. It has shaken things up and the status quo will never return to the way it was. It’s much like an Etch A Sketch. Yet in the midst of there being so much fear about this, it is the nature of the universe, that everything is constantly changing, the seasons, the days, all of it. It’s how things grow. It’s not to diminish the suffering that’s genuine and happening for a lot of people. It’s the most important catalyst for change that we’ve ever experienced. We don’t know exactly what it will all look like and we never will. We can see it as an opportunity and coach ourselves. Not much close a loop, but follow the thread of what you said and that is that we can be our own best coaches. Let’s be around people that can do that and help us as well.
One of my coaches a long time ago taught me when anything happens, it’s unexpected. You ask yourself the question, what’s the opportunity that this is? There’s always an opportunity. Remember Napoleon Hill said, “In every adversity, heartbreak or tragedy, there’s a seed of an equal or greater benefit.” Ask ourselves, we’re going to learn to be more compassionate. We’re going to learn what’s important. Our families being home a little more. I realize I’ve been on the road too much. I’ve been pushing myself too hard in my life, taking better care of myself, meditating more, exercising more, eating better, etc. We see that there are some inequities in our culture. Why are black people dying more from this thing? We’re seeing that the public health system doesn’t work for everybody.
The safety net isn’t there. Most people are living one paycheck away from tragedy. We’ve got a lot of things to take a long look at. The sky in LA is blue for the first time in a century. I saw that picture in Delhi with the sky blue and the sky all brown. I was in Mumbai for the whole month of February. I thought like, “How do people live here? They are polluted.” Now, it’s not. We’re beginning to see what’s possible. What should we be doing? Maybe we should be moving toward electric cars faster, getting off of fossil fuels, eating more intelligently. I saw someone saying, “The meat supply is going to be in danger.” Maybe everyone’s going to have to learn how to eat intelligently with a little less meat. That’s healthy for people and also more humane and compassionate.
Every tragedy, every adversity is an opportunity. Not to belittle the fact that my CEO’s brother-in-law died from COVID-19. My nephew has COVID-19. He’s still alive. We don’t know what’s going to happen there. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of tragedy. The other thing is only 2% to 4% of people will die from this. All the rest of us are going to have flu. It could be intense. It can be mild. It could be whatever. We have to remember that. Most of us are going to come through this, but let’s see what we’re learning and how we can pivot to use your conscious pivot concept. We have to pivot to create a better life for ourselves now and to create a better life for ourselves and each other in the future.
Jack, the last I always ask is, what are the things you do on a ritual basis to take better care of yourself? You answered that question. Is there one thing you would say if you wanted to impart a particular ritual that you have that you’d want to share with people now? Is there something else that you want to add to that?
I mentioned the hour of power of 20 minutes of meditation, 20 minutes of reading, 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise, like high-intensity interval training or aerobics. I’ll give a shout-out to one of the transformational leadership council members, Dawson Church, who teaches something called the EcoMeditation, which I’ve been teaching to all of my students. It’s a twenty-minute meditation that combines EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, tapping along with the HeartMath, breathing and some light moving through and some affirmations. I taught it to my sister. I had her go on Dawson’s thing. She called me later crying.
She said, “I feel much better now,” because it leaves you in a very high vibration. You want your vibration to be high. Your immune system is high when your vibration is high. You’re fighting off the virus. You’re probably not getting it this way. It’s good. It raises your immunoglobulins 113% in your saliva, which the Coronavirus has to go through your throat or mouth to get into your lungs. That’s a good thing. Go to EFTUniverse.com and you can do the EcoMeditation. I’ve been doing that every day. It has been powerful for me. People say on a scale of 1 to 10, how are you doing? I’m always a 9.5 or a 10 depending on what might’ve happened before they asked me that. That meditation is very powerful.
I’m on the phone with my dad, he’s 83 and we had done this resilience-athon. My dad participated in quite a bit of it. He had to tell me that Dawson’s meditation. Dawson Church was one of our facilitators and he loved his meditation. His podcast in sequence might be the one right before yours as it turns out, Jack. It’s a funny thing there, but there’s no question to me that creating our own piece to be in a peaceful state puts us in a much better position, not only to see the creative opportunities but to also not just whether this whole thing and not just to survive it, but to be present to where we’ll thrive. As you say, most people will be all right.
It would be great to go from being all right to looking back on this and seeing, “The changes I made to my life to be home with my kids, to be able to see my kids at dinner.” My dad and I were talking about it. Every night, we grew up in a one-bedroom apartment. Life wasn’t perfect or anything. I saw my parents, they saw me, we spoke every night at the dinner table. That was a constant. Many people right now, it’s been a long time since they had that constancy in their relationships. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s important. I’ve so enjoyed this conversation. As always, we’d love to get your feedback. You can go to AdamMarkel.com/podcasts to leave a comment. We’ll respond to you directly. You can leave a review, you can subscribe. We live on that feedback. Thank you for doing that. As we depart, I’m going to remind myself and remind all of you of the one waking ritual that I’ve had for several years. That pays many dividends and it’s simple. There are three parts to it. The first part is that we’ll wake up. Jack, did you wake up?
I did wake up. I always wake up.
We know there’s a wonderful metaphor in there. It’s not about physically waking up, but waking up our consciousness being a little bit more aware and awake every day. If we can do that, the trajectory is a good one for all of us. My prayer, my wish and my hope are that we all get to wake up again. In that moment, where we’re waking, where we’re taking that first conscious breath of the day can be aware of the fact that there are people taking their last breath at that moment. It’s a sacred moment. It makes it holy. Not religious or even spiritual, it’s something important. You can be grateful. Gratitude is sometimes difficult. In times like this, it can be difficult.
Step two, even for a few seconds, cultivate a feeling of being an appreciation for that breath, for your life, for your family, for others or anything. Lastly, the third step is to say something out loud. Jack and I were chatting about this statement that’s on my t-shirt. We have a lot of t-shirts with things that say I Am Resilient, Pivot, and different stuff like that. The words that we have that we say out loud and even the words that we display have a tremendous impact on us. The first words that come out of your mouth in the morning, at the beginning of the day, are important. Maybe you turn and you say, “I love you,” to the person lying next to you. Maybe you turn and look in the mirror at yourself and say, “I love you.” I say these four words are simple. They’ve worked miracles for me. Those words are, “I love my life.”
First of all, I love you and I love your wife. I love the life that you’ve created. I love the life I’ve created and I don’t want to end this without at least telling people where they can go to get my book, which is JackCanfield.com. There will be a pop-up screen because that’s what we’re doing is promoting The Success Principles Workbook. If you would like to do that and end up loving your life more, make sure you go to that website.
We’ll leave it there. I’d love to find out if you’ve got questions for Jack, questions for myself, please feel free to leave them with us and wake up tomorrow. Feel grateful and love your life, or say anything that feels right at the moment. We had a wonderful woman on our show and she wakes up. She says, “I wonder what miracles are coming.” I thought, “What a great way to start the day.” Jack, it’s always a pleasure. I know I’m not alone in saying we all appreciate you, so thank you.
Thanks for the opportunity to share. I appreciate it, Adam.
- The Greatest Salesman in the World
- Chicken Soup for the Soul
- The Billion Dollar Secret
- From Homeless to Billionaire
- 100 Ways to Enhance Self-Concept in the Classroom
- The Success Principles
- LuAnn Buechler – Previous episode
- Sheri Salata
- Business Network International
- The One Minute Manager
- The Boy Who Knew Too Much
About Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield is the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He has developed 42 New York Times bestsellers, and holds a Guinness Book World Record for having seven books on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously. Known as “America’s #1 Success Coach,” Jack has studied and reported on what makes successful people different. Over the last 40 years, his compelling message, empowering energy and personable coaching style has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals achieve their dreams. He has been a featured guest on more than 1,000 radio and television programs in nearly every major market worldwide. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.