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PEARLS of WISDOM
30 Inspirational Ideas to Live Your Best Life Now!
By Jack Canfield, MARCI SHIMOFF, JANET BRAY ATTWOOD, CHRIS ATTWOOD
Hierophant PublishingCopyright © 2012 Jack Canfield, Marci Shimoff, Janet Bray Attwood, Chris Atwood, et al.
All rights reserved.
Inspired Action Gets It Done
by Jack Canfield
I have had an enormous amount of success in my life, and I owe it all to two things. The first is that I have learned how to access my intuition and tune in to my inner guidance (which comes from both my own subconscious mind and from God); I have learned how to meditate, use guided visualization, and read the kinesthetic signals from my body (what some people call learning to trust your gut). The second is that I have learned to quickly act on my inner guidance—the sooner the better!
The Power of Asking for Inner Guidance
Asking for inner guidance through meditation has provided me with some very powerful ideas, ones that have accelerated the rate and magnified the size of my personal and professional success. When we needed a title for the book of inspirational and motivational stories that Mark Victor Hansen and I had compiled, I agreed to meditate an hour a day in search of the perfect title. I simply asked God to give me a title, then I sat in silence waiting for it. Nothing emerged the first two days, but on the third day, a green chalk board, like the ones used in schools, suddenly emerged. Then a hand appeared and wrote the words "Chicken Soup" on the board. I contemplated that for a moment, then I asked what I assumed was God's hand: "What does chicken soup have to do with this book?"
I heard, "Your grandmother used to give you chicken soup when you were sick as a kid."
I replied, "But this book isn't about sick people."
The voice responded, "People's spirits are sick."
This was in 1992 during the recession that accompanied the first Gulf War, and many people were indeed living in fear, hopelessness, and resignation.
I played with the title "Chicken Soup for the Spirit," which didn't sound quite right, and then it morphed into "Chicken Soup for the Soul" ... and I immediately got goose bumps—what Mark likes to call God bumps. They almost always seem to accompany an idea that is deeply aligned with what is for my highest good.
I immediately got up from meditation and told my wife, who got goose bumps. Then I called Mark, who got goose bumps, and our agent, who also got goose bumps. By the end of the day the full title had emerged—Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit. It seemed we were definitely onto something.
Inspiration Must Be Followed by Action
Sometimes inspirations occur without our even seeming to ask for them. Other times, we have to ask for them, then create the quiet space within which to receive them. They can occur while lying in bed in a semiconscious dream state, while taking a shower, or while walking along a beach or through the woods. But however and whenever they come, they need to be acted on as soon as possible. I have come to believe that when they come, they come in a certain window of time that is ideally suited for the action to begin at that moment.
So Mark, our agent, and I headed off to New York City to sell our book. Unfortunately, during the three days we were in New York City, no one at the fifteen publishing houses we visited got goose bumps. Everyone told us that nobody bought collections of short stories and that our title was stupid. Our agent became so discouraged that he gave us the book back and said he could not sell it.
Action Must Be Consistent and Persistent
That is when we had to choose between believing in our dream and trusting our inner guidance or believing the naysayers in the publishing industry and trusting their judgments. Well, one of the secrets of success that I have learned is to never give up on the dreams that come from deep in your heart. In fact, by this time, our dream had become more of a divine obsession. We couldn't let it go. So we took more action. Over the next five months, we were rejected by 144 publishers. Eventually, we went to the American Booksellers Association Convention and walked the floor of the exhibit area for three days asking hundreds of publishers, "Will you publish our book?" It was not until late in the third day that Health Communications, Inc., a little publisher in Deerfield Beach, Florida, decided to seriously look at our book. A month later they decided to publish it.
The Rule of Five
When the book finally came out in July 1993, it was not an overnight success. It wasn't until a year later that it hit its first bestsellers list. But it was during that year that Mark and I came up with what we dubbed the Rule of Five. We agreed to take five action steps every single day, except on holidays and vacations, to promote and sell our book. One day, we called five radio stations and asked them to interview us about the book. On another, we sent out five free review copies to book reviewers and influential people. One of those people was the producer of the hit television show Touched by an Angel. She was so taken by the book that she required all of her writers, directors, cameramen, and other crew members to read the book. She said that the feelings generated and evoked by our stories were the same ones she wanted to create in their TV episodes. That story made it into Variety and later onto the Associated Press wire and generated thousands of book sales. We also bought the book 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, by John Kremer, and wrote each way on a Post-it note and stuck them all on a long wall in our office. We did five of those suggestions every day. Eventually, Chicken Soup for the Soul reached number one on the New York Times list and stayed there for almost three years, selling ten million copies along the way.
Stop for a moment and ask yourself, "What are the five action steps that I need to take every day—no matter what—to achieve my number one goal?" If your top goal is to lose fifty pounds, it might be: 1) do some form of aerobic exercise for forty-five minutes; 2) drink ten glasses of water a day; 3) lift weights for fifteen minutes; 4) meditate for fifteen minutes; and 5) read something or listen to a CD about motivation or weight loss for fifteen minutes. Other options are do not eat dessert, do not eat sugar, cut out all fast-burning carbohydrates, take a walk after dinner, and get eight hours of sleep. In this case, you would do the same five things, or a combination from a list of ten things, every single day.
The Rule of Five can also be applied to your professional goals. One example is the Keller-Williams's 5-10-15-5 formula. They swear that anyone who uses this formula will have success in real estate sales. Have five in-person meetings with potential property listers or potential buyers. Have ten telephone conversations. Send out fifteen thank-you cards to the people you met with. Then go view five properties that are for sale so that you are very familiar with the inventory available. Everyone I know in real estate sales who follows this formula has indeed been very successful.
Not All Actions Produce Instant or Perfect Results
Not everything you try is going to work. Remember the Law of Probabilities, which states that the more things you try, the more likely one of them will work; the more books you read, the more likely one of them will change your life; the more people you meet, the more likely one of them will have the answer or be the relationship you are looking for.
Solicit and Respond to Feedback
To keep moving forward toward your dreams and goals, pay attention to the feedback you receive and adjust accordingly. Positive feedback consists of good health, many good friends, lots of sales, plenty of money, fun, joy, and happiness. Negative feedback consists of ill health, physical pain, few friends, few sales, no job, debt, constant anger, and depression. All these negatives tell you that you are not thinking the right thoughts, visualizing the right images, or taking the right actions. Pay attention. Don't go into denial. Face up to what isn't working.
The fastest way to accelerate your success is to ask for feedback from as many people as possible, thank them for it, and act on as much of it as makes sense. Here is a very powerful question for soliciting useful feedback that I learned from Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of (our product, my service, the installation, me as a parent, me as a spouse, me as an employee, etc.) this past week/month?
Anything less than a 10, gets this follow-up question: What would it take to make it a 10?
It is in the answer to this last question that all the valuable information lies. Have the courage to ask this question of everyone you interact with on a regular basis. No matter how painful or discomforting their answer is, say, "Thank you for caring enough to share that with me." Don't argue with them. Just take in the feedback, see if it fits, and experiment with trying on some new behaviors.
Finally, never give up. Make corrections based on feedback so that you are constantly improving and getting better, but don't give up. If we had stopped trying to sell the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book after one hundred rejections, I would not be sitting here writing this today. If we had stopped trying to promote, market, and sell the book after six months of no major results, I would not be a multimillionaire who has traveled to more than forty countries speaking and training people on the principles contained in that book and my other books.
It has taken more than fifteen years to build a brand that has generated more than a billion dollars in retail sales and has created more than twenty licensed products, including Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul dog and cat foods. So also be patient.
If you follow your heart, believe in your dreams, trust your inner guidance, take action, solicit and respond to feedback, and persevere no matter what, you will eventually find yourself living a life far greater than you ever could have imagined.
* * *
Jack Canfield is the co-creator and coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, which has sold more than 500 million books in forty-seven languages, and The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. He has appeared in eight films, including The Secret, The Truth, Tapping the Source, and Discover the Gift. He is the CEO of the Canfield Training Group in Santa Barbara, California, and is a much sought-after speaker who conducts transformational trainings and delivers dynamic keynote speeches all across the world.
You can find out more about him and his work at www.JackCanfield.com.CHAPTER 2
The Secret to Living a Passionate Life
By Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood
Most people know that passion is common to all successful people. The power of the Passion Test lies in the fact that now, for the first time, discovering your passions is not hit or miss. Passion is no longer something available to only the lucky few.
Through a simple yet powerful process, anyone can discover the things that matter most to them in their lives.
But the question then remains, is that enough to be successful?
The answer is no.
What distinguishes those who have enjoyed enduring success in their fields from everyone else is that they have learned to make their passions the basis of every significant decision in their lives. As we say in our book The Passion Test: "Whenever you are faced with a choice, a decision, or an opportunity, choose in favor of your passions."
This is what we call the "secret that guarantees a passionate life."
Like most fundamental truths, it's easy to say but more challenging to put into practice. Why? Because when you are faced with important decisions, rarely will you know what the outcome will be, and often it will appear that choosing in favor of your passions could lead to disaster.
Because of this, there is one crucial quality that anyone who wants to live a happy, joyful, fulfilling, and successful life has to develop: trust.
Trust grows as you come to realize that it's not an accident that you love the things you do. Those things, those passions, exist because they are what will lead you to fulfill your purpose for being alive. When your life is connected to those passions, it feels meaningful, and when your life has meaning, it is fulfilling.
Ultimately, living a joy-filled life means coming to trust that life is beneficent. That means every experience, every person, every situation in your life is there to help you open up to the fullest possible experience of yourself and your life.
Choosing in favor of your passions is the key to success in life, but is it scary? You bet! Especially when everyone around you is saying that you can't do it, it won't work, you're being crazy, etc. And take our word for it, you're not alone. All successful people have those naysayers in their lives.
Janet chose in favor of her passion to become a transformational leader when she made the decision to leave her position as director of marketing at Books Are Fun, the third largest book buyer in the U.S., to partner with Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen. She left a comfortable, six-figure income with benefits to step into a role with no guaranteed income and no idea whether she could do what was needed.
Did that take courage? Absolutely.
How did it turn out?
Ten years later, Janet is a New York Times bestselling author, she travels around the world sharing her passion and her love, and she runs her own multimillion-dollar business.
But what if she had stayed at Books Are Fun?
Over the past ten years, the company was sold to Reader's Digest, which then went through some hard times, and the new company dwindled dramatically in size. If Janet had stayed there, the odds are she would have ended up being laid off just like most of the other employees that she had worked with.
You can't know how things will turn out when you choose in favor of your passions. That's why it takes courage to make those choices. But as you begin to make them, you will start to discover how the miraculous becomes a regular part of your own life.
When Chris married a beautiful German woman in 2006, his new wife told him, "It's really important to me that we spend at least four to six months a year in Europe."
Now, if Chris hadn't been clear about his passions, this could have been an impossible choice. He could either go with his wife to Europe and risk losing all of his income-producing activities in the U.S., or he could stay in the U.S. and risk losing his wife.
What kind of choice is that?
But Chris takes the Passion Test regularly and was completely clear about his top five passions. While his business activities were on that list, spending time with his new wife was the priority. So, when his wife told him this, his immediate response was: "Of course we'll do that."
In the first year of their marriage, Chris and Doe spent a month in the Canary Islands, two months in Switzerland, and several months in Germany. They had a fabulous time.
Did Chris give up his love for his business activities? No. But he rearranged his schedule to spend time with his family in the mornings, then work in the afternoon and evening when he could connect with people in the U.S.
Interestingly, during that year, the business did better than it ever had, and since then, the business has continued to grow, in spite of the fact that Chris will spend almost nine months in Europe this year.
Could he have known this would be the outcome ahead of time? No.
And you won't know your outcomes, either. When it's time to choose in favor of your passions, you are going to be forced to trust that things will work out okay.
Our suggestion is to take baby steps every day in the direction of the things you love.
Excerpted from PEARLS of WISDOM by Jack Canfield, MARCI SHIMOFF, JANET BRAY ATTWOOD, CHRIS ATTWOOD. Copyright © 2012 Jack Canfield, Marci Shimoff, Janet Bray Attwood, Chris Atwood, et al.. Excerpted by permission of Hierophant Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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