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Have you ever gotten to the end of a self-help book and thought, "Was that it!"
Have you ever gone to a personal development seminar and said to yourself after it was over, "I already knew all that ... so how come I'm still not doing what I know I'm capable of!"
Have you ever felt totally ready to make positive changes in your life, and then, a few days or weeks later, found yourself doing the same old thing, falling back into self-defeating habits and self-sabotaging patterns!
If so, you have more company than you might think.
About a year ago, I saw a posting of an invitation to a teleconference about success. I remember being very annoyed about the timing. It was late in the evening and meant that I would have to stay in my office until around I0:00 P.M. and I wasn't looking forward to it. My voice of "reason" kept telling me that this was just going to be another one of those "Work harder and you will succeed" classes that I had been going to all my life. (I'd spent thousands of dollars on books, tapes, seminars and conferences, and none of them ever told me about anything that I wasn't already doing.)
This teleconference, though, was completely different. Finally, someone understood what I had been doing all my life. Please understand that outwardly, I was very "successful": I drove new cars, traveled, worked hard and made a good living. I had started a new job with an Internet marketing company that had really caught on fire. The only problem was that I couldn't really enjoy what was going on. I was being heaped with praise from co-workers and clients and my boss, but I didn't believe it à any of it. I would smile and thank people and then direct the praise to everyone else. I'd say things like, "Oh, thanks, but I couldn't have done it without so and so... he really did all the work, I just sold it." I didn't feel like I deserved any of the credit. I wouldn't allow myself the joy of succeeding.
In the teleconference, I heard some new ideas. Concepts such as "loving mirrors," "goal-free zones" and "giving myself permission to succeed." I felt as though someone had turned the lights on in a room where all there had been before was darkness. The room was beautiful! I was inspired ... finally someone understood that I knew "what" to do, but that I had never given myself "permission" to do it.
Within about four months, as a direct result of using the techniques that Noah had described in his teleconference, I was promoted to sales manager with nearly a 30 percent raise in my base salary. My commissions went through the roof. Finally, I was successful... or so I thought.
But there was still a hole inside. Many things in my personal life were weighing me down. It seemed like the more successful I became professionally, the more miserable I became inside. I tried harder and harder to do all the "right things" so my life would be perfect. Talk about an impossible goal! I kept resisting the next step with Noah. I knew what I needed to do, but I would not do it because I still didn't feel like I deserved to be truly happy and successful.
Now I was in an even worse position. The lights were all on and I could see just how beautiful everything was, but I still didn't feel like I deserved any of it. I still hadn't given myself permission to succeed.
So I called Noah. He was very encouraging, but I kept lying to him that everything was fine and that I was well on the way to being successful. You know what's even sadder than lying to a friend about being successful! Lying to yourself about it. Noah knew I was not telling the truth, but he didn't make me feel bad about it. You see, at work I was still bringing in new clients and getting all kinds of praise, but inside, I felt less and less deserving of any of it. Old habits die hard, and I continued resisting.
Over the next few months, I went back to the old theories of "work harder" à"make more calls" ... "go the extra mile" ... but I just couldn't get success anorexia and giving myself permission to succeed out of my mind.
In October I998, I arranged to meet with Noah at his office. We spent a great deal of time discussing how he discovered success anorexia and what he wanted to do to get the information to everyone who needed to hear about it. His conviction and excitement was contagious I was again inspired, but this time I bought the book (the one that he had self-published and sold through his Web site).
After thanking Noah for his hospitality I got back in my rental car for the drive back to New York and my flight home. I had the book in my possession and kept thinking about all the things Noah and I discussed I made it to the airport and waited to board my plane. I was planning to read the book during the flight, but pulled it from my briefcase and read the introduction. Tears filled my eyes as I read. Having met Noah, I felt the words speak directly to my soul. It was overwhelming I had to shut the book and put it away.
Less than one week later, I had been through the self-published version of Permission to Succeed at least four times. I now carry it in my briefcase wherever I go, in case I need to remember what's truly important in life. I called a friend two days after my visit with Noah. He said something that made me laugh and then he said, "Y'know, that's the first time I've ever heard you laugh." I was shocked. We tell each other jokes all the time and I distinctly remembered laughing at a joke he told me the, week before. I pointed this out to him, and he replied, "No, you don't understand, that's the first time you've really sounded happy when you did it."
Thank you, Noah, for sticking with me and helping me to finally understand. My journey and my life have finally begun. ...
I have a question for you. What do all of the following phrases have in common!
The obvious answer is, they are important parts of many people's lives. However, what they also have in common is that they all describe effects that can be produced by doing certain things in a certain way.
For example, if you want to have better relationships, one thing you can do is to become a better listener. To help you do that, there are dozens of books, tapes and seminars that will teach you "how to become a better listener." The same goes for every one of the above phrases, along with hundreds of other subjects, ranging from "how to buy a house" to "how to build your own computerö to ôhow to raise ostriches."
The kind of self-help literature that I'm talking about is what I call "traditional success literature"I5Ithat is, the "how-to" information that you've been reading for years.
The purpose of traditional success literature is to teach you how to do something that you want to learn how to do. For example, when we put the words "how to" in front of the phrases listed above, we can see that the vast majority of self-help and personal-development literature covers what I call the "how to's of success." That is, it shows you how to do something that most people deem to be important in their personal or professional lives (e.g., "how to be a better manager," "how to lose weight," "how to get what you want in relationships," etc.).
At the risk of stepping on a few toes here, however, there is a question about traditional success literature that needs to be answered; and it is simply this:
If millions of people have studied traditional success literature for years, and they have truly dedicated themselves to the study of successyet they still don't feel or are not successfulwhat does that tell us about traditional success literature?
There are three possible answers to this question. One possible conclusion is that people simply aren't trying hard enough to use the information they've been given. While this may indeed be the case with some people, it cannot be the case with all people who have tried to use this literature. In fact, the people I work with at The Success Clinic are among the hardest-working, most dedicated, intelligent, creative and committed people I've ever met. So I don't think that's the answer.
The second possibility is that traditional success literature is simply giving us the wrong information. Again, I don't think that's the case at all, because what's contained in most "how to succeed" books, tapes and seminars is actually very good material and can certainly help many people become more successful in life. (This is evidenced by the fact that it does work for many of the people who use it.)
What is it, then? If millions of people don't feel successful even after they've read and heard all the "how to succeed" information in the worldwhat does that tell us about traditional success literature?
The answer has nothing to do with either of the above factors: people not working hard enough or the information being wrong. The answer is that there is simply something missing from traditional success literatureand that without this missing piece, all of the hard work, good intentions and dedication in the world won't help a person succeed; and the best "how to" information on the planet will be rendered utterly useless.
What is this vital, essential piece of information that's been missing from traditional success literature all these years?
Before I answer that question, I'd like to share some words with you that were written by William James, who is often referred to as "the father of modern popular psychology." Near the beginning of the twentieth century, William James exploded onto the international stage by studying normal, healthy people and their responses to everyday life. He was the first person to take psychology out of the doctor's office and put it in the hands of regular people like you and me.
One of the most brilliant statements I've ever read about human beings came from the pen of William James. In The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy and Human Immortality, he wrote: "One thing is clear: when we talk about human beings, we can see that they are not driven by logic or reason. Ultimately, human beings are driven by their emotionsby their
In short, William James hit it right on the nose. We human beings are NOT run by the logical or reasonable part of ourselves; we are, in fact, run by what James called our passional naturethat part of us that isn't logical or rational; that is driven by emotions, desires and feelings; the part that feels pain, pleasure, ecstasy, anger, happiness, joy and loss.
Many people, particularly those of us raised in Western culture, tend to feel embarrassed or ashamed about the mere existence of our passional nature. Why? Perhaps because many of our Western societal institutions are built upon the premise that our passional nature is bad, wrong or immoral!
The question is, does it make sense to try and bury that part of us which makes us human! I'm not implying that we should run around like a bunch of crazed animals; I'm suggesting that many people refuse to even admit their passions exist (let alone that we are actually run by them), and that this refusal to accept or acknowledge who and what we really are has led to a lot of pain and unhappiness for more people than we can imagine. (The irony is that when we try to deny or bury our passional nature, we end up giving it more strength. We will explore this further in Part Two: The Condition.)
What does our being run by our passional nature have to do with our success? Only everything.
You see, when I discovered the existence of a condition that prevents smart, creative, talented people from allowing themselves to succeed (and you will see exactly how I discovered this condition, and what it means to you, in chapter 4), I realized that something simpleyet profoundhad been missing from traditional success literature all these years.
It is simply this:
There exists a population of men and womenintelligent, creative, sensitive, caring, compassionate peoplewho are not succeeding NOT because they don't have the intelligence, skill, talent, education, drive or persistence to succeed à
... NOT because they don't want to succeed à
àNOT because they have a "fear of success" ...
...NOT because they are "sabotaging themselves"à
àNOT because they don't try hard enough à
... NOT because they have to become more motivated ...
à NOT even because they don't know HOW to succeedà
These individuals are not succeeding for only one reason:
They have never given themselves permission to succeed.
There is only one reason this book was written.
It isn't to teach you how to succeed, because you already know how to succeed.
It isn't to give you the latest tips, techniques or strategies of success, because you already know enough of them to be more successful than you can possibly imagine.
It isn't to motivate you, because you already have all the motivation you will ever need to get everything you've ever wanted.
It isn't to tell you to "think positively," because you've heard it a million times before yet you're still wondering why it doesn't seem to work the way it's advertised.
It isn't to get you to try something strange or weird, although you know that if you do the same thing over and over again, you'll get the same results.
The point is, you already know all of these things, and you don't need to hear them again from me. No. This book was written for only one reason.
This book was written so that you will finallyonce and for allgive yourself permission to succeed.
Because if you don't... you will never, and you can never, succeed.
If everybody wants to succeed, why do so many of us stop ourselves from getting the very thing we want most in life?
(c) Noah St. John, 1999. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of Health Communications, Inc. from Permission to Succeed, by Noah St. John. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.