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The Success Principles

By Jack Canfield



In writing this book, author Jack Canfield aims to give the reader the knowledge and understanding they need to get from where they are in life to where they want to be. In the form of 67 principles, he shares everything he has learned about increasing confidence, tackling daily challenges, living with passion and purpose, and realising dreams and ambitions. Using personal stories of achieving his own success alongside inspirational stories of CEOs, elite athletes, celebrities, and everyday people, he and co-author Janet Switzer paint a vivid picture of what it takes for anyone to transform their life beyond their wildest dreams.  

My Top 3 Takes from the Summary

  • You have control over only three things in your life – the thoughts you think, the images you visualise, and the actions you take (your behaviour).

  •  If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.

  • One of the great things about living in today’s world of abundance and opportunity is that almost everything you want to do has already been done by someone else… mastermind your way to success.


How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.

The 67 principles set out by the author are principles he has studied, taught, and lived by for over three decades, and they are principles he believes successful people from all walks of life have used throughout history. In short, success is identifying what you want, believing that you deserve to have what you want, and then acting on your belief to achieve what you want. The information is presented in six parts, with each part providing in-depth layers of wisdom, practical advice, and exercises designed to help the reader act on everything they learn to achieve their own success.

  1. The Fundamentals of Success

  2. Transform Yourself for Success

  3. Build Your Success Team

  4. Create Successful Relationships

  5. Success and Money

  6. Success in the Digital Age


Each part is split into numerous chapters, and each one of those chapters is a suggested principle of success to live by.



Part 1:


The main message in this part of the book is the need to “take 100% responsibility of your life.” The author states that we have control over only three things in our lives, and they are the thoughts we think, the images we visualise, and the actions we take – meaning our behaviours. Chapters encourage the reader to get clear on what it is they really want in life, and then to believe in themselves and the possibility of achieving those things. He promotes the Law of Attraction, explaining its power by writing: Stated in its most basic form, the Law of Attraction says, what you think about, talk about, believe strongly about, and feel intensely about, you will bring about. Visualisation is explained in a chapter titled ‘See What You Want, Get What You See’, and the author writes: One of the easiest ways to begin clarifying what you truly want is to make a list of 30 things you want to do, 30 things you want to have, and 30 things you want to be before you die. This is a great way to get the ball rolling.


He also gives the following advice on creating a vision of success: To create a balanced and successful life, your vision needs to include the following seven areas: work and career, finances, recreation and free time, health and fitness, relationships, personal goals, and contribution to the larger community… If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.


Part 1 includes over 20 insightful chapters, including:

  • Be Clear Why You’re Here

  • Believe It’s Possible

  • Unleash The Power of Goal-Setting

  • Take Action

  • Commit to Constant and Never-Ending Improvement

  • Exceed Expectations



Part 2:


Part 2 begins with the principle, ‘Drop Out of the “Ain’t It Awful Club… and Surround Yourself with Successful People.’ The message here is that keeping your focus on what you don’t want in life and what isn’t working for you can only ever bring more of the same into your life. By surrounding yourself with positive thinkers and those who have already achieved goals and ambitions, you gain from the positively charged energy they bring. He states: Complaining is an ineffective response to an event that does not produce a better outcome. Learn to replace complaining with making requests and taking action that will achieve your desired outcomes. If you find yourself in a situation you don’t like, either work to make it better or leave.

He makes the point that everything we experience today is the result of choices we have made in the past, and the only thing that will change our results is to change our behaviour. He writes: The day you change your responses is the day your life will begin to get better!

Part 2 includes over 10 more wise principles, including:

  • Acknowledge Your Positive Past

  • Face What Isn’t Working

  • Embrace Change

  • Transform Your Inner Critic into an Inner Coach

  • Transcend Your Limiting Beliefs

  • Fuel Your Success with Passion and Enthusiasm



Part 3:


The information presented in ‘build your success team’ is a reminder that no one makes it to the top on their own. He advises readers to create a network of mentors and other people with relevant experience who will help to ‘up-level’ them. He writes: One of the great things about living in today’s world of abundance and opportunity is that almost everything you want to do has already been done by someone else… mastermind your way to success.

Chapter titles in Part 3 include:

  • Stay Focused on Your Core Genius

  • Build a Powerful Support Team and Delegate to Them

  • Become a Leader Worth Following



Part 4:


The main message in this part of the book is that you need to treat others in the way you would want to be treated yourself if you are to attract the people and things you need to succeed in your life. The author writes: If you choose to live by a higher set of standards, you get to watch people respond enthusiastically toward you. When you establish a higher level of personal standards, not only do you get better treatment from those around you, but suddenly you also begin attracting others with the same elevated standards…


Successful people speak words of inclusion rather than words of separation, words of acceptance rather than words of rejection, and words of tolerance rather than words of prejudice. Always ask yourself, ‘Is what I am about to say going to advance the cause of my vision, mission, and goals? Will it uplift the hearer? Will it inspire, motivate, and create forward momentum? Will it dissolve fear and create safety and trust? Will it build self-esteem, self-confidence, and a willingness to risk and take action?’ If not, find words that will, or keep silent.


Principles in this section of the book include:

  •  Be Here Now

  • Tell the Truth Faster

  • Practice Uncommon Appreciation

  • Keep Your Agreements



Part 5:

In this part of the book, the author explains what it means to ‘develop a positive money consciousness.’ He reminds readers that the life they are currently living is the result of the thoughts they have thought, the choices they have made, and the actions they have taken in the past. He writes: To become wealthy, you’ll need to surface, identify, root out, and replace any negative or limiting beliefs you may have about money.

Offering practical words of advice, he comments: Ask yourself if what you’re buying is a need or a want. There is a big difference.

Principles in part 5 chapters include:

  • You Get What You Focus On

  • Pay Yourself First

  • Master The Spending Game

  • To Spend More, First Make More

  • Give More to Get More

  • Find a Way to Serve




Part 6:


The advice shared in this part of the book becomes evident through the chapter titles. They are:

  • Master the Technology You Need

  • Brand Yourself with an Online Persona

  • Use Social Media in a Way That Enhances Your Reputation

  • Use the Exponential Power of Crowdfunding

  • Connect with People Who Can Expand Your Vision


At the time of publication (2005), technology was changing rapidly. The author included this section to encourage readers to take advantage of the latest advances and utilise digital resources. He makes the point that successful people actively cultivate an online presence and build a brand for themselves and what they stand for. However, alongside sharing practical advice and tips on building a brand for themselves, he also warns readers of the potential to become overwhelmed with an information overload, recommending the need for a ‘low-information diet’ at times.   




Jack Canfield writes: If you are going to become more successful, you have to get out of denial and face what isn’t working in your life… Everything you think, say, and do needs to become intentional and aligned with your purpose, your values, and your goals… When you do something you love with passion and perseverance, you are already a success.

The success principles he details in the book give the reader the knowledge and understanding needed to make changes for the better in life and to get on their own path to success. Although providing a huge supply of inspirational and actionable advice, he makes it clear that change isn’t always going to be easy. After all, the first fundamental principle of success is to take full responsibility of your life, and a key teaching in the book is that what you think about, talk about, believe strongly about, and feel intensely about, you will bring about. He writes: Ask yourself, ‘what is the why underneath what I am doing?’ If you can get in touch with that, it is a lot easier to get enthusiastic about whatever it is that you have to do.





The examples given in the form of stories and personal anecdotes help to build understanding and hammer home the key messages, and they also make it a book that’s easy to read and return to whenever a motivational boost may be required. In one example, he writes: My earliest mentor was once described as an inverse paranoid. Instead of believing the world was plotting to do him harm, he chose to believe the world was plotting to do him good. Instead of seeing every difficult or challenging event as a negative, he saw it for what it could be – something that was meant to enrich him, empower him, or advance his causes.



Bio of the Authors


Jack Canfield is an American motivational speaker, author, corporate trainer, and entrepreneur. He is best known as the co-creator of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series, which he wrote with Mark Victor Hansen, and holds the Guinness World Record for having seven books on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously. He received a BA in Chinese History from Harvard University and a master’s degree from University of Massachusetts, and worked as a teacher, a workshop facilitator, and a psychotherapist. As an entrepreneur, he founded Self Esteem Seminars, with the stated mission of training entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, and employees to achieve their personal and professional goals, and The Foundation for Self Esteem to train social workers, welfare recipients, and human resource professionals.

Janet Switzer is an American marketing expert, speaker, and coach. She has counselled over 50,000 companies and entrepreneurs worldwide and is founder and editor of Leading Experts, an e-news magazine.


The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield with Janet Switzer, 2005, ISBN: 978-0-007-19508-4 is available to buy at Amazon.


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