Jack Canfield’s ‘no-fail’ success theory

3 min read ·


You don't have to be Einstein to apply this success theory to your business. But, trust us, the results can be nothing short of brilliant.

In 1992, after significant time laboring over a title for his new book, Jack Canfield thought of the name, Chicken Soup for the Soul. He recalls getting goose bumps and a feeling of certainty that this book title would carry his labor of love into the hearts of people around the world. Even his co-author, Mark Victor Hanson, Canfield's associates, friends, and family were enamored. Yet 144 publishers and 14 months later, that certainty faded to doubt and concern.

Committed to his life principles, Canfield persevered and convinced a publisher in Florida that his book would certainly sell a few thousand copies. Today, Chicken Soup for the Soul has become an international brand with over five hundred million books sold.

"I have lived by one crucial principle since I was 24 years old," says Canfield. Taken under the wing of self-made millionaire, philanthropist, and author, W. Clement Stone in the '60s, Canfield learned that assuming 100% of the responsibility for his life is key to happiness and success.

"I don't blame or complain about things like the economy, the government, taxes, employees, gas prices, or any of the external things that I don't have control over," says Canfield. "The only thing I have control over is my response to these things." Canfield calls this principle E+R=O. Today, he and his staff live by it.

First, take the E (for "event"): What is going on around you? We are living in a "bad economy" and, individually we have no control over that. "It's how we respond to this recession that produces the outcome, not complaining that our results are poor because of it," Canfield says. "We have to constantly change our response to these events to create better outcomes."

Then, add the R (your "response"): According to Canfield's principle, there are only three "R's" that you have any control over: your thoughts, the images that you hold in your head (visualizations, worries, fears and fantasies), and your behavior (what you say and do). Change these images, fears and your behavior and the events will no longer control you or your outcomes.

Then imagine the O (for "outcome"): Visualize what you want to happen, rather than the negative outcome that you believe your environment will produce, and take action accordingly. You cannot control your outcome but you can influence it strongly.

But to successfully apply the E+R=O theory, you must have a pretty good idea of what you want out of life. Canfield believes that everyone is born with a unique life purpose. "It's not an accident that musicians become musicians and engineers become engineers, it's what they're born to do," he says. "If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily." Straying from your purpose into areas that you don't know much about, and don't feel passionate about, will not produce the results you're looking for–and you must be willing to work hard and burn the midnight oil to capture your dream.

"I worked from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. every night for a year to write the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book," Canfield recalls. The willingness to pay the price and understand and commit to your priorities is a necessary trait for those who desire success.

As a reminder of his priorities, Canfield keeps a sticky note in his office identifying one of his top operating strategies: The Rule of Five. "Know your priorities and identify the five powerful action steps that you intend to take to move your initiatives forward each day," suggests Canfield. "If you go to a tree with an ax and take five whacks at the tree every day," he explains, "it doesn't matter if it's an oak or a redwood; eventually the tree has to fall down."

But success strategies will only take you so far if you are emotionally "stuck." Many people simply don't take action on their dreams—despite knowing what the steps should be. It's not uncommon for entrepreneurs to feel stuck, even paralyzed, by fear, the negative impact of past events, and even life trauma. Canfield has increased results for his audience and clients by an astonishing amount since he incorporated the powerful method known as the Emotional Freedom Techniques into his teaching regime some six years ago.

"We literally help people transform their lives and businesses with EFT," says Canfield. In his recent book, Tapping Into Ultimate Success: How to Overcome Any Obstacle and Skyrocket Your Results, Canfield and his co-author, Pamela Bruner, teach their readers to eliminate what they call "stoppers" so they can achieve their vision, purpose and goals.

"Overcome your barriers, intend the best, and be patient," Canfield says. "You will enjoy more balance, more growth, more income, and more fun!"

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