Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles, explains a system that he used to promote his book, Chicken Soup for the Soul. Today we are all familiar with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and the incredible success that Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen experienced as the authors but success didn’t happen overnight for them. Jack explains the system they used helped them reach that tremendous level of success as more of a slow and consistent process.
In The Success Principles he provides insight:
“We sought the advice of Ron Scolastico, a wonderful teacher, who told us, ‘If you would go every day to a very large tree and take five swings at it with a very sharp ax, eventually, no matter how large the tree, it would have to come down.’ How very simple and how very true! Out of that we developed what we have called the Rule of 5. This simply means that every day, we do five specific things that will move our goals toward completion.”
There are several key takeaways from this information. First, what he is describing is a system that he used to consistently work towards his goals. Second, he didn’t focus on other people to determine his measurement he only focused on himself. Third, the system emphasized consistent action that would help him to move closer to his ultimate purpose which was to sell books and positively impact readers’ lives. Lastly, the system was simple enough for him to keep following it.
If you have a goal that you are trying to reach, start to think about it from this systematic mindset. I always feel that the way to reach a goal is by addressing the underlying systems and habits that most people ignore but that truly determine success or failure. If you want to write a book, focus on writing every day, even if only for a very short time. If you want to get healthy start to exercise every day, even if only for 10 minutes. If you want to get out of debt, create a budget and make sure that you stay within that budget every day. For Jack Canfield he did 5 actions that would help promote his new book. Regardless of the goal, the system you create or the system that you modify is going to be the most impactful factor that you can control when reaching for a new height.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when creating a system to achieve their goal is to structure their measurement of the goal on other people. They will say their goal is to sell their product but only use sales as the measurement. This doesn’t give them the drive and action and instead becomes an easy way to sit back and wait for things to happen. Or, they say that their income will become the pathway to getting out of debt and focus on their boss giving them more money, rather than focusing on what they can truly control, which may be to adjust their work habits. By using a measurement that reflects what YOU can do, you will shift your focus and continue with the system even when you don’t see immediate results.
Consistent action is the best way to move towards your goals. Strategy, planning and preparedness matter but without consistent action you will start to become someone that can talk a good game but can’t execute. To me this reflects Byrd Baggett’s description of integrity, “Integrity is: doing what you said you would do, when you said you would do it, and how you said you would do it.” Instead of focusing on the goal, focus on the consistent action that you can take which will lead you towards success. Do what you say you will do and focus on what you know will help you get where you want to go.
Keep it simple. If you develop an overly complex system right away you will never follow it. Start out as simple as possible in order to turn the behavior into a habit. As long as you build the habit first, you can then increase the effort in order to maximize the positive habit you created. As was said in the Tao Te Ching 2500 years ago, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Look to other systems that have been successful when developing the systems and habits in your life. The best thing about addressing the systems in your life is that, if you do it right, you won’t have to keep addressing them. They will become automatic and part of the everyday habits you already utilize to live your life. This is how you leverage success in one area of your life in order to transform all aspects of your life. Start simple and work systematically until you are moving in the direction that you want to go to become who you want to become!