BANGALORE: While there are many success stories that stir deep emotions within the people, it was the success story that author and America’s biggest success coach - Jack Canfield narrated, that inspired all Bangaloreans. In an tete-e-tete with City Express, the co-originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series recalls the success of the series globally, the Indian chicken soup series and also advises on how to succeed and motivate oneself.
What is the story behind the success of Chicken Soup across the globe?
JC: I believe that people make their own luck by great preparation and good strategy. In my book, the Success Principles, I write about the Rule of 5. This is what we used to move you towards the completion of our goal. So every day for the 14 months before we hit the New York Times bestseller list we would make 5 phone calls to newspapers to review the book. We would send out 5 free copies of the book to reviewers. Once we sent copies to all the producers of TV shows like ‘Touched by An Angel’ and when the producer got a hold of the book, they required everyone on their staff, including the cameramen, script writers and actors to read it. That story reached the Hollywood Reporter which printed it and then it went out to syndication and appeared in many more newspapers all across the United States. We made a post-it for each of the 1000 ways and put it on a wall, where our commitment was to do everything in the book and then remove each post-it until we were finished. It took us the better part of a year to do it.
How did you conceptualise the Chicken Soup series?
JC: People started asking me, “Is that story you told about the Girl Scout who sold more than 3000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in a book anywhere? My daughter needs to read it.” Or “That story about the blind man who climbed Mount Everest-is it in a book anywhere?” I had to answer, “No, it is not.” Finally, I realised that I needed to put all of these stories into a book.
It took almost two years from that point to complete the book and get it published. The fact that book shares experiences of people I think has played a significant role in the success of the series.
At the end of the first book, we simply wrote, “If you have a great story that you think might inspire or empower someone else if they read it, send it in and maybe we’ll publish a second book."
As a result the series has more than 200 titles with more than 500 million copies in print.
How does the concept of self-motivation work in crisis situation?
JC: Any crisis can be dealt with by asking 3 simple questions. What stands between you and what you most desire? Your answers might relate to a lack of money, time, support from family, or all of these. Crisis can seem so numerous, so obvious, and so tough to change.
Typical responses are to explain them or resist them. Both responses take a lot of time and energy. And both anchor you firmly in the past, keeping your focus on areas of your life that are not working, and this is where self-motivation helps. When faced with crisis, people often respond with questions based on explanation and resistance. However, you always have another option. You can ask questions that help you drive around any crisis in your life.
Questions have uncanny power. Questions direct your attention- and along with it, how you think and how you feel. Successful people hold a bias for action.
India recently initiated the Chicken Soup series, how well has that been received?
JC: India has been a country that has sold millions of Chicken Soup books and now created its own series of Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul books. I had not foreseen that there would be a book such as the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul. The country has given us a fantastic response. They find inspiration, motivation, hope and guidance in the books, which is very gratifying.
Could you share with our readers, some success stories and throw light on what indeed makes successful people different?
JC: The only difference between successful and not so successful individuals - is their mind. Too many people are focused on what they don’t want. We talk about anti-drug programs and the anti-war rally, anti-pregnancy programs in the schools. We say, “I’m going to stop smoking.” Well, all the energy is focused on smoking. How about, “I’m going to develop a totally healthy, pure lifestyle.”
The problem is that as you’re describing your current reality, you’re also creating your future reality. That’s why people who complain and moan about the way things are, keep recreating more of the same.
Could you explain if different work environment entails different human relations concepts?
JC: In a way, the market place or different countries is just a vague and sometimes ambiguous idea. It refers in a general way to trillions of dollars of goods, services and products by billions of people across the planet.
People are different, but their minds can be controlled in the same way. You can’t always count on the people around you, but you can always rely on yourself. Remember, you have absolute control over three things in your life: The thoughts you think, The images you visualize and the actions you take (including what you say to others). How was your experience with Indian audiences this time?
JC: I am visiting India after a decade and I’m sure a lot has changed in the country. The tour is based on my most recent book release - The Success Principles.
I have touched upon 64 principles of success which can help one take control of their life and become the happy successful person they know they are meant to be.
What is your advice to those who undergo dissatisfaction, depression? JC: Any dissatisfaction and depression that one experiences is because one has agreed to accept the pressure without questioning or confronting it.
Most worthwhile goals are not achieved overnight. It takes time to build a solid foundation for long-term success.
Every time you violate your own values, you lower your self-esteem, and the hole cannot be filled with more money, prestige or power. True self-esteem comes from doing the right thing, living in integrity and being true to yourself. It may take longer but it also lasts longer.
What are your future plans?
JC: We look at continuing with the Chicken Soup series of books. Some books coming out soon are Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and Chicken Soup for the Soul for Grandmothers.