Either Way, You Win

Live as if you’re going to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you’re going to live forever. – Mahatma Gandhi

I recently told a business associate that I tend to read a book a week.

To say that they were impressed is a bit of an understatement.  Shocked is more like it.  How on earth can anyone find time to read a book a week?

Well to be perfectly honest it’s not exactly a book a week.  More like 50 pages a day.  That works out to between 250 and 350 pages every seven days.  We aren’t talking about War & Peace here.  Or Adam Smith’s 900 page opus, The Wealth of Nations. I’ve found that the average hard cover non-fiction book on just about any topic runs between 200 and 400 pages.  50 pages a day therefore is about a book a week.

I have learned that in order to be successful in life and business you need to be a life long learner. The world is changing so rapidly that we need to be constantly learning new things to keep up.  My chosen field of work, the financial services industry, is no exception.  But when you strip it all down just about every business is a people business.  And I can’t seem to get away from spirituality either.

I read everything I can get my hands on that even remotely applies to these areas.  My bookshelf is lined with the latest and classic works of, Business Management, Personal Finance, Sales Theory, Marketing, Behavioral Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, Spirituality, and Theology.

Where do I find the time?  It’s not that hard to read 50 pages in a day.  Unless the typeset is super small it takes me a about an hour.  Turn off the TV for an hour and you’re there – it’s that easy.

An hour a day is all it takes to read a book a week and be a life long learner.

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones was in the Life Insurance business, in the 1960s.  He was a top associate by the time he was 23 years old and in 1965 he founded Life Management Services and all but invented the Life Coaching industry.  Millions of people have read his books and attended his seminars on navigating life’s most challenging situations.  Most people know him for his famous inspirational quote:

You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.

Nothing has a bigger impact on your life than what you learn from books and people.  That’s why I really like that quote from Gandhi as well.  If I continue learning at the pace of a book a week, and I live forever, I will eventually know everything there is to know.

That’s my plan.

But the first half of the Gandhi quote is important as well.  It’s important to live for today, don’t put things off, enjoy each moment as it comes and be content in whatever your circumstance.  Tomorrow might not come so live for today but if you do wake up in the morning, keep learning and make every day better than the last.  You can’t go wrong.

Live today or die tomorrow – either way you win!

How do you live for today and learn for tomorrow?  Tell me in the comments below.

The Success Principle You Won’t Find on the Best Seller List…

As most of you know I read about a book a week.  I’m a firm believer in the famous line that says:

“Five years from today, you will be the same person that you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet.”

That was spoken by the motivational speaker and author Charlie “Tremendous” Jones and its truth is fairly profound.  As an introvert I find it a lot easier to read a book than to meet people so I guess by reading so much I’m making up for that fact, even when I read books about how to get better at talking to people.

I tend to read mostly in 5 broad categories that help me with the over arching mission of The Meekonomics Project, those are books on Theology, Economics, Politics, Sales Theory and Self-Help.  So this past week I picked up a copy of “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield.  Canfield is best known as the co-creator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series that has grown into over 40 individual releases and sold well in excess of 500 million copies world-wide.   By all accounts he’s a pretty successful guy so he should know what he’s talking about.

I’m only about a third of the way through but something I read the other day struck me and I wanted to write about now before I forgot and my mind moved on to something else.  In a nutshell I’m a bit concerned about the way Canfield, and other motivational self-help authors focus on personal empowerment over mutual submission, team work and servant leadership.

You see, the first several “principles” Canfield lays out have to do with taking personal responsibility and getting clear on what it is you want.  They have titles like “Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life”, “Be Clear Why You’re Here” and “Believe It’s Possible”.  All good things to be sure but Canfield (and he’s not alone in this, most self-help authors follow a similar formula) makes it seem as though you already have all of the ingredients you will need to be super successful.  In my experience that’s just not true.

Now I don’t want to pretend I know anything about Canfield’s personal life but it appears as though he is to some degree at least a spiritual person.  He has also spoken with and interviewed several religious leaders, many of whom have contributed to the “Chicken Soup” series and are quoted through this book.  But there seems to be a serious spiritual disconnect between saying I am 100% responsible for my own life and then turning around and praying the way Jesus taught us in Matthew 6.

The Lord’s Prayer contains the phrase, “your will be done”, (Matthew 6:10) but if you are totally in tune with the party line amongst self-help authors that’s a big no-no.  It means you are giving up a part of your personal empowerment to something outside of yourself.  Even though that is exactly what is taught in scripture most self-help authors, including those who profess some form or Christianity like Canfield will gloss over that fact.  Telling people to surrender their will to God just doesn’t sell as many books as letting them think they are in complete control of their destiny.

Self Help books are all about personal empowerment, they provide a valuable service to those who need a little kick in the pants to get moving toward their dreams in life.  But before you start moving in any direction you first need to stop and make sure your dreams are in line with the God who put you here.  God has a will, or as some have said a purpose, for you.  If you’re dreams are not in line with His no amount of self-help or empowerment lectures are going to make you successful.

As A.W. Tozer, the American theologian and author of “The Knowledge of the Holy” and “The Pursuit of God” put it:

To set our will against the will of God is to dethrone God and make ourselves supreme in the little kingdom of Mansoul.  This is sin at its evil root.

The kingdom of Mansoul, as opposed to the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God is where most people and most self-help authors want to live.  That is where you and you alone are in complete control.  But Jesus calls us to a different kind of kingdom.  He calls us to the Kingdom of Heaven, where God is in control and his will is written on our hearts for all time.

Meekonomics is not a self-help or personal empowerment movement.  If anything it is more about personal depowerment, if that’s even a word.  It’s not until you release your hold on your dreams and surrender them to God at the foot of the cross that you will be able to move forward.  But don’t mourn the loss of those dreams because once you surrender your will to him he will write a new dream on your heart that is even more powerful and more fulfilling than anything you could have thought of on your own.

Once that dream is firmly embedded in your soul then all of the self-help and personal empowerment writings from people like Jack Canfield take on a whole new meaning.  We are then able to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and run the race set out for us in a whole new way. (Hebrews 12:2).

Remember, “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” really means that if you surrender your will to God he will give you everything!  There is no better success principle than that.