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Jack Canfield: The Success System That Never Fails

As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which grew into a billion dollar market with over 500 million books sold, Jack Canfield is America’s leading expert in creating peak performance for entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, sales professionals and educators. His compelling message, empowering energy and personable coaching style has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals achieve their dreams. In his keynote he shares his Success System That Never Fails.

A Promise

The main objective for this session is to learn how to go further and faster with more impact. To make more profit and have less struggle when you’re doing it. By the end of this keynote Jack wants you to be able to achieve anything you want quickly and easily using these principles of sets which he has tested with over a million people in 51 different countries for over 30 years. 

Jack begins by promising that because of that experience, he will be able to show you how you can double your income and your impact. How because of this you can then double your time off and as a result you can have more balance and more fun in your life and you can achieve greater levels of happiness and fulfillment. He promises that all of that is possible now especially if you use the principles he outlines.

Now think of this life as a combination lock if you know the right numbers in the right order you can have anything you want. However, you have to know the right numbers in the right order. Imagine it’s a system of doing the right thing in the right way in the right order at the right time. And when you do that, you can produce success in any area of your life whether it’s business making more money, improving your golf game or anything else.

Now, if you know the combination to the lock think about this, it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, young, old male or female, if you have a high IQ a low IQ. It doesn’t matter the lock has to open so it doesn’t matter where you start what you know. You can achieve any success you want. 

Success Principles

First Principle

Jack then went on to talk about the principles that are contained in his book. The 17 success principles are like a coaching program between the covers of a book.

The first principle is to take 100% responsibility for your life. It doesn’t say 99%. Jack asks you to act as if everything that’s ever happened to you either created it, promoted it or allowed it to happen. So for the next 30 days and he recommends living your life in a series of 30-day experiments. Try on some of these principles, meditate. Don’t watch the news, listen to positive things, read books, or exercise some of the principles. 

Jack goes on to mention the most important point for the listeners to take note of today is this. E+R=O. This means Event+Response=Outcome. Outcomes are simply how wealthy a person is, their success, how happy they are, how much money they have in the bank etc. 

What most people do in this situation is they blame the Event which could be the economy, the pandemic, all the different things that have come along. When in reality what we should be doing instead is changing our response, which is where our power is but there is no guarantee that you’re going to get a better outcome. You can study successful people like Tony Robbins. He said “success leaves clues in the form of manuals” There’s a ton of information in the form of books, master classes, youtube videos all that stuff is there but we have to be willing to learn it and apply it and see if it actually produces the outcomes that we want and that requires taking a risk which we have to do now.

For example 2+2=4 will not make a million dollar income. You will need to put more effort into your response in order to make your outcome bigger. However, the issue here is sometimes the world comes along and does a 1 like for example the pandemic but you’re still doing the same amount of response so therefore your outcome will be lower. So we have to massively change. This is the time of massive transformation in business, online, economically and so forth.

Every adversity carries with it the scene of an equal or greater benefit.

However, a person has to be willing to make that change. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich says that “every adversity carries with it the scene of an equal or greater benefit.” For example, like now everyone is in the middle of a pandemic. This is an adversity. It has caused a lot of challenges but within that adversity is a seed of an equal or greater benefit.

Jack goes on to talk about his own company and how they don’t talk about the new normal. They talk about the new better and what this is going to be and what changes need to be made. For example my company has had to go online for our training events instead of in person but the new better showed up as all of a sudden a person like Jack can get their normal keynote speaking fee and not have to travel a day to do the talk and take three days out of their life to do this talk they can instead do it from the comfort of their choosing.

With being online the reach is much broader. From being only 400 managers at an in person company event to being able to broadcast a talk to 4000 people in the company. Another benefit would be that people who like Jack mentions his own company kept putting off online programs. But now people can’t put them off anymore. This gave people the incentive to take that opportunity and run with it. Giving them more flexibility and the ability to reach a more global audience that you may not have done before. 

Therefore, every seed, every adversity has within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit, but you have to recognize the seed. You have to water it and you have to make sure it’s getting enough sunshine and weed out the weeds so you can actually create that new opportunity. 

Jack then goes back to reiterating his first principle that was about taking 100% responsibility which means giving up all blame and that includes the government, the pandemic, the economy, everything. Blaming is the response to an event and it doesn’t produce a better outcome in fact it just wastes valuable time. There is no point blaming things you can’t control. It won’t get you any further in life. 

Instead of complaining and blaming you need to start asking yourself. What is it that you can do that is going to produce the result that you want? For example, Maddie Christensen who is 11 years old has no arms past the elbows, no legs past the knees and yet he wanted to be a baseball player and he actually got there, he made his little league baseball team.  He did this by using the little cage at the end of the cross stick where the net is as his pitching hand and his catching glove and his team ended up placing second in the New York state finals when he was 11 years old. So as he was being interviewed, he said, you know, his situation is not an obstacle. It’s simply a problem to be solved, always focusing on what it is that we want to do and knowing it’s solvable. He said you have to give up all your excuses. This is an 11 year old and then he said you have to become solution-oriented and always ask what’s the solution? You can either make a million excuses or you can make a million dollars and that really is the truth. 

Now, here’s the deal. Most people never achieve extraordinary success in life as they are unwilling to be uncomfortable and you have to be willing to be uncomfortable as a leader. You have to make uncomfortable decisions, you have to take all risks, you have to fire people, you have to have uncomfortable conversations with people, you have to ask people to buy your products. If you’re uncomfortable selling that’s going to be a problem. You have to get online and learn new ways to do internet marketing and to do Zoom calls and to present yourself and so forth. There’s a lot of things that are going to be required for you to take it to the next step. Everything that you do that’s new by its very nature neurologically is going to be uncomfortable. That’s just the way the brain works and so we have to be willing to be uncomfortable.

Everything you do for the first time is going to be uncomfortable but as you repeat you get used to it and each time it becomes less uncomfortable. You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable in order to achieve what you want. You have to get out of your comfort zone. Everything you want is literally waiting for you just outside your comfort zone but it takes actions that are going to be uncomfortable. 

Key Principle Of Success

You have to focus on what you want as if you keep focusing on what you don’t want you’re going to get more of it. This is how the Law of Attraction works anything you resist against you will get more of it. So basically we have to focus on what we want. This is one of the key principles of success. People who are visionaries such as Walt Disney, Steven Jobs are always focusing on their next vision. 

People respond and get inspired by people with a vision. So if you are a leader you want to make sure that you’re sharing your vision consistently and sharing it in the way that other people can get behind and visualise it themselves. 

E+R=O only has three responses you have any control over and they are your thoughts, images (which is what you daydream and visualise as the purpose of planning and goal setting) and behavior (which includes what you say and what you do.)


Focus on thoughts for just a minute. Thoughts are important. You need to realise that every thought you think of is sending out a vibration. It’s a powerful signal with information and energy. Therefore, our thoughts can travel almost a quarter of a million miles and every thought you think is traveling through a phone call or whatever it is. There are people with good vibes and bad vibes. People with good vibes they’re happy. They’re optimistic. They’re excited about things, they are enthusiastic. We want to be around people with good vibes.

Success Principle – You must be clear about what you want

Before you do anything you have to decide where you want to be. What is your goal? This concept is often called visioning goal setting. You must be clear about what you want and consistently focus on what you want. You don’t need to worry about how this is going to happen at this stage. The most important thing is to focus on what we want and this is usually what prevents us from doing this as if we can’t see how we plan to get it we feel we can’t envision it happening. 

We usually ask ourselves how can we do that? Without the money, without the bandwidth we need in terms of the internet. We don’t have the tools and other resources. We don’t know that people will react well. We don’t have the market share, whatever it might be. That’s the type of thinking that gets in the way of allowing you to commit to what you want.

We all have an inner GPS just like the GPS in your smartphone and that GPS is called your subconscious mind. Just like the GPS in your car or your smartphone it can literally figure out the how for you. You don’t have to know how to get from New York to Pittsburgh. If you just put Pittsburgh in as the destination in your phone. It will tell you the instructions of how to get there and the reality is you just follow those instructions in your brain as well.

Jack then goes on to describe a time when he was talking to General Wesley Clark who used to be the Head of the Allied Nato Forces which is a very very powerful position. He said to Jack that “It doesn’t take any more effort to dream a big dream than it does to dream a small dream. You simply set the goal that you want. You just need to choose what it is. Not what you think is possible but what you truly want.”

You won’t make a commitment to the how until you realise the what so that is the most important step to decide on first. You must first create the problem or challenge in your mind in the form of a goal.

For example: Richard Branson is a big thinker, and he always says “If your dreams don’t scare you they’re too small.” Mr. Canfield then moves on to motivate the audience to think big today and we’re going to set something we call a breakthrough goal. 

You’re going to use the power of goal setting which we all have to do to set goals. We have to have something we’re working toward that’s measurable in time and space and then you must set a breakthrough goal and a breakthrough goal is a goal that would quantum leap you either in your career, your profession, your job or the other area of your life that you might choose. It could be to do with your health, sports,relationships it is completely up to you.

For example Jack explains his breakthrough goal was to publish a book. A book establishes you as an expert and when he wrote Chicken Soup for the Soul he opened up the world to himself and sold over half a billion books. You do the math. It’s made a huge impact on my income and my life.

It is important for you to realise that a goal is something measurable in time and space. It must be measurable by a certain date. For example: If a person wants to increase their income. Everybody could give you two dollars? You’ve just increased your income but I don’t think that’s what you want. You want this goal to actually make an impact. Therefore, if you set a goal such as you will earn an annual income of 3,000 dollars by 5 p.m. December 31st 2021. Now that’s a measurable goal.

Activity – First Step

For this take about 30 seconds here and write down what your breakthrough goal for you would be. If you were to set it you can always edit it and change it but for now the big commitment. Now what you’ve just done is something that very few people actually do in a year or maybe in a lifetime, which is make a commitment to achieving something. That could be the major breakthrough for you. 

So whatever it is for you, you’ve just done something magnificent. Dr. David Cole who’s a professor at Virginia Tech University did some studies around this topic. Through his research he found out that people who write down their goals earn nine times as much over their lifetimes.

There are other studies that show very similar things that there’s a top 3% in the world and this top 3% owns 97% of the resources in America. They’re all goal setters. If you write your goals down and you review them regularly such as the goal you just wrote down, once a week what happens is you are going to earn nine times as much over your lifetime compared to people who don’t do that.

Second Step

Now the next step you have to do and it’s just a choice is to believe it’s possible, to believe it’s actually possible to achieve this. If you have faith that this will occur it’s going to work for you. We don’t do things we don’t believe could work. So for the next 30 days act as if it’s possible to achieve this goal. 

Napoleon Hill wrote Think And Grow Rich, in this book he states “whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve.” So you just conceived it by doing that exercise. 

Next we now have to choose to believe it. Believe it’s possible and we do that through repetition, through focusing on it and believing it’s possible. Get a picture of where you want to be for example ‘a picture of yourself sitting in the Ferrari you always wanted’ and focus on that and achieve it. 

Muhammad Ali once said “impossible is a big word thrown around by small people who find it easier to live in a world they’ve been given rather than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion.”

People ask why it is valuable to watch inspirational biographies, to read inspirational books and memoirs and so forth? It is because we find out if they can do it why can’t I do it? One of the great reasons Chicken Soup For The Soul was so successful was the people would read the stories and say ‘my god if that person with what they were facing could achieve that then maybe I can too” and they then start acting as if they can.

Success Principle – Take 100% responsibility 

The other success principle is that you must take 100% responsibility and be clear about what your vision is for your life and you then set goals. 

You have only set one today that would actually bring about that vision of this ideal life you want to live. 

You then must create an affirmation, a visualisation of the picture in your mind that basically shows you living that life so that you can imprint that on your subconscious mind so that it becomes empowered and imbued with all this energy of possibility. It is because of this that your brain will then start coming up with creative solutions that will help you achieve the goal.

It will open up the doors of perception so you can actually see resources that were always there that you never saw before. So an affirmation is a statement that affirms you already having achieved your goal. 


The key to an affirmation are the words I and now. Every affirmation must have a feeling word in it, how you would feel after achieving this goal. I feel ‘blank’ when ‘blank’ and the words must correspond as if you are already living the results

For example: “I’m so happy and grateful that I am now earning a personal income of a 100,000 or 300,000 dollars a year.” So you must be specific  to your goal. Jack himself used this method to get to where he is now. Therefore, the reality is your affirmations and your visualization will work if you work at them.

Jack then moves on to ask you to write down your own affirmation for your breakthrough goal. He states what you need to do to achieve it and that includes daily discipline and he encourages you to do this twice a day. If you can in the morning when you first wake up, read your affirmation, close your eyes, visualise it as something that’s already achieved, see it as a little movie in your mind. 

You must also feel the feelings and this is critical. The feelings are the fuel that emotionalise this. People go through with things for how they think they feel as a result of achieving them. Relief, power Happiness, joy, pride. All these feelings are relevant and important. 

The reason this works is that it makes it more real. The brain says no when there are no emotions attached as it doesn’t believe it but when you attach feelings eventually the brain has to kind of surrender and go.

When you repeat this twice a day eventually the brain starts to come up with solutions. The other thing it does is it shifts your perception.When listening you want a program that lets in anything that will help you be successful. Therefore, you’ll start perceiving ideas in the outside world, opportunities, people, books, etc. You should read everything like that. Become aware of the information you are letting in. Filter to let in everything that will help you achieve your goal. 

You can only do this by first believing it’s possible, visualising, by doing the affirmation and by doing all of those that’s when it will release the creativity. You’re going to feel increased motivation to get out of bed. 

To bring this even further Jack wants you to write out a description of your extraordinary life every year including your health and fitness, love, business, money, travel and fun, all aspects of your life. 

Now you’ve got this script for this extraordinary life and what you must do everyday is affirm  that you’re living that with affirmations. Close your eyes and visualise living that life. Then what happens slowly over time you become that part. How would you dress? How would you act? What would your confidence level be? Would you make more requests? Would you say no distractions? Would you only hang out with people who you thought were uplifting, encouraging and supportive of this new lifestyle? Would you put in the time in an effort to learn what you needed to learn?

Before this actually happens you have to rehearse this new way of being, this new way of thinking, this new way of acting, speaking, etc. And that’s what the affirmations and visualisation do and that’s why people who do that become successful people. 

Children who have players that they want to grow up and be like and they wear the jerseys of the soccer players, the team they like or Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant’s jersey. Whatever it is, they start becoming that person at a very young age. That is why it is so important to be doing that now because that is what works, that is a psychology of success that you have to get into. 

The Hour Of Power

Jack teaches this program called the Hour Of Power. Every morning Jack wakes up and spends 60 minutes doing three things and he believes they’ve helped contribute to a lot of his success. So what is this Hour of Power exactly? It’s a full hour that is broken up into three 20-minute sessions:

  • 20 minutes of exercise
  • 20 minutes of meditation
  • 20 minutes of reading (positive, uplifting material)

The benefits of doing just these 3 things are great. The Benefits of the Hour of Power:

  1. Exercise

Simply by meditating you’ll make better decisions, have better mental health, energy, and focus. Reading something positive every day ensures that you are always learning and growing, along with increasing your focus. Exercise, even if you are taking a walk or stretching for 20 minutes will make a huge difference in your overall health and longevity.

You can switch the order of the 3 activities and you can also choose what hour of the day you’d like to reserve for your personal Hour of Power. Whatever type of exercise you choose to do is fine; what’s most important is that you commit to doing it!

  1. Meditation

The same goes for the meditation portion of the hour.  There are so many amazing meditation resources out there for everyone. Jack created a free e-book on a 4-step meditation technique that is perfect for beginners. The most important thing is to find one that you feel connected to and spend 20 minutes really grounding yourself.

And remember, you don’t need to be in a remote cave in India to meditate, although that would be pretty cool!  You can meditate almost anywhere….in your home, at a park, at the beach or a lake.

Again, go with your internal guidance and find a place that you feel calm and present in, and use those 20 minutes to feed your mind, body, and soul.

  1. Reading

And last but not least, the third portion of your Hour of Power is 20 minutes of reading.  Get your hands on positive, uplifting material – it could be from an online magazine, a book, journals or articles.

But again, find something that excites you and that you’ll look forward to reading.  By reading positive material, your subconscious will become emerged in the affirmative, which helps you to remain in that positive state throughout the day.

Success Principle – You have to take action

The next success principle is you have got to take action. There’s an enduring axiom of success that says,“The Universe rewards action, not thought.” Yet as simple as this principle seems, it’s surprising how many people get bogged down in the analyzing, planning and organising stages when what they really need to do is to simply take action.

How to start taking action:

The simple fact remains that, in life, we are not rewarded for what we know, but for what we do. Of course, many people don’t take action because they’re fearful of the consequences. Perhaps they feel they don’t have permission or perhaps they’re more afraid of failure than they are of success.

Successful people realise that failure is an important part of the learning process. They know that failure is just a way we learn by trial and error. Not only do we need to stop being so afraid of failure, we need to be willing to fail.  I call this kind of instructive failure “failing forward.” Simply get started, make mistakes, listen to the feedback, correct and keep moving forward toward the goal.

Of course, one major benefit of taking action is that it’s a key factor in putting The Law of Attraction to work in your life.

Step 1: You have to ask for what you want.

Step 2: You have to believe it will come about

Step 3: You have to create a vibrational or emotional match in order to receive the results when they come your way.

When you’re in action—doing research, connecting with people, finding ways to accomplish a goal—you are sending a powerful signal to the Universe that you expect and anticipate meeting that goal or enjoying that experience soon.

After all, you wouldn’t be doing all that work if you didn’t expect to be living that new life sometime soon, would you?

A powerful strategy to get you in action and keep you in action is something Jack calls The Rule of 5.

Every day, do five things that will move you closer to your goal – 5 concrete action steps. If you’re self-employed, do five things to grow your business. If you want a promotion at your job, do five things a day to improve your skills and knowledge so you’ll be eligible to be promoted. Even if you accomplish just 5 things each week, that’s more than most people do in a month to achieve their dreams.

Back when Jack was building his speaking career, he would send 5 letters a day to school districts and program directors for educator conferences for teachers, counselors and school administrators. And later, when Chicken Soup for the Soul was published, he would send out 5 books a day to companies who could hire him to speak at their next industry event or sales meeting.

Practice your “5 Things a Day” habit and after three weeks – not only will you have taken major action toward your life goals, you will have developed a new habit of being proactive in creating your future.

Success Principle – Learn more to earn more

Go into the home of almost any wealthy, highly successful person and you will find a library of books—sometimes an actual room such as a den or a library, other times just lots of bookshelves or stacks on the floor of books that they have read. In Jack’s case he has read more than 3,000 books in a wide variety of fields that relate to his work as a trainer, speaker, author, entrepreneur and leader.

Reading and applying what he read has been a critical part of my success. He considers it one of his most important daily disciplines. He read for at least an hour a day sometimes much more. Which is why one of his Success principles is learn more to earn more. So make sure you read, go on YouTube, listen to TedTalks, masterclasses and so forth and keep learning.  

The Most Valuable Question You May Ever Learn

In the 1980s, a multimillionaire businessman taught Jack a question that radically changed the quality of his life. So what is this magical question that can improve the quality of every relationship you are in, every product you produce, every service you deliver, every meeting you conduct, every class you teach and every transaction you enter?

Here it is: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of our relationship during the last week?” There are a countless of variations on this question that have served Jack well over the years, and any answer less than a 10 always gets this follow-up question:

“What would make it a 10?” This is where the really valuable information comes from. Knowing that a person is dissatisfied is not enough. Knowing in detail what will satisfy them gives you the information you need to do whatever it takes to create a winning product, service or relationship.

Success Principle – Practice Persistence

The power of persistence is so important for achieving success in all aspects of our lives, so Jack wants to make sure I share it with you.

One of Jack’s favorite quotes comes from Calvin Coolidge, who once said:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

This quote is so powerful because it’s true. It doesn’t matter how much money you were born into, or how smart or talented you are. It doesn’t even matter how ambitious you are. If you don’t have the necessary willpower and drive to keep moving forward to your goals no matter what roadblocks appear on your path, you will never unlock your true capacity for success. It is your ability to persevere in the face of any obstacle that is the key to your success in life. The more you practice the art of persistence, the more capable you will become of achieving any goal you set for yourself.

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