- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2005

Jack Canfield once ate 21-cent dinners — 10 pennies for a can of tomato paste, garlic salt and water poured over an 11-cent bag of spaghetti noodles. Now the co-creator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series lives in a California estate, earning millions of dollars each year.Mr. Canfield has published more than 60 best-selling books with more than 80 million copies printed worldwide. As a public speaker, he has addressed gatherings of salesmen and congressmen, at the finest hotels from Nevis to Cancun.

If success can be found somewhere between resorts and the wallet, Mr. Canfield has it all. In his new book, “The Success Principles,” Mr. Canfield shares techniques he said he used to go from working at his dad’s florist’s shop in West Virginia to appearing on every major talk show in the United States, including “Oprah” and “Good Morning America.”

But unlike most self-help flings, this 473-page tome does not contain three simple steps to lose weight, score straight A’s or buy that bungalow on the beach.

“Most of those books have ‘the seven habits of,’ ‘the five secrets,’ ‘the 10 steps to,’ ” Mr. Canfield said. “They’re all valuable, but life is a combination lock. If you’re missing one number, it won’t open. Life is a little more complicated than habits, secrets and steps.”

Mr. Canfield shares 64 principles for becoming successful — whatever the goal. He provides fresh stories in almost every chapter to prove his principles, such as No. 18, “Reject Rejection.”

c Angie Everhart, who began modeling at 16, was once told by agency owner Eileen Ford that she would never make it in the fashion world because “redheads don’t sell.” Miss Everhart became the first redhead in history to appear on the cover of Glamour magazine, and has appeared in 27 films.

c British mystery writer John Creasey received 743 rejection slips before he sold his first book. He then published 562 full-length stories over the next 40 years.

c Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page approached Yahoo in 1998 and suggested a merger. Yahoo could have bought Google for a handful of stock, but the company suggested that the young Googlers keep working on their little school project and come back when they had grown up. Within five years, Google had a market of about $20 billion.

In addition to offering such examples, Mr. Canfield gives unique advice, such as Principle No. 26, “Acknowledge Your Positive Past.” The reader is advised to praise himself while looking in a mirror every night before bed.

“Maintain eye contact with yourself throughout the exercise,” Mr. Canfield writes. “When you’re finished appreciating yourself, complete the exercise by continuing to look deep into your own eyes and saying, ‘I love you.’ Then stand there for another few seconds to really feel the impact of the experience — as if you were the one in the mirror who had just listened to all of this appreciation.”

The trick, Mr. Canfield said, is not turning away from the mirror feelingcompletely stupid. He said some peoplehave even reported breaking out in hives or feeling a little lightheaded.

“These are naturaland normalreactions,” Mr. Canfield said. “We are not trained to acknowledge ourselves. In fact, we are mostly trained to do the opposite: Don’t toot your own horn. Don’t get a swelled head. … Pride is a sin.”

Successful though he may be, Mr. Canfield’s advice has not escaped criticism.

Take the mirror exercise. Larry Barber of the Charis Foundation and a marriage and family therapist from Eugene, Ore., said people intuitively know the exercise is ridiculous.

“It is silly because it’s empty,” Mr. Barber said. “It doesn’t talk about character — what kind of person you are. … It’s [one] thing to do your job, to sort of pat yourself on the back because you did what you’re supposed to do or paid to do. But to be a kind person when it’s difficult — that’s a whole other thing.”

Others say Mr. Canfield misinterprets the Bible with Principle No. 61, “Give More to Get More,” in which the author advises that tithing — giving 10 percent of one’s earnings to the church or other religious work — guarantees prosperity because it creates a spiritual alliance with God.

Mr. Canfield cites Malachi 3:10: “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse that there may be food in my house, and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”

But Jack Crabtree, director of the McKenzie Study Center, a Christian worldview institute in Eugene, said that passage was written to the Jews — not modern Americans.

“We Gentiles don’t have those promises,” Mr. Crabtree said. “The Mosaic Covenant was a particular, specific covenant that God made with a particular people, the Jews, about a certain piece of land and a way of life.”

Mr. Canfield said God wants people to be wealthy. “The Bible doesn’t talk about being poor,” he said. “Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass — that’s like saying Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a Mercedes.”

Mr. Crabtree disagreed.

“He obviously hasn’t read the Bible recently,” Mr. Crabtree said. “The ass was a sign of royalty, but the reason Jesus was doing that was not to show off his ‘success.’ He was going to his Crucifixion, after all. … To say that the Bible does not talk about being poor is sort of illiterate.”

He pointed to passages like James 5:1-3: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted, and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire.”

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