Home Personal Development Inspirational Icons: Jack Canfield

Inspirational Icons: Jack Canfield

By looking at the lengthy list of accomplishments Jack Canfield has accumulated throughout his career, it is easy to see why he has been dubbed as ‘America’s #1 Success Coach.’ For over 30 years, Canfield has been motivating and inspiring others while working as a psychotherapist, teacher, author, and speaker. Canfield, like many of the world’s most influential self-help leaders, faced difficult circumstances in his youth, yet was able to use his challenges as fuel for his future success. He is most recognized for his entrepreneurial ventures such as the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and The Canfield Training Group. His book The Success Principles is also recognized as one of the most important self-help books to ever be published. 

Jack Canfield Profile:

Jack Canfield's headshot is shownBorn: August 19th, 1944 (age 72)

Occupation: Author, Motivational Speaker, & Entrepreneur

Focuses On: Success, Motivation, & Inspiration

Jack Canfield Overview:

Like many of the world’s most celebrated self-help leaders, Jack Canfield was greatly influenced by the trying circumstances that he faced throughout his childhood. Canfield, who was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on August 19th, 1944, grew up under the guidance of alcoholic parents who would eventually get divorced. While many would become victims of circumstances such as these, Canfield was able to stay focused on his future and use his unfortunate upbringing as motivation for his future successes. It was from this period of his life that Canfield’s teaching mantra, ‘Never Give Up,’ evolved.

After graduating high school from the Linsly Military Institute in Wheeling, West Virginia, Canfield received a bachelor’s degree in Chinese History from Harvard University and a Masters’s degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Upon graduating from UMass, Canfield was further shaped by his brief time working for W. Clement Stone, a self-made millionaire who founded Success Magazine. Yet still, Canfield’s story of global inspiration didn’t begin to unfold until he started working as a high school history teacher, just as he had originally planned.

It was during his time teaching that Canfield began collecting inspirational materials, writing about self-esteem, and distributing his work to students in hopes of enhancing their educational experience. While teaching, Canfield also wrote his first book, One Hundred Ways to Enhance Self-Concept in the Classroom,  and it would serve as the jumping-off point for his more notable writing and speaking career. After he published two additional books and began giving motivational speeches at schools and corporations, Canfield was approached by an audience member, at one of his lectures, who asked him if he had thought about putting the inspirational stories he collected into a motivational book. This one question largely led to the creation of the historic Chicken Soup for the Soul book series that Canfield is well-known for.

After deciding to act upon the idea, Canfield began collecting and organizing additional stories for over three years. When he and co-author Mark Victor Hanson had their first book complete, they began approaching publishers in hopes of landing a deal. Even though the original Chicken Soup for the Soul book was rejected by over forty publishers, the duo stayed true to their mission and eventually were rewarded for their efforts. Chicken Soup for the Soul, which was published in 1993, stayed on the New York Times Bestseller List for over two years and led to over 250 Chicken Soup spinoffs that have also enjoyed immense success.

The cover of Jack Canfield's The Success Principles is shown.Since Chicken Soup for the Soul garnered national media attention in the mid-90s, Canfield has evolved into one of the most recognizable self-help leaders of his generation. In 2004, Canfield established the Transformational Leadership Council, a highly selective organization focused on advancing the field of personal development. In 2005, Canfield released The Success Principles, which has become one of the most celebrated self-help books to ever be published. Furthermore, Canfield is the founder and CEO of The Canfield Training Group, an organization that focuses on training entrepreneurs, educators, and corporate leaders.

By looking at Jack Canfield’s lengthy list of accomplishments, it is easy to see why he has been called ‘America’s #1 Success Coach.’ In addition to publishing numerous books, Canfield has been featured on over 1,000 radio and T.V. programs. He holds the Guinness World Record for having seven books on the New York Times Bestseller List at the same time and has twice been named Business Digest’s Motivator of the Year. In addition to the Chicken Soup for The Soul book series and The Success Principles, Canfield’s other notable titles include The Power of Focus, The Aladdin Factor, and Dare to Win.

3 Messages to Take from His Teachings:

  • Take 100% Responsibility for Your LifeJack Canfield’s 2005 self-help classic The Success Principles is largely based upon the singular premise that if an individual wants to be successful in life, they will have to take 100% responsibility for their current situation and circumstances. In the unfortunately reality that we live in, all too many people want to blame anyone but themselves for the negative aspects of their lives. You certainly have heard people claim that their parents, bosses, friends, the government, and countless other external factors are to blame for their unsatisfactory feelings toward their current life circumstances. The truth, however, is that every individual’s success, relationships, financial well-being, physical fitness, and levels of life satisfaction are based solely upon their own actions. Until an unfulfilled individual is willing to take 100% responsibility for every facet of their life, they will continue to live in the realm of mediocrity. This means that if you want to change the world and achieve great things, you will have to quit pointing the finger and blaming others for your situation.
  • Clarity and Focus are Key to AchievementJack Canfield is a big believer in the idea that each individual has a distinctive purpose in life that, in order to find true fulfillment, they need to identify, acknowledge, and honor. He tells us that only by first clarifying what it is that we should be doing, and determining what we want our lives to look like, can we move in the direction of success and happiness. To do this, Canfield proposes that we create a personal vision statement and clearly define our goals in seven distinctive life areas: Financial, Career/Business, Free Time/Family Time, Health/Appearance, Relationships, Personal Growth, and Making a Difference. Once we have a vision statement and a list of worthwhile goals, he tells us that our next step would be to chunk each one down into more obtainable stepping-stone objectives and methodically work our way toward the completion of each one. Furthermore, Canfield tells us that it is vital for us to stay focused on the things that we want, rather than the things that we don’t want and that we can do this by regularly reviewing our goals and asking ourselves daily questions like, “What is one thing I could do today to move toward the achievement of this goal?” Here is a short video (1:10) of Canfield talking about focus:

  • Commit to Constant and Never-Ending ImprovementOne of Jack Canfield’s most important teachings revolves around the idea of making a commitment to constant and never-ending improvement. He tells us that the most successful individuals in the world are constantly trying to reinvent themselves and continue working towards personal growth. Based upon the various life areas that we discussed previously, there are a seemingly endless amount of ways that each one of us can improve ourselves, our relationships, and our lives. Canfield tells us that instead of achieving a number of important goals and becoming complacent, you should aim to find contentment and happiness in the process of relentlessly working towards improving yourself as a person.

Inspirational Quotes:

  • “If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily.”
  • “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
  • “Living each day as if it were your last doesn’t mean your last day of retirement on a remote island. it means to live fully, authentically, and spontaneously with nothing being held back.”

1 comment

Conscious Questions: How Can I Step Outside of My Comfort Zone? | Balanced Achievement January 31, 2017 - 11:03 am

[…] helped to advance the field and personal growth strategies found within it. Today, the likes of Jack Canfield, Steven Covey, and Tony Robbins continue to conceptualize new tools and methods that help […]


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