By Curt Fowler
“Keep your thoughts positive. They become your words. Keep your words positive. They become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive. Your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive. They become your values. Keep your values positive. Your values determine your destiny.” - Gandhi
“The Greatest Salesman in the World” is a book written by Og Mandino that was first published in 1968, It tells the story of a poor camel boy that achieves a life of abundance.
Although I heard great things about the book, I had never read it. Until I started my own business I was never in sales, so I didn’t think the book would have much to offer. I was wrong.
The book is not for salespeople. It is for people who want to succeed in life. Each lesson taught in the book has positively impacted my life and I get re-energized every time I listen to it again or review the lessons it teaches.
The book is a parable about a poor camel boy named Hafid. Hafid lived in Jerusalem during Biblical times. The poor young man seeks advice from a wealthy and successful trader who is nearing the end of his life.
The man decides to entrust the secrets of his success to the young man. Ten scrolls contain the secrets.
We’ll hit the highlights of each scroll so you can grasp the lessons, but I recommend you read the book or listen to the audible version. It is a great, quick read.
Scroll I – I Will Form Good Habits and Become Their Slave
In the first scroll, the author teaches that there are no secrets to success. The value of one man’s secrets to success fades with time. Only principles endure.
As children, we were slaves to our impulses. As adults, we are slaves to our habits. All results that we have today are the result of our habits, not luck or circumstance. Only habits make or break the man.
If we are to be slaves to our habits, they must be good habits. Bad habits must be destroyed unless we are ready to eat the sour fruit of those habits.
Every habit, good or bad, performed over time yields fruit. Only we can decide if the habits we keep will produce the fruit we want.
The first scroll sets out the author’s plan to implement good habits and drive out bad ones.
The reader (in this case, Hafid) is instructed to meditate on each scroll for 30 days. Hafid is instructed to read the scroll upon waking, when he takes his midday meal and before he goes to bed.
He is to do this for 30 days before moving to the next scroll. The key is that bad habits cannot be eliminated.
Just like our thoughts, they must be replaced with a better habit.
Attempting too much change always leads to failure. Behavior change requires focus and Mandino has attempted to give us that focus by allowing 30 days for each principle to become a habit.
Scroll I contains the secret to successfully implementing the principles found in all the other scrolls.
Scroll II – I Will Greet This Day with Love in My Heart
In scroll II, Mandino teaches that love is the greatest weapon, shield and inspiration.
I’ve read that Mandino was a born again Christian and that all the scrolls are based on Biblical principles. The connection to Scripture is easy to see in scroll II.
Mandino takes us through all the scenarios we could encounter and tells us how to rely on love in each.
He teaches us to love the sun and love the rain. To love the darkness for it shows us the stars, to love sadness for it opens our souls.
How will I speak? I will laud my enemies and encourage my friends. I will dig for reasons to applaud. When I am tempted to criticize, I will bite my tongue; when I am moved to praise I will shout from the roofs. What a great principle to live by!
One of the suggestions that might seem a little weird is to greet each person you meet by silently saying I love you.
Mandino promises that the action will bring a shine to your eyes, unwrinkled your brow and bring a smile to your lips.
There are a lot of other great principles in scroll II. Check them out!
Scroll III – I Will Persist Until I Succeed
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
The lessons of the third scroll have become more commonplace today with books like “Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth becoming a best seller. The following quote from the book summarizes the principle perfectly.
“In the Orient, young bulls are tested for the fight arena in a certain manner. Each is brought into the ring and allowed to attack a picador who pricks them with a lance. The bravery of each bull is then rated with care according to the number of times he demonstrates his willingness to charge in spite of the sting of the blade. Henceforth, I will recognize that each day I am tested by life in a like manner. If I persist, if I continue to try, if I continue to charge forward, I will succeed.”
I can’t add anything to Mandino’s writing; I believe it sums up persistence flawlessly.
I hope you find time to meditate on these three principles. Writing them has inspired and encouraged me.
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Curt Fowler is President of Fowler & Company and Director at Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey. He is dedicated to helping leaders build great organizations and better lives for themselves and the people they lead.
Curt is a syndicated business writer, keynote speaker and business advisor. He has an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School, is a CPA, and a pretty good guy as defined by his wife and four children.