The 10 Commandments of Success
The 10 Commandments of Success
From the book The Greatest Success In the World, written by the one and only Og Mandino
The First Commandment of Success
Thou must labor each day as if thy life hung in the balance.
You were not created for a life of idleness. You cannot eat from sunrise to sunset or drink or play or make love. Work is not your enemy but your friend. If all manners of labor were forbidden to thee you would fall to your knees and began early death. You need not love the tasks you do. Even kings dream of other occupations. Yet you must work and it is how you do, not what you do, that determines the course of your life. No man who is careless with his hammer will ever build a palace. You may work grudgingly or you may work gratefully; you may work as a human or you may work as an animal. Still, there is no work so rude that you may not exalt it; no work so demeaning that you cannot breathe a soul into it: no work so dull that you may not enliven it. Always perform all that is asked of you and more. Thy reward will come. Know that there is only one certain method of attaining success and that is through hard work. If you are unwilling to pay this price for distinction, be prepared for a lifetime of mediocrity and poverty. Pity those who abuse you and ask why you deliver so much in return for so little. Those who give less, receive less. Never be tempted to diminish you efforts, even if ye should labor for another. You are no less a success if someone else is paying you to work for yourself. Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later. Be grateful for your task and their demands. If it were not for your work, no matter how distasteful it may seem, you could neither eat so much, nor relish so pleasantly, nor sleep so soundly, nor be so healthful, nor enjoy the secure smiles of gratitude from those who love you for what you do.
The Second Commandment of Success
Thou must learn that with patience ye can control thy destiny.
Know that the more enduring thy patience, the more certain thy reward. There is no great accomplishment that is not the result of patient working and waiting. Life is not a race. No road will be too long for you if you advance deliberately and without haste. Avoid, like the plague, every carriage that halts to offer you a swift journey to wealth, fame, and power. Life has such hard conditions, even at its best, that the temptations when they appear, can destroy you. Walk. You are able. Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. With patience you can bear up under any adversity and survive any defeat. With patience you can control your destiny and have what you will. Patience is the key to contentment, for you and for those who must live with you. Realize that you cannot hurry success any more that the lilies of the field can bloom before their season. What pyramid was ever built but by a stone at a time? How poor are they who have not patience. What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
Every priceless attribute which wise men trumpet as necessary for the achievement of success is useless without patience. To be brave without patience can kill you. To be ambitious without patience can destroy the most promising of careers. To strive for wealth without patience will only separate you from your thin purse. And to persevere without patience is always impossible. Who can hold on, who can persevere without the waiting that attends it? Patience is power. Employ it to stiffen your spirit, sweeten your temper, stifle your anger, bury your envy, subdue your pride, bridle your tongue, restrain your hand, and deliver you whole, in due time, to the life you deserve.
The Third Commandment of Success
Thou must chart thy course with care or ye will drift forever.
Without hard work you have learned that you will never succeed. So also, without patience. Yet one may work diligently and be more patient than Jacob and still never rise above mediocrity unless plans are drawn and goals established. No ship ever lifted anchor and set sail without a destination. No army ever marched off to battle without a plan for victory. No olive tree ever displayed its flower without promise of the fruit to come. It is impossible to advance properly in life without goals. Life is a game with few players and many spectators. Those who watch are the hordes who wander through life with no dreams, no goals, no plans even for tomorrow. Do not pity them. They made their choice when they made no choice. To watch the races from the stands is safe. Who can stumble, who can fall, who can be jeered if they make no effort to participate? Art thou a player? As a player ye cannot lose. Those who win may carry off the fruits of victory and yet those who are defeated today, have learned valuable lessons that may turn the tide for them tomorrow. What do you want of your life? Consider long and well before you decide, for you may attain what you seek. Is it wealth, power, a loving home, peace of mind, land, respect, position? Whatever your goals maybe, fix them in your mind and never let loose. Understand that even these may not be sufficient, for life is unfair. Not all who work hard and patiently and have goals will achieve success. Without any of these three ingredients, however, failure is a certainty. Give yourself every chance to succeed. And if you fail, fail trying! Draw up your plans today. Ask yourself where you will be, a year from today, if you are still doing the things you are doing now. Then decide where you would prefer to be in terms of wealth or position or whatever your dreams may be. Next, plan what you must do, in the next twelve months, to reach your goal. And finally, do it!
The Fourth Commandment of Success
Thou must prepare for darkness while travelling in the sunlight.
Realize that no condition is permanent. There are seasons in your life just as in nature. No situation which confronts thee, good or bad, will last. Make no plans that extend beyond a year. In life, as in war, plans of long-range have no significance. All depends on the way unexpected movements of the enemy, that cannot be foreseen are meet, and how the whole matter is handled. Your enemy if you are not prepared, can be the cycles of life, mysterious rhythms of ups and downs like the great seas that rise and fall on the shores of the world. High tide and low, sunrise and sunset, wealth and poverty, joy and despair - each of these forces will prevail in their time. Pity the rich man riding the high tide of what seems an endless chain of great accomplishments. When calamity strikes he is ill-prepared and comes to utter ruin. Always be prepared for the worst. Pity the poor man, buried in the low tide of failure after failure, sadness after sadness. Eventually he ceases trying, just as the tide is changing and success is reaching out to embrace him. Never stop trying. Always have faith that conditions will change. Though your heart be heavy and your body bruised and your purse empty and there is no one to comfort you - hold on. Just as you know that the sun will rise, so also believe that your period of misfortune must end. It was always so. It will always be. And if your work and your patience and your plans have brought you good fortune, seek out those whose tide is low and lift them up. Prepare for your future. The day may come when what thou hast done for another will also be done for thee. Remember that nothing is constant, but treasure the love you received above all. It will survive long after your gold and good health have vanished. And plan to lose even that love, after a time, knowing that one day you will be reunited for all eternity in a place where there are no cycles, no ups and downs, no pain or sorrow and above all, no failures.
The Fifth Commandment of Success
Thou must smile in the face of adversity until it surrenders.
You are wiser than most, once you realize that adversity is never a permanent condition of man. And yet this wisdom alone is not sufficient. Adversity and failure can destroy you while you wait patiently for your fortune to change. Deal with them in only one way. Welcome them both, with open arms! Since this injunction goes against all logic or reason, it is the most difficult to understand or master. Let the tears you shed, over your misfortune cleanse thine eyes so that ye might see the truth. Realize that he who wrestles with you always strengthens your nerves and sharpens your skills. Your antagonist is always, in the end your best helper. Adversity is the rain of life, cold, comfortless, and unfriendly. Yet from that season are born the lily, the rose, the date, and the pomegranate. Who can tell what great things you will bring forth after you have been parched by the heat of tribulation and drenched by the rains of afflictions? Even the desert blooms after a storm. Adversity is also your greatest teacher. You will learn little from your victories but when you are pushed tormented, and defeated you will require great knowledge for only then will you become acquainted with your true self. Since you are free, at last, from those who flattered thee. And who are your friends? When adversity engulfs you is the best time to count them.
Remind thyself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment.
The Sixth Commandment of Success
Thou must realize that plans are only dreams without action
He whose ambition creeps instead of soars, who is always uncertain, who procrastinates instead of acts, struggles in vain against failure. Is he not imprudent who, seeing the tide making toward him, will sleep until the sea overwhelms him? Is he not foolish who, given the opportunity to improve his lot, will deliberate until his neighbor is chosen instead? Only action gives to life its strength, its joy, its purpose. The world will always determine your worth by the deeds you do. Who can measure your talents by the thoughts you have or the emotions you feel? And how will you proclaim your abilities if you are always a spectator and never a player? Take heart. Know that activity and sadness are eternal opposites. When thy muscles are straining and fingers are gripping and feet are moving and your mind is occupied with the task at hand you have little time for self-pity and remorse. Action is the balm that will heal any wound. Remember that patience is the art of waiting, with faith, for the life you deserve through your good works, but action is the power that makes good works possible. Even the length of thy wait, for the good things you have earned, seems less when you are busy. No one will act for you. Your plans will remain no more than an idler’s dream until you rise up and fight against the forces that would keep ye small. To take action is always dangerous, but to sit and wait for the good things of life to fall into your lap is the only calling where failures excel. Everything that lies between your cradle and your grave is always marked with uncertainty. Laugh at your doubts and move ahead. And if it is leisure you seek, instead of work, take heart. The more you do, the more you can do, and the busier you are, the more leisure you will have. Act or ye will be acted upon.
The Seventh Commandment of Success
Thou must sweep cobwebs from thy mind before they imprison thee.
The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, or a hell of heaven. Why do you still think of the love that your own foolishness and temerity caused you to lose, long ago? Will that memory help your digestion this morning? Why do you still grieve over your failures? Will tears improve thy skills while you labor for your family, today? Why do you still remember the face of he who harmed thee? Will the thought of sweet revenge enable you to sleep better tonight? Friends dead, jobs failed, words that wounded, grudges undeserved, money lost, sorrows unhealed, goals failed, ambitions destroyed, loyalties betrayed- why have ye preserved all this evil clutter as if it had value? Why have ye allowed such cobwebs of infamy to gather in the attic of your mind until there is scarcely room for a happy thought about this day? Sweep out the tragic strands to the past that have accumulated with the years. Their festering entrails will choke you, in time, if you are not diligent. The ability to forget is a virtue, not a vice. And yet, to know that yesterday with all it's mistakes and cares, it's pain and tears, has passed forever and cannot harm you, is not enough. So also must you believe that you can do nothing about tomorrow, with its possible heartaches and blunders, until the sun rises again. All you have, that you can fashion as you wish, is the hour at hand. Never let worry about tomorrow cast a shadow over today. What madness it is to be expecting evil before it comes. Waste not a moment's thought on that which may never happen. Concern thyself only with the present. He who worries about calamities suffers them twice over. Forget what is past and let God concern himself with the future. He is far more capable than you.
The Eighth Commandment of Success
Thou Must Lighten Thy Load If Ye Would Reach Thy Destination.
How different you are now from the infant that you were. You came into this world with nothing, but through the years you have allowed yourself to be weighed down by so much heavy baggage, in the name of security, that your journey through life has become a punishment instead of a pleasure. Lighten thy load, beginning today. Understand that the true worth of man is measured by the objects he refuses to pursue or acquire. The great blessings of life are already within you, or within your reach. Open thine eyes to the truth before you stumble past the very treasures you seek. Love, peace of mind, and happiness are jewels which no condition of fortune, no amount of land or coin, can either exalt or depress. What reward is there in gold and silks and palaces if their possession destroys the happiness you have so blindly taken for granted? The greatest falsehood in the world is that money and property can fill your life with joy. If wealth becomes part of your baggage you become poor, for then you will be no more than ass whose back bows under the weight of gold you must carry until death unloads thy cargo. Of all the needless materials that you embrace, of all the pleasures you enjoy, you will still carry no more out of this world than out of a dream. Admit riches grudgingly into thy home, but never into thy heart. And envy no man his grand possessions. His baggage would be too heavy for you, as it is for him. You could not sacrifice, as he does, health, peace, honor, love, quiet, and conscience, to obtain them. The price is so high that the bargain becomes, in the end, a great loss. Simplify your life. He is richest who is content with the least.
The Ninth Commandment of Success
Thou must never forget that it is always later than ye think
Remember that the black camel of death is always near. Abide always with thought that you will not live forever. Such is the irony of life that this knowledge, alone, will enable you to taste the sweetness of each new day instead of bemoaning the darkness of your nights.
All of us have been dying, hour by hour, since the moment we were born. Realizing this, let all things be placed in their proper perspective so that thine eyes will be opened until you see that those mountains which threaten you are only anthills and those beasts which seek to devour you are only gnats. Live with death as your companion but never fear it. Many are so afraid to die that they never live. Have compassion for them. How can they know that the happiness of death is concealed from us so that we might better endure life? Imagine that you are called away forever, tonight. Shed tears now, while you are able, for that day of play you promised your family last week, and the week before, a day of love and laughter you were always too busy pursuing gold to enjoy. And now they have your gold, it is true, but with all of it they cannot buy even a fleeting moment of your smile. Shed tears now, while your heart still beats, for the flowers you will never smell, the good deeds you will never do, the mother you will never visit, the music you will never hear, the pains you will never comfort, the tasks you will never complete, the dreams you will never realize. Remember that it is always later than you think. Fasten this warning deep in your mind, not for sorrow's sake but to remind yourself that today may be all you have. Learn to live with death but never flee from it. For if you die, you will be with God. And if you live, He will be with you.
The Tenth Commandment of Success
Thou must never strive to be anything but thyself.
To be what you are and to become what you are capable of becoming is the secret of a happy life. Every living soul has different talents, different desires, different faculties. Be yourself. Try to be anything else but your genuine self, even if you deceive the entire world, and you will be ten thousand times worse than nothing. Never waste any effort into elevating yourself into something you are not, to please another. Never put on false masks to gratify your vanity. Never strain to be valued for your accomplishments or you will cease to be valued for thyself. Consider the plants and the animals of the field, how they live. Does a cotton plant bear even one apple? Does a pomegranate tree ever produce an orange? Does a lion attempt to fly? Only man, of all living things, foolishly strives be other than what he was intended to be until life marks him a misfit. Misfits are the failures of the world, always chasing after a more fruitful career they will never find unless they look behind them. You cannot choose your calling. Your calling chooses you. You have been blessed with special skills that are yours alone. Use them, whatever they may be, and forget about wearing another's hat. A talented chariot driver can win gold and renown with his skills. Let him pick figs and he would starve. No one can take your place. Realize this and be yourself. You have no obligation to succeed. You have only the obligation to be true to yourself. Do the very best that you can, in the things you do the best, and you will know, in thy soul, that you are the greatest success in the world.