A Little-Known, Yet Powerful 11-Step Action Plan for Leading a Successful, Happy Life

What I'm about to share with you today has the potential to change your life forever for the better.

A bold statement, I know.

But I wouldn't make that claim if I wasn't sure I could deliver the goods.

Because every so often you come across something in life where you say to yourself …

"Wow this is good stuff, I wish I'd read this years ago."

In my opinion, what I'm about to share with you today should be displayed behind every computer screen and tacked up on every bulletin board, blackboard and fridge in the world.

Because the ideas it communicates cut to the very core of what all success in life springs from.

I stumbled upon them a few years ago. They were included in a Brian Tracy program I was studying, and I've kept them close by ever since.

(Surprisingly, they are no where to be found on the Internet. Tracy indicates they were taken from something called "Wisdom of the Ages" which I can't find anywhere either.)

They were written by Max Lincoln Schuster.

Never heard of him?

In 1924, he co-founded the Simon and Schuster publishing house – today one of the top four English publishers in the world.

Schuster was an accomplished thinker and a relentless collector of ideas. One of his most inventive ideas was “The Bible Designed to Be Read as Living Literature.” It made the Bible easier to read and understand.

In 1939, he helped create “Pocket Books” which was responsible for bringing the paperback into general circulation. In 1940, he edited the popular “Treasury of the World's Great Letters.”

Along the way, he took the time to list the guidelines he used in his life that made him successful. He titled his mini-essay “Success Is Yours”. Here are his 11 success tips:

  1. Become the world's supreme expert in something – Schuster advises to "begin at once, at this precise moment to choose some subject, some concept, some great name or idea or event in history on which you can eventually make yourself the world's supreme expert."

    He urges us to start a crash program immediately using the three R's of modern education, reading, research and reflection – with the goal of establishing yourself as "one who has the most knowledge, the deepest insight and the most audacious willingness to break new ground by defining your terms and actually examining all the alternatives and consequences."

  2. Master the art and technique not merely of rapid reading, but creative reading and creative research – Schuster says it's important to "learn how to use a library and how to build a home library of your own."

    He reflects how "back in 1913, high school graduates were singing the old refrain: "No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's saucy looks." He points out that they were throwing away their books and saving their diplomas.

    He urges us to do the opposite, "Forget your diploma, or throw it away, but save your books and use them day and night."

  3. Learn the supreme art of getting sixty seconds out of a minute, sixty minutes out of an hour, twenty four hours out of a day – He reminds us that we have as much time as everyone else our age.

    He says to "Save it, hoard it, plug up all the leaks. If necessary, stand on the street corner, cap in hand like a mendicant, and beg all the passers-by for the seconds and minutes and hours and days they waste."

  4. Master the art of preparation – Do your homework (especially after your formal education). Remember the words of French chemist Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) who said “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

  5. Begin now to learn the art and science of preventative medicine – In other words, take care of yourself. Exercise and eat healthily. He says we should prepare now to out-perform and outlive our doctors. He says Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: "Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous."

  6. Work hard, think big, and always have a dream beginning with a detailed blueprint and plan for your agenda, your priorities, your first things first – Schuster encourages us to put a firm foundation under our "castles in Spain, in the form of these step-by-step, play-by-play specifics and make your dream come true."

  7. Remember the following three questions: "If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am not for others, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?"These three questions were first asked by renowned Jewish religious leader Hillel the Elder.

  8. Work hard and opportunities will come – Schuster advises us to remember the words of noted American journalist H.L. Mencken (1880 – 1956) who said, “Most people don’t recognize opportunity when it comes along, because usually it is disguised as hard work.”

  9. Don’t try to please everyone – Schuster counsels us to always keep in mind the maxim of U.S. editor and journalist (and the first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for reporting), Herbert Bayard Swope (1882-1958) who said, “I can’t give you any formula for success, but I can give you a sure formula for failure – try to please everybody.”

  10. Always remember, the time to be happy is now – The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.

  11. Remember what people really want – Schuster’s last point is extremely applicable to writers who promote products and services. He says to "never forget that people never buy things or services … they buy solutions, for their problems. Your job is to help them find solutions."

Not bad advice huh?

But don't just read them and forget them.

Keep them near and use them to guide your actions and I'm confident you'll be more successful in every area of your life.

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Published: December 7, 2010

39 Responses to “A Little-Known, Yet Powerful 11-Step Action Plan for Leading a Successful, Happy Life”

  1. I wish they'd teach this in school. It seems that many times my kids come home with busy work disguised as homework. Everyone once and a while a gem of knowledge does fall through the educational net, and then it is cherished.

    Thanks for this great post to start off my thinking for goals for the new year.

    Guest (Julie)

  2. Wow, this is awesome! Thanks so much for posting it!

    Guest (Carlin)

  3. Great article! Thanks for posting. :)


  4. Excellent advice. Amazing how good advice is timeless. I will print it out.


  5. Already do several. But specifically want to remember number 11 in my current and future copywriting. (i.e. over-and-above benefits)

    Dale Sims--freelance copywriter--web content cons

  6. Not bad advice at all. I have definitely printed this out and Step No 1 has been put into motion.


  7. Great advice! I have posted it on my desktop and will review each suggestion for one month. Thanks for the encouragement.

    James Head

  8. Advice that's easily understood and applied. I especially like using the odd number 11. Using odd steps instead of even attracts my attention and triggers movement to the points made. Good choice by John Wood.

    Bert Barer

  9. Each of the 11 steps is valuable and should be applied whenever possible. I appreciate your using the odd number 11. It jogs my memory because it's odd and unusual.

    I especially like number 7, where you quote three profound questions posed by Hillel the Elder. They prompt the reader to respond on a meaningful level. Nothing passive here.

    Good writing.

    Bert Barer

  10. Excellent advise. This could be used in ANY profession. We are adopting it into our business.

    Guest (Roy Curtis)

  11. I like this list so much, I printed a copy to keep next to my computer for the new year. I especially like the three questions in number 7, but all are important to remember. If a person tries to conform to this list, 2011 will be happy, productive and successful. Thank you for sharing such great advice.

    Peggy Dallmann

  12. Thank you for this list, John! I read it in December and I am reading it again today.

    The first time, I made it into a nicely printed legal size page with a border, and I copied it to send to my adult children and to give to my husband for his bulletin board in his study.

    I believe that Schuster's advice, as with much of what we read today from times gone by, is timeless. If we heed his words - and follow - we can't go far wrong.

    #3 is my absolute #1 for this year - I must practice to Focus! Focus! Focus!

    Following closely are #s 8, 9, and 10.

    It's hard to put them in order - that's why this list makes so much sense!

    Thanks for the reminder!

    Ann Jordan-Mills

  13. Great article and very sound advice. It was the foundation of business then and certainly still is today!

    Mark Kearns

  14. Maybe I should do a print out and secure it all over the house.If it will help, I certainly will do so.

    Today I'll do so!

    To all those who want to be a successful writer, you have the power. Just do it!


  15. Inspiration with substance! Thank you.

    Guest (Debra Delmore)

  16. excellent advice and encouragement, thanks.

    Guest (Karl)

  17. A great read -- thanks! Years ago I helped young women get into businesses of their own in the creative marketing arena. My first and most important piece of advice to those who wanted to be writers, was to tell them to become an expert in something, anything! I never knew Schuster said it too. Cool.

    Guest (Krissy)

  18. First class suggestions. I'm not sure if Mr Schuster is fairly represented in item 5. 'Healthy' is an adjective. 'Healthily' is the adverb.

    Guest (Harry B)

  19. I really think that Everyone needs to post this and read it at least once a week. I began implimenting several of these ideas. Miracles in my business are occurring as I type. Great Success to all!

    Guest (CreekWizard)

  20. Great thoughts! I would like to wrap them all together with "Nothing happens by chance and there are no accidents in life".


  21. Thank you for sharing your wisdoms. I willl think about this and come up with a plan for the New Year.

    Guest (Svenskasandy)

  22. This is a beautiful article worth reciting daily. A good number of us who have not achieved much after our training will likely look at SUCCESS differently.
    God bless you for publishing this article early in the year. Whoever fails after this, will have himself to blame!

    Silvanus Okeke

  23. Love the advice. Great mixture of down-to-earth, practical advice and soul searching questions.
    Thanks. will read, re-read and re-read again.

    Guest (Therese Mayor)

  24. This list is a definite "Keeper." After reading Michael Master's +The Pledge+, the advise in number six jumped off the page at me: "Work hard, think big, and always have a dream beginning with a detailed blueprint and plan for your agenda, your priorities, your first things first."

    Especially, the part about have a detailed blueprint and plan! If anyone is looking for a great way to plan, I recommend Michael Masterson's +The Pledge+!!!

    Guest (Susan)

  25. Great advice, especially nos. 10 & 11 are very relevant in today's world.Thanks.

    Dr Gautam Prakash Sahai

  26. Thanks for the list. I've written it down and it is now part of my learning material that I review often

    Guest (butch247)

  27. I loved this list when I read it December & printed it out then, filed it in a special notebook. After reading comments, I realize I should display it at my work area to chew on it daily. I hope to work on all 11 steps but will especially focus on #9 - an area that has been my undoing in times past.
    Thanks a million!
    K T

    K T

  28. Great advice and I'm going to keep it available to read often as a reminder. Max Lincoln Schuster was a very wise man.

    Guest (Karen Cioffi)

  29. I love lists! Most people do... unless it's a long to-do list! Here's the points I most want to remember:
    1. Become an expert in something.
    2. Help people find solutions.
    3. Be prepared for whatever you do.
    4. Exercise and eat healthy.
    5. Think big and make a detailed blueprint.

    Dick Robinson

  30. Nice... Very nice article to start the year with. 2011 is indeed a year for change in many ways for me. This article is now a daily poster for a continued affirmation toward honest, integral success. Moreover, a lovely reminder such as this will be a good foundation for the new upcoming structure for anyone.
    Thanks for all the past, present and future insight from all of you at AWAI.

    G W Mozley

  31. As they always say " Cicumstances may change but principles never change". Lincoln Schuster has got great ideas, i'm not surprised was regard as an "accomplished thinker" I always about idea - because it rule the world. His treasured tips will forever lived as long as the world exist. Fortunately for me i have just applied some the tips in personal development program for business owners and entrepreneurs. It was really a huge success! I can't wait to read more of his works. Thanks

    Guest (Leslie Ademola)

  32. This is a must to add to my daily reading until I am able to digest and utilize every bite of it in my life.
    Thank you for sharing this excellent article.
    Great advice.

    Marcellus Greene

  33. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and again, thank you! - for this great reminder. Reading this I know that this is all true, it resonates so profoundly in me because I have experienced it when I've followed these life principles and when I've not, and felt the exhilaration of life when have and the dismay at the diminishing of life when I have not. Something to keep close by and read and do every day.


  34. Thanks for the reminder. Whenever I apply these princiles I advance.
    A six figure public servant.

    Guest (Joseph)

  35. Thank you for pointing this article out to me.It is full of wonderful advice that is now written in my notebook for easy access. We can learn great lessons from quotes of our elders.


  36. Wow! Thanks for this post. This article has reinforced the way I have been feeling for the past few weeks. keep up the good work.

    Guest (Tasia)

  37. Thank God people are wiling to share their knowledge and wisdom. A great article, thanks Catherine Phelps


  38. Absolutely LOVE this article. The basic truths are so easy to forget with information being thrown at us from every direction. I was especially moved by #1. I will start this immediately!

    Guest (Dana)

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