“Therefore, if I must be a slave to habit let me be a slave to good habits. My bad habits must be destroyed and new furrows prepared for good seed.” ~ Og Mandino
Og Mindano’s moment of transformation came on a cold November morning in the dusty self-help section of the Cleveland Library. It was his burning bush moment, a moment that altered Mindano’s life and would later alter the lives of millions.
Og Mindano (1923-1996) has been called “The Greatest Salesman in the World.” His 1968 book, by the same title, has sold fourteen million copies and has been translated around the world into 18 languages. The Greatest Salesman in the World is the first, and considered by some as the best, in Og Mandino’s trilogy, which includes The Greatest Secret in the World and The Greatest Miracle in the World. One of the world’s most successful authors, Mindano has sold over 36 million copies worldwide of his many books.
Unbelievably, his incredible life of success and accomplishment was initially cluttered with personal challenges, tragedy and an alcohol-fueled path of self-destruction.
At the age of 19, Mindano joined the United States Army Air Corps where he became a military officer and a bombardier. During World War II he flew thirty bombing missions over Germany on a B-24 Liberator. Although decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross, he was unable to find employment after the war. He opted to sell insurance, door-to-door, which proved to be a miserable drudgery.
In his autobiography, A Better Way to Live, he describes trying to sell insurance during this period: “The treadmill I soon found myself on was torture. Never was I more than a few paces ahead of several bill collectors, and making the monthly mortgage payments was a major challenge despite my long hours of work. I would go anywhere, at any time, to try to sell a policy, and still there were always more bills than money to pay them.”
Bewildered and exhausted, Mandino began stopping at bars in the evening, reasoning that after each day of disappointment, he deserved a drink. His slow pathway to self-destruction was littered with denial, justification and irrational thought. Mandino rationalized that his drinking was a good thing that helped him cope with stress and somehow proved that he was special. His world became that of the alcoholic, trapped in a dark, egocentric place and devoid of reality.
In King Duncan’s The Amazing Law of Influence, the dramatic contradictions in Mandino’s life become apparent:
“For two long years, Mandino was a derelict, an alcoholic, and in his own words, a bum. He lost his job, his home, his wife, and his little girl. At one point he passed a pawn shop and saw a gun in the window for sale for twenty-nine dollars. He had thirty dollars in his pocket. He said he was sorely tempted to buy that gun and end it all, but he did not have the courage.”
It was his lowest point, a place where he was forced to examine how low he had sunk. For Mandino, suffering from the progressive disease of alcoholism, things had to get worst before they got better. He had to hit rock bottom, that nebulous concept within the recovery community, albeit a concept that inevitably manifests in some horrible physical, mental or spiritual form.
In a 1994 interview with The Manchester Union Leader, he said that when he was 35 he considered himself a failure with a drinking problem. Mandino began a personal quest
for answers and found himself in the Cleveland, Ohio Library’s self-help section, searching through books about motivation and success. He later recalled how warm and comforting it was as he rummaged through the pages. It became the “ahh ha” moment which begat a journey taking him to libraries across the country. Serendipitously, in New Hampshire, he found a book by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, that Mandino said saved his life.
Later writing the (re-published) book’s preface, Mandino said, “I spent much time in public libraries because they were free — and warm. I read everything from Plato to Peale, seeking that one message that would explain to me where I had gone wrong — and what I could do to salvage the remainder of my life.
“I finally found my answer in W. Clement Stone’s and Napoleon Hill’s Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. I have employed the simple techniques and methods found in this classic for more than fifteen years and they have provided me with riches and happiness far beyond anything I deserve. From a penniless vagrant without a single root I eventually became the president of two corporations and the executive director of the finest magazine of its kind in the world, Success Unlimited.”
“For two long years, Mandino was a derelict, an alcoholic, and in his own words, a bum.”
Mandino was influenced by people that he didn’t personally know, however, their words altered the course of his life and would then, like a ripple in a pond, affect countless others. Mandino’s new habit of reading and studying slowly replaced his drinking habit. Eventually, he experienced an awakening, a dramatic shift in his beliefs and his behaviors. He had replaced one habit for another, one of the central themes in his soon-to-be-published book.
So impressed with W. Clement Stone’s book, Mandino decided that he wanted to work for him at the Combined Insurance Company. There, he discovered overnight success. Within a year he was promoted to sales manager and was recruiting and training other agents. Then, as editor of Stone’s Success Unlimited, Mandino turned this small organizational booklet into a national magazine.
Mandino’s greatest accomplishment grew out of a short story published in Success Unlimited that attracted book publisher Fred Fell, who suggested the article be expanded into a book. The Greatest Salesman in the World was a simple book, told in a clear, easy writing style that read like a fable as it blended mythology and spirituality with empowerment.
Mandino believed that all successful people take on their own lives by “charting” or consciously choosing both the desired destination and the path to reach it. Mandino’s intention was to pass on his secrets of success by bequeathing ten scrolls to his readers. The book presents a guide for behavior modification and success through a list of ten Scrolls, which include:
• Scroll I – The Power of Good Habits
• Scroll II – Greet Each Day With Love In Your Heart
• Scroll III – Persist Until You Succeed
• Scroll IV – You Are Natures Greatest Miracle
• Scroll V – Live Each Day as if it Were Your Last
• Scroll VI – Master Your Emotions
• Scroll VII – The Power of Laughter
• Scroll VIII – Multiply Your Value Every Day
• Scroll IX – All is Worthless Without Action
• Scroll X – Pray to God for Guidance
Mandino harbored some interesting observations concerning alcoholism and maladaptive behaviors. He recognized that while bad habits could destroy us, good habits could free us from the shackles of slavery, whatever the form. Explaining his beliefs he wrote, “I will form good habits and become their slave. And how will I accomplish this difficult feat? Through these scrolls it will be done, for each scroll contains a principle which will drive a bad habit from my life and replace it with one which will bring me closer to success. For it is another of nature’s laws that only a habit can subdue another habit.”
His instructions were to read Scroll I three times a day for 30 days straight. Only after completing the 30 days of reading Scroll I, should you continue to Scroll II and so forth through Scroll X. In Scroll I, he instructed, “Failure will no longer be my payment for my struggle. Just as nature made no provision for my body to tolerate pain neither has it made any provision for my life to suffer failure.
Failure, like pain, is alien to my life. In the past I accepted it as I accepted pain. Now I reject it and I am prepared for wisdom and principles which will guide me out of the shadows into the sunlight of wealth, position, and happiness far beyond my most extravagant dreams until even the golden apples in the Garden of Hesperides will seem no more than my just reward.”
For those suffering from the bondage of addiction, Mandino presents a message of empowerment and transformation that has been actualized by millions of global believers. It is a message worthy of consideration. He offered, “I will not fail as the others, for in my hands I now hold the charts (the Ten Scrolls) which will guide me through perilous waters to shores which only yesterday seemed but a dream.”
If Mandino’s suggested reading structure were followed, it would take about 10 months to read his book and, hopefully, reap the rewards.
Maxim W. Furek, MA, CADC, ICADC is passionately
researching the essence of happiness. His rich background includes aspects of psychology, addictions, mental health and music journalism. His book Sheppton: The Myth, Miracle &
Music explores the supernatural elements and psychological horror experienced by two trapped coal miners. Learn more at shepptonmyth.com