Where to start! Try these Steven Covey, Og Mandino, Jim Rohn, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, Viktor Frankl and Napoleon Hill are in the list of top 100. These are the legends of personal development.
While we have choice, a small problem arises as to who do we pick. I might suggest it`s all about personal appeal at the time you have a look.
These trailblazers laid the foundation for today’s personal-development field, and they continue to inspire through their revolutionary works.
In the first-ever SUCCESS 25 list—which premiered in the January 2015 issue of SUCCESS— we salute 2014’s most influential leaders in personal growth. In this list, to kick off the celebration, we’ve chronicled the most successful achievement philosophers of all time.
Dive into the words from these legends that will shape your life:
Maya Angelou (1928–2014)
Writer, singer, activist, philanthropist, filmmaker: Maya Angelou was many things to many people, and when she passed away this year, the public mourning was palpable. Her message of equality, resilience and compassion inspired millions, and she wrote some three dozen books including best-sellers I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) and The Heart of a Woman.
Born in Arkansas, Angelou faced a broken family, poverty, sexual abuse and violence—amid the Great Depression and rampant racism—before age 10. But she worked hard and pursued her love of the arts. Around 1960, Angelou began to focus on writing and participating in the civil rights movement.
Over the next 55 years, her contributions were many and great, and she received more than 50 honorary degrees, as well as the Presidential Medal, the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Dale Carnegie (1888–1955)
Be friendly, smile, don’t criticize. When Dale Carnegie wrote those principles in How to Win Friends and Influence People, he became a guru to millions. Since its 1936 publication, the book has sold more than 15 million copies and is one of the all-time best-sellers.
Born to a Missouri farming family, Carnegie attended college, moved to New York City and began teaching public speaking. He soon realized that people also needed training in getting along with others, but there was no working handbook on human relations. So, after 15 years of research, he published How to Win Friends and Influence People, which moved to the top of the best-seller list and has remained on the list since then.
More opportunities followed, including a syndicated newspaper column and a national radio program. Carnegie also penned another best-seller How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
Carnegie’s work continues to attract some of the most successful people in the world, including a 20-year-old Warren Buffett, and Lee Iacocca when he began his automotive career; both attended Carnegie’s training course.
“Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.”
George S. Clason (1874–1957)
George S. Clason, owner of a mapmaking company, began writing about thriftiness and saving money to build wealth. After the stock market crash in 1929, his message had particular relevance, and he sought to bring his financial advice to an expanded readership.
In 1930 he compiled his favorite writings in The Richest Man in Babylon, published through his Clason Publishing Company. Today, it’s considered a classic, having sold more than 2 million copies in 26 languages.
Clason repackaged his message of frugality and enterprise under several titles, including Gold Ahead, Out of the Ruins of Babylon, Seven Remedies for a Lean Purse and Seven Keys to a Full Purse. Referenced in more than 100 books as a source of inspiration, Clason clearly made a lasting impact.
“Our prosperity as a nation depends upon the personal financial prosperity of each of us as individuals.”
Stephen Covey (1932–2012)
Best-selling author, entrepreneur and leadership icon Stephen Covey became one of the most sought-after voices in business, education and government of his time, personally teaching more than 35 heads of state. He was known for helping people from all walks of life realize the greatness within them.
Born in Salt Lake City, Covey developed an early passion for teaching. After attending Harvard Business School, he set out to teach principles that had universal and timeless applications. His first book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide, and was named among the top 20 business books by Forbes and the most influential business book of the 20th century by Chief Executive magazine.
His company, Franklin Covey, carries on his legacy in providing training and productivity tools to individuals and organizations.
“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”
Viktor Frankl (1905–1997)
Viennese psychiatrist and neurologist Viktor Emil Frankl was among the first to suggest that humans must have meaning before they have the will to live.
A survivor of Nazi concentration camps, he lost most of his family to the Holocaust, including his first wife. Yet Frankl concluded that man “can only live by looking into the future.” The author of more than 30 books in 43 languages and the recipient of 29 honorary doctorates, Frankl recognized the human need for purpose, and he worked to give that purpose not just to his patients but to the world.
His most famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, published in 1946, has sold more than 9 million copies. In 1997 he finished his final book, Man’s Search For Ultimate Meaning. The American Journal of Psychiatry called Frankl’s life’s work “perhaps the most significant thinking since Freud and Adler.”
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Paul Harvey (1918–2009)
Paul Harvey, one of the great broadcasters of our time, was known for his steadfast belief in the importance of the ordinary citizen and the happenings of everyday life.
Born in a working-class neighborhood in Tulsa, Okla., Paul Harvey Aurandt developed an early fascination with radios. As a teen, he landed a job at a local radio station and was hooked. His career quickly blossomed, including hosting Jobs for G.I. Joe; Paul Harvey News; and Paul Harvey News and Comment, which remained his primary newscast until his dying day.
Listeners were buoyed by his optimism, and Harvey went on to share his message via television, public speaking, newspaper columns and books. One of those books was 1977’s The Rest of the Story, which contained 82 of Harvey’s signature mystery-history anecdotes. That, in turn, inspired its own radio feature, The Rest of the Story, a series with an American history angle.
In 2005, Harvey was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. When he died in 2009, Harvey had spent almost seven decades on the airwaves, and at one point, he had some 24 million listeners on 1,200 stations weekly.
“Every pessimist who ever lived has been buried in an unmarked grave. Tomorrow has always been better than today, and it always will be.”
Napoleon Hill (1883–1970)
As a young reporter, Oliver Napoleon Hill landed the interview of his life: steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who tasked Hill with creating a compilation of success principles from great businessmen and leaders. Hill went on to meet Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller and more.
Hill published his The Law of Success in 1928, offering wisdom from great achievers. Hill followed that with Think and Grow Rich, considered among the greatest self-improvement books of all time, with more than 30 million copies sold worldwide. His primary message: “If you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it.”
Soon after, Hill met businessman W. Clement Stone, and the duo produced a host of books, courses, lectures and radio and television programs, as well as Success Unlimited, the predecessor to SUCCESS magazine.
“Before success comes to most people, they are sure to meet with some success, and perhaps some failure. When faced with defeat, the easiest and the most logical thing to do is to quit. That’s exactly what the majority of people do.”
Charlie “Tremendous” Jones (1927–2008)
Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, a self-proclaimed “book evangelist,” discovered the power of reading as an insurance salesman in his 20s and began sharing that experience with others. At 37, he retired from insurance and created Life Management Service and Executive Books, selling books by the thousands to business leaders. He also began conducting seminars and promoting books and reading full time.
For more than 40 years, the internationally acclaimed personal-development mentor and speaker worked to help people improve their lives through reading. Jones committed his estate to a foundation to promote reading to students, and he devoted much of his time to raising money for three libraries. His book, Life is Tremendous, has sold more than 2 million copies.
“Everyone has a success mechanism and a failure mechanism. The failure mechanism goes off by itself. The success mechanism only goes off with a goal. Every time we write down and talk about a goal we push the button to start the success mechanism.”
Og Mandino (1923–1996)
A famous inspirational speaker and author with book sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide, Og Mandino was once an alcoholic failure.
As a young World War II veteran, Mandino spiraled into despair and poverty. But his life took a turn for the better because of a chance encounter with the work of success experts W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill, coupled with Mandino’s own willingness to take action.
Having failed in his first job in insurance sales, he was determined to succeed as he re-entered the field, armed with the principles and techniques he had absorbed from hundreds of books. Within a year, he was promoted to sales manager, and was breaking sales records.
A pamphlet he wrote about selling gained him a job doing promotional writing, and ultimately, Mandino became editor of Stone’s Success Unlimited. Within 10 years Mandino turned this booklet into a national magazine, and his writing attracted the interest of a book publisher. He went on to become the author of 22 top-selling books, including his most famous, The Greatest Salesman in the World.
“Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.”