The Success System That Never Fails by W Clement Stone – Book Review

Title and Author : The Success System That Never Fails by W. Clement Stone

Synopsis of Content:

Success is a system. It can be learned from those who have achieved success. In this book Stone accounts his own meteoric success going from poverty to riches and starting out in the Great Depression. He teaches what he learned from life experience, business, his mentors and others who taught him how to succeed in business.

The Success System that never fails covers the importance of selecting the correct environment for success, understanding the formula for success, thinking for oneself, the importance of taking action, and many other rules and disciplines that lead to success.

Stone teachers what he calls the three essentials for success: Inspiration to Action; Know How; and Activity Knowledge. These would also be understood as inspiration and motivation, knowledge of how to do something, and knowledge gained from experience. Each of these is essential in the pursuit of success.

He stresses the importance of proper planning and goal setting, how it takes less effort to succeed than to fail, finding and maintaining the right course to success, the importance of energy and motivation and the importance of the right team.

Stone was a devout man and he included discussions of the importance of personal faith and prayer. He also touches on what later became known as the power of attraction. He discusses the importance of developing success oriented skills such as becoming an effective public speaker, how to use your mind to achieve more, how to relate and assimilate useful information and many small steps that lead to success.

Stone's formulae for success are the traditional list of having a purpose, planning, using goals, working hard, working smart, and constant learning and improvement. While you will not find any new or revolutionary in this classic work you will find the solid success tools that have worked for millions of people for centuries and remain just as valid today as they were in 1962 when the book was written.

The examples and mentors he lists are dated a bit but they certainly illustrate his points well. To truly understand where success literature and theory is today it is useful to study its history. Stone was not a pioneer in this work but he worked with at least one such pioneer and studied others.

Readability / Writing Quality:

This book is very readable. It was ahead of its time in its careful organization. Atypical of books of that period does not contain large blocks of text but is broken down into an easy to follow outline form with many illustrations.

Notes on Author:

W. Clement Stone was one of the most successful salesman and businessman of the mid 20th century. He turned $ 100 into one of the largest insurance companies in the world and launched it in the middle of the Great Depression. He was also a student of success and a collaborator with Napoleon Hill during the 1950s.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

1. You can neutralize a negative emotion that limits you through properly directed action. You can change how you feel and think through your own directed action.

2. While learning and planning are critical to success nothing is more important than taking action and striking when opportunity presents itself. "Do it Now" is an axiom that will empower you.

3. If you can not save money the seeds of success will remain forever elusive. Having a budget and planning for the future are essential.

Publication Information:

The Success System That Never Fails by W. Clement Stone

Copyright 1962 by W. Clement Stone

Published by Prentice Hall, Inc.

Rating for this Book

Overall Rating for Book: very good

Writing Style: easy to follow and understand.

Usefulness: very useful to anyone who aspires to succeed.

Disability Retirement For Federal Workers – The Importance of a Coherent and Consistent Application

Federal and Postal employees either fall into one of two possible retirement systems: FERS (an acronym for Federal Employee Retirement System) or CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System). Whichever system the Federal or Postal employee falls under, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement is an option which is available, in the event that a Federal Government worker is no longer able to perform at least one of the essential elements of one’s job. Remember that, in order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the medical condition or injury does not have to be job-related. Indeed, one could have incurred a career-ending spinal injury while on a skiing trip, and still qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS.

The Agency which determines that a Federal or Postal Employee is entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits is the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). They are empowered by statutory authority to scrutinize each application for approval or disapproval. In order to be eligible for the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement, one must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, three basic components:

(A) a Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS has a medical condition;

(B) the medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; and

(C) that the Agency is unable to accommodate the individual or, alternatively, to reassign the individual to a position in the same pay or grade.

In order to successfully prepare and submit an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, two overarching elements should always be kept in mind: Coherence and Consistency. “Coherence” has to do with the form of the application, while “consistency” has to do with the content, or substance of the application. Both elements are important in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application. Thus, an effective Federal Disability Retirement application will make logical sense and “fit together” with everything (coherence), as well as have an internal structure of information which agrees with one another (consistency).

How does one prove that he or she is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits? Is there a table or schedule of accepted medical conditions? As to the latter question, the general answer is “No”. Qualifying medical conditions have more to do with the symptoms of a medical condition, rather than the formal diagnosis. Thus, physical conditions can range from Cervical & Lumbar diseases, Degenerative Disc Disease, Spondylolisthesis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Failed Back Syndrome, Chronic Pain; Fibromyalgia; to total hip replacements which limit and restrict flexion and mobility; cardiac issues; migraine headaches; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Chemical Sensitivity issues; Asthma; Hypothyroidism; Plantar Fasciitis; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; shoulder problems, often referred to as bursitis or shoulder impingement syndrome; trochanteric bursitis; lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, as well as a great many other conditions which are not named here, and which are too numerous to catalogue. As for Psychiatric conditions, the list can be just as long: Major Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Bipolar Disorder, Agoraphobia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, ADD & ADHD; Paranoia; Schizophrenia; Asperger’s Syndrome; and multiple other psychiatric conditions. Whether attempting to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits based upon a physical medical condition or a psychiatric medical condition, it is important to prove that one is eligible for the benefit.

Which brings us to the first question: How does one prove that he or she is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, either under FERS or CSRS? In any application for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits, one must make sure that the application is both coherent, as well as consistent. Coherence of an application results when all of the various components of the application “fit” together. Thus, for example, in preparing the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A), Block 4 asks the applicant to “Fully Describe Your Disease or Injury”. If the disease or injury is a physical one, then the focus of the narrative should be to describe the pain, the physical restrictions and limitations, etc. Then, when one comes to Block 5, where it asks how your disease or injury interferes with the performance of “your duties, your attendance, or your conduct,” the focus should have a coherence with the previous answer – meaning that, if the narrative described physical issues, the impact upon one’s job should therefore focus upon the physical aspect of the job. Thus, by way of example, to say that you “cannot concentrate or focus” upon a certain aspect of the job, would only be coherent if either (A) the job required cognitive-intensive work and the severity of the pain impacted one’s cognitive faculties, or (B) the medications prescribed to alleviate the physical condition impacts one’s focus or concentration. Conversely, if the narrative concerning one’s medical condition entails primarily psychiatric issues, then the impact upon one’s job should encapsulate cognitive issues (i.e., focus, concentration, ability to analyze, evaluate, etc.). As you can see, coherence in an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an important component.

Furthermore, an effective application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS should be consistent. Each element of the application should “agree”, wherever possible, with all of the other components. Where inconsistencies occur – for example, between what the treating doctor says and what the applicant states in his or her explanation on SF 3112A – a red flag may arise, providing an opportunity for a denial from the Office of Personnel Management. Thus, don’t try to “oversell” the description of the medical condition. Remember how, when you were deathly ill but your voice sounded perfectly normal over the telephone? You had to call in sick, and you had to “sound like” you were sick, even though you were in fact deathly ill. In preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, this is not the time to “sound like” something more than what the treating doctor states.

Ultimately, the success or failure of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS as submitted to the Office of Personnel Management will depend upon the coherence and consistency of the application. Preparation is the key to success, and it is important to always remember that coherence and consistency are two elements which must always guide the formulation, preparation and submission of a successful Federal Disability Retirement application.

Communication Style

Are you a watchmaker or a tell-timer? You know which you are when you think about your answer to the question, what is the time? A tell-timer would simply look at their watch and answer the question directly whereas a watchmaker will want to tell you how the watch works before getting round to telling you the time. Does that story strike a chord with you? If so, then you understand this particular dimension of communication style i.e. verbosity.

Some people are much more verbose than others. Such people, when you meet them in the morning and ask them how they are will give you such a lengthy story that, about fifteen minutes later, you are truly sorry you asked. Their communication style is what Linda McCallister refers to, in her book Say What You Mean, Get What You Want, as ‘Socratic’ after Socrates, of course, a lover of dialogue and, as we all know, a star of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

You will probably be able to bring to mind examples; people who you know who use this wordy communication style. The difficulty for them is that the devil is always in the detail. They want to answer your questions, but they are often tempted to provide additional detail as background and context in order that you might understand their eventual answer.

Contrast that style with those who, when you greet them in the morning, barely look up from their work, grunt and then get back to what they were doing. Such people – Linda likes to call their style ‘noble’ (after Rousseau’s Noble Savage) – have a direct and blunt communication style. In many respects their style is a direct opposite of the Socratic style; not just in terms of verbosity, but also in the overall approach to the discussion of any particular topic.

With nobles, the approach is top-down, preferring to stay at an overview level and drilling down into detail only when and where it is required. This is exactly the opposite of the Socratic style which revels in the detail and generally wants to tell, and hear, the entire story beginning at the beginning and ending at the end, no matter how long it takes.

A third extreme of communication style is known as the ‘reflective’ style. These are the people who are asking how you are in the first place. They are the people who say good morning, good evening, have a nice weekend and so on. They are social animals, unable to walk past each other on the stairs without nodding and saying ‘hi’. For reflectors, the important thing about communicating is the human aspects. They observe the rules of social interaction, they say please and thank you, they are courteous and they expect the same from others.

When dealing with reflectors, introductions are very important and so too is chit-chat. For them, getting right down to business after saying hello is simply too abrupt a transition. They prefer some social interaction in between the introduction and the information exchange which forms the body of the communication.

In her book, Linda describes three other styles, which are simply combinations of the three we have just discussed: she calls them the ‘magistrate’, the’ candidate’ and the ‘senator’. The magistrate style is a blended style, the combination of noble and Socratic. The candidate is a blend of the Reflective and Socratic styles. The Senator, however, is a dual style (rather than a blend) which switches between noble and reflective styles according to context.

Since the latter three styles are simply blends or combinations of the three pure styles, we only need to concern ourselves with understanding these first three i.e. noble, Socratic and reflective because your own style will be some combination of these three influences. It is very unlikely that you will be an extreme of one style or another.

Now it is important to note that each of these groups get along best with individuals who use their preferred styles, so a key principle in learning how to communicate effectively is understanding how to adjust our own style to cater for the preferences of the person we are addressing. In other words, if we are speaking with a noble – someone who calls a spade a spade – we need to adopt a straight-forward approach to communication. We need to answer questions directly, even if we feel the person might not understand the answer. And that’s exactly how nobles like to be dealt with; if they need anything clarifying, they will prefer to ask.

If we are dealing with a reflective, we need to ensure that we are polite, that we introduce ourselves properly, that we show some interest in them personally and conform to the social dimensions of the interaction. Simply getting involved in a little pre-amble or social chit-chat before getting down to talking turkey is all it takes to make a significant improvement in our ability to deal with this group.

With Socratic communicators, there is always the difficulty of time, especially in the workplace where time is usually at a premium. But remember that the detail that is being offered is generally not irrelevant. Socratic communicators are usually not off-topic, like reflectors. They are providing background and context that is relevant, so we need to make a mental effort to give them our full attention.

Remember that none of these pure styles or their derivatives (magistrate, senator and candidate) are right as such, although each of them thinks their way is right. Nobles think that communication should be top-down, talking at an overview level and drilling into detail only where necessary. Socratics think that all avenues of a topic need to be fully explored before making decisions. And reflectors believe that the most important part of the interaction is the social part.

So part of the art of communicating well is learning to listen not only to what is being said, but to how it is being said. Listen for verbosity and social content; just those two things, and you will be able to figure out the other person’s bias toward one of these styles. Once you understand that, simply give them what they want.

If you can practice this simple method of adjusting your own communication style, despite your own biases and preferences, you will begin to get on with people you previously found difficult. They won’t know what you are doing. They will know you are doing something different but, generally, they will be unable to put their finger on what it is. They will just know that they are getting along with you a lot easier.

Eventually, if you continue to practice this method, you will get better at it and, eventually, you will no longer even have to think about it because the whole approach will become a natural part of you. Try it out for a month and watch the results. You can have a great deal of fun working with the idea and, in addition, you will be significantly improving your ability to communicate.

How to Handicap a Harness Race – A Simple System to Pick Winners at the Trots

Whether betting on trotters or pacers, if you want to make the most of your bets at the harness races, it is best to stick with a system, even if it is a simple one. Obviously, the more you learn about harness racing and handicapping, the better you'll do, but if you want something easy to get you started, here are a few good tips about harness that that you can use in a systematic method to pick harness winners .

First of all, in harness racing, the length of the track is very important because it determines how far each horse has to race and may give a big advantage to some horses. While most dashes, as they are called in North America, are a mile long, the tracks vary in length from a half mile to a mile. Half millers often give a big advantage to horses starting from the inside positions. It is very rare for a horse starting from a post position farther from the rail than the 5 post to have much of a chance on a half mile track.

The horses in outside posts do sometimes win, but that can be for one of several reasons, if they are far superior they have a chance, or if there is trouble in the race, like an accident or horses breaking stride, an outside horse sometimes wins. Otherwise, when handicapping half mile tracks, pay particular attention to post position and biases. Good past performances now supply an index which supplies that information in the form of a percentage. No matter how long the track, it is always a good idea to check the post position statistics. If you have little knowledge of picking winners, sticking with favorable posts is a good place to start.

The next step is the driver and trainer. While some harness drivers joke that they are just a passenger, if you read the statistics on the drivers, you'll find that some win up to three times as often as others. The same may be said of trainers. That information is usually posted right beside the driver and trainer names. A horse in an inside position with a good driver is starting to look like a good bet, is not it?

Harness horses, like all athletes, need to be in top condition to compete. What is the best way to find a harness horse in good form? Look for a horse who finished within two lengths of the winner in its last race or who posted the fastest time of any horse in the current race in one of its last two races. When you put the combination of a good post position together with a competent driver and trainer and a horse who is showing good form, you will have plenty of winners using this simple harness racing system.