Failure or success? How to change the outcome?


Decades ago, the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote the following:

WHY are only the very few—women as well as men—successful in life? Just what is success? Here is the surprising answer to life’s most difficult problem, proving that NO HUMAN NEED EVER BECOME A FAILURE! All who have succeeded have followed these seven laws! The only WAY to success is not a copyrighted formula being sold for a price. You can’t buy it! The price is your own application to the seven existing laws.

DID IT EVER occur to you that there might be a reason why so many people make a failure of life? Not only men and career women, but wives and mothers to!

Are you one who is wrestling with the problem of “making ends meet”? Nearly all of us are. This problem need not mean failure—yet it often leads to it.

It is a fact—the vast majority do wind up failures. Yet none need fail!

Take a look at the facts in the world.

Is THIS Success?

Every two minutes someone in the United States attempts suicide. Each day nearly 70 persons succeed—but is that success? The World Health Organization estimates that some one thousand people commit suicide in the world—every day!

Suicides now outnumber murders. Now various organizations for the prevention of suicide are a reality! But the cause is individual failure!

Only a minority, of course, go to this extreme, but the overwhelming majority do end their lives in failure.

Much of the world is in current “prosperity.” Yet—in booming U.S.—more businesses failed in a very recent year than in any other in the last twenty-six. Across the world streaks the shocking trend of increasing failures. Scores of millions daily allow he creeping cancer of failure to chain them to a life of unhappy circumstances, from which only death promises release.

But why?

Why are only the very few really successful? Is it mere chance—is it just happen-so—can it be luck? Or are there definite reasons?

Why do all but the very few find themselves, by age 60 or 65, dependents? Why must there by old-age pensions, public welfare aid, charities to support the non-crippled, non-handicapped helpless? Why must children so often provide for aged parents—when it ought to be the other way around?

I am going to tell you why!

There are definite causes! Seven basic laws govern success! It is high time people come to know them, and end this unhappy and needless tragedy!

Finding the Answer

When I was a young man of twenty-three, I was a member of the editorial staff of a national magazine. I was sent on tours over the United States, covering ten or fifteen states each tour. My assignment was investigating business conditions, reporting workable ideas and facts. I interviewed businessmen and chamber of commerce officials. I discussed with merchants and manufacturers their problems. I searched out ideas and methods that had been successfully applied in sales promotion, public relations, cutting costs, speeding up turnover, increasing profits.

One of the things my editors assigned me to investigate was the reason behind the success of the few, and the failure of the many. Some 95% of smaller independent merchants were reported by Dun and Bradstreet to be heading toward bankruptcy.

Of course, we were concerned then only with the success or failure of men. But the same laws apply to the lives of women.

I asked the opinions of hundreds of businessmen. Most thought success resulted merely from superior ability, and failure from the lack of it. But this opinion consigned the majority to failure from birth without a chance. If a man lacked the ability, he was foredoomed to failure. There seemed nothing he could do about it. I was not satisfied with this ides—and later I proved it false.

The manager of the large J.L. Hudson department store in Detroit thought failure generally resulted from lack of adequate capital. A minority interviewed agreed with him. But this, also, made dollars, and not the man, responsible for success or failure.

Actually, investigation showed these to be contributing factors, but only that. A more prevalent factor, I found, was fitting the proverbial “square peg in the round hole.” Most failures were misfits. Most, had they known these seven laws, could have made a success in the field where they best fit.

This quest for the reasons for success or failure intrigued me. My research on this question did not stop with these editorial tours. Observation and analysis of this problem have continued through the years.

And I know, now, that no human being need ever become a failure!

Failures are not foredoomed. Success does not just happen! It is governed by seven definite laws. If you know them, and apply them, the happy result, in the end , is assured.

Every individual was put on this earth for a PURPOSE! Every person was put here to become a success. Every human ought to enjoy the sweet taste of success—to find peace and happiness—to live an interesting, secure, and abundant life! And in order that all might—if willing—reap such full and abundant rewards, the Creator set in motion actual, definite LAWS to produce that desired result.

The tragedy is that through the centuries and millenniums man has turned his back on those laws—those causes of the very success he craves! The world long ago ignored and forgot them. Today, most people do not know what they are. Most people have not followed a single one of the seven basic laws.

I ask in all candor—isn’t that a shocking state of human affairs? It is, in fact, the colossal tragedy of all history!

You Can’t Buy it!

If some recognized authority had a copyrighted plan to sell that was guaranteed to make all who follow it prosperous and successful, I suppose people by the thousands would flock to buy the plan.

One man had such a plan. It was a sort of pseudo “psychological” religion. He promised the plan would make its followers prosperous or rich—the easy way, of course. Its propagator advertised that it had made him rich. He boasted of his fine home, his great high-ceiling pipe-organ room. The inference was that it would make its purchasers equally prosperous—but he neglected to mention that it was the naïve dupes who bought his bogus plan who made him rich.

This man stumbled onto an advertising catch-phrase for a headline in magazine and newspaper advertisements, which multiplied responses. He used it for years. But ultimately it wore itself out. This charlatan’s “success” was neither real nor lasting. He was, himself, a colossal failure.

The only way to true success is not a formula being sold like merchandise.

You can’t buy it with money. It comes to you free—without money, and without price. There is a price, of course—your own application of these definite laws. It is not guaranteed to be the easy way—but it is guaranteed to by the only way to real success!

Clark Gable—Success?

It so happens that on the very morning of the day this was originally written, I read in a London newspaper the obituary of Clark Gable, motion picture celebrity. I suppose the world would rate him a great success. But was he?

Just what is success, anyway?

How can people win success when so few know what it is?

I was struck with a number of things in this cinema-star’s obituary. My mind, of course, was on this theme, since I was at the moment writing on it.

Clark Gable was heralded on page one of this newspaper as king of the films. He was described as “the romantic hero of 90 films.” He was one of the first ten money-making stars in the years 1932-43, 1947-49, and 1955. That is 16 years. And the top film stars make fabulous incomes. “He was, ” said the obituary, “one of the few screen idols to stay the course for so long.” But does all that spell SUCCESS?

One of the “fascinating” things mentioned about his life was that he had been married five times! Would we consider at least three failures in marriage (one wife was killed in an air crash) SUCCESS? The obituary said he cultivated “the furrowed brow, the knowing frown, the half-closed eyes, those ears and the wise-guy leer.” They were not natural. He deliberately cultivated them for the women. “Clark Gable,” said the obituary, “had cultivated these for the girls for nearly the whole of his romantic reign.” You might have called it his trademark. He would.” “It’s just a business to me, always has been,” he explained. It was just his way of “earning a living.”

Rich Men I Have Known

In my lifetime I have had close and intimate contact almost constantly with recognized successful men. From age 18, in early life—within the United States. From middle-age—worldwide. I have read many books and articles written by such men, numerous biographies and autobiographies of the great and the near great—their experiences, their philosophies. I know how these leaders among men think, how they act, what principles and rules they follow.

One factor characterized nearly every one of these men. They made money. They acquired material possessions. Many headed big corporations. They achieved recognition as being important.

Significantly, most of these man practiced the first SIX of the seven laws of success. That is tremendously important!

There was the president of a great motor car corporation at the time when I was the young assistant secretary of the Chamber of Commerce in his city. He made money. He was recognized in the world as important. He rose to the top in his profession and industry. But in the flash depression of 1920 his corporation passed into receivers’ hands, he lost his personal material gains—and he ended his life a suicide! ? Was he, after all, a success. He neglected not only the seventh, but also the sixth.

Then there were two great bankers whom I knew, one of them quite intimately. This was Mr. Arthur Reynolds, president of the then second largest national bank in America. I first knew Mr. Reynolds when he was president of a bank in the city where I was born. Later, as an ambitious and rising young advertising man in Chicago, I went to him often for personal counsel and advice. He was always interested, helpful. And I always considered his advice sound, and followed it. Mr. Reynolds won a measure of national and worldwide fame.

Some thirty-five years later I walked into his great bank and inquired of one of its many vice-presidents whether he knew where Mr. Reynolds had moved, and where he had died. I had heard that he had retired and moved to our headquarters city, Pasadena, and died there. This vice president had never heard of Arthur Reynolds. “Who was he? he asked.

He inquired around. No one he asked remembered Arthur Reynolds. Finally the public relations secretary sent to the bank’s library, and presently a clerk brought a newspaper clipping. It was the sole record the bank seemed to possess of its former president, who, with his brother, was largely responsible for building up this bank to its great size and importance. The clipping was from a San Mateo, California, newspaper. It told of his death in that San Francisco suburb.

After reading it, I handed the clipped obituary back.

“You’ll certainly want to keep this,” I remarked. “It must be valuable to the bank.”

“Oh, no,” he replied. “If you knew him, take it along.”

And thus I carried from that great bank what probably was the only record of this man in the bank of which he was so long president. His “success” was not lasting. It was not long remembered.

During his busy lifetime, this man applied the first SIX of the seven rules of success. Yet whatever success he achieved was fleeting, and although he had accumulated money, acquired a nice block of stock in the bank, lived in a fine home, became recognized as important in his lifetime, all of his “success” died with him!

The other great banker was Mr. John McHugh. I first knew him as president of a bank on a Midwest city. Then I had an hour’s interesting chat with him in the Willard Hotel in Washington during the American Bankers’ Association national convention in 1920. He was then president of a well-known New York City bank. Later, consolidations of several New York banks elevated him two offices higher than the president of the then largest bank in the world. Yet some 36 years later when I inquired about him at this great bank, the answer was the same—”Who’s he? Never heard of him!” His “success” did not live after him.

But there is a real success that endures!

But IS This Success?

Yes, I have been privileged to know many of the great and the near great—especially in the American business world. I have known multimillionaire capitalist, chief executives of great corporations and banks, cabinet members in the national administration at Washington, authors, artists, lecturers, college and university heads.

For the most of them, success meant the acquisition of money and material possessions, and being of recognized status.

One important man I know was Elbert Hubbard, philosopher, prolific writer, publisher, lecturer, known as “the Sage of East Aurora.” “The Fra,” as he sometimes styled himself, became quite famous. He wore semi-long hair under an extra-size hat, and a string bow tie. He was said to be worth a half million dollars at a time when that equaled three million or more on today’s market.

He published two magazines, composed mostly of his own writings, The Philistine, and The Fra. He boasted the largest vocabulary of any man since Shakespeare. He published An American Bible, shocking many of the religious yet explaining that the word “bible” merely means “book,” not necessarily implying sacred writings, unless the word “HOLY” is prefaced. His “bible” consisted of his selection of choice writings from American authors. He included Franklin, Emerson, Paine, Jefferson, Lincoln, and, of course, Hubbard!He allotted nearly half of the entire volume to Hubbard—and all other famous Americans combined shared the remainder.

Hubbard was not the victim of an inferiority complex, and he preached a positive philosophy. He did have rare insight and wisdom in purely material matters, and a keen understanding of human nature.

He knew that “important” men craved flattery as an actor enjoys applause. A large share of his fortune was made by writing an almost endless series of booklets, captioned Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great and the Near-Great. These were printed, of course, in rare style in his own Roycroft Press. Dozens and scores of America’s rich and famous men paid Hubbard premium prices to write them up in his inimitable literary style.

An interesting sidelight on Mr. Hubbard’s concept of success came spontaneously from his lips one Sunday afternoon. He and I were chatting at his Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, New York.

“I asked a Unitarian minister,” I said, “whether he had ever been able to discern just what your religious belief really is—if any.”

“Fra Elbertus” was interested at once. “And what did he say?” he asked, curiously.

“He said he wasn’t quite sure, but he suspected that whatever your religion may be, it probably originated in your pocketbook and bank account.” There was no denial.

“Ho, ho,” laughed Elbert Hubbard, “well, I get away with it, don’t I?”

But was Elbert Hubbard a real success, after all? By human standards, I suppose he was. He knew and applied the first six of the seven laws of success. He worked hard and industriously, and he reaped a bounteous harvest—of money, popularity, acclaim. He and his wife Alice Hubbard went down together into the depths of the Atlantic when a German submarine sank the Lusitania. This was one of the overt acts of the Kaiser’s forces that plunged America into World War 1.

But his fame did not appear to last. One seldom hears of him any more.

Hubbard knew material values. But his agnosticism closed the door—and threw away the key—that led to an understanding of spiritual values. He never quite understood the real PURPOSE of life itself. He wasn’t sure whether there was a Creator. He was convinced that fundamentalist or traditional “Christianity” was an impractical superstition. He didn’t know WHY humanity was placed on the earth—or whether it just happened! He didn’t know man’s real potential destiny. He didn’t know the seventh law of success. And, not knowing or following that seventh rule, he drove himself, by the diligent practice of the six, in the wrong direction — diametrically away from true success!

It Never Satisfied

What was the real meaning of life to these “successful” men?

Their goal in life—their definition of success—was material acquisition, recognition of status by society, and the passing enjoyment of the five senses.

But the more they acquired, the more they wanted, and the less satisfied they became with what they had. When they got it, it was never enough.

Some “successful” men of the world maneuver to get their pictures on page one of metropolitan newspapers, or on the front covers of national magazines. This inflates and briefly titillates ego, but it never satisfies for long. There’s nothing the public forgets so quickly as yesterday’s news!

Such men seek the flattery of others, and engage in back-slapping to invite it. But, like an actor’s applause (the word always makes me think of “applesauce”) it doesn’t last and leaves them flat, with a gnawing inner hunger for something that will satisfy! So they become restless, discontented.

Their bank accounts may be full, but their lives are empty. And what they do acquire, which is never enough and never satisfies, they leave behind when they die!

What is wrong?

Such men started out with the wrong goals. They had not discerned the true values, but pursued the false.

Isn’t it about time we learn the true definition of SUCCESS?

Perhaps the prize example of all history is that of an ancient king, who strove hard, accomplished much, gained fabulous wealth. He experimented with every pleasure, to see whether it brought happiness.

This man said to himself, “Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; enjoy yourself.”

Continuing to describe his experiment, this man wrote: “I searched with my mind how to cheer my body with wine—my mind still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good.”

This ancient king was young enough to try to really enjoy life. He could afford it, too. He was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived—with the resources of a nation at his command. If there was not enough money for a project he dreamed up, he simply raised the taxes.

So, he continued writing of his experiment in searching for happiness and success, “I went in for great works.” Stupendous national works and projects. “I built mansions, planted vineyards, laid out gardens and parks for myself, in which I planted all manner of fruit trees, making pools to water the trees in my plantations. I bought slaves, both men and women, and had slaves born within my household. I had large herds and flocks, larger than any before me. I amassed silver and gold, right royal treasures; I procured singers, both men and women, and many a mistress, man’s delight. Richer and richer I grew, more than any before me in my country . . . Nothing I coveted did I refuse myself: I denied my heart no enjoyment—for my heart did feel pleasure in all this—so much I did get from all my efforts.

“But, ” he concluded, “when I turned to look at all I had achieved and at my efforts and trouble, then it was all vain and futile . . . all was VANITY, and a striving after wind. Nothing in this world is worthwhile.

“Utterly vain, utterly vain, everything is VANITY,” wrote this king, after his life of experimenting. All it led to was striving—yes, always striving—and for what? “After WIND,” he concluded. All that a lifetime of hard work, vigorous application, material accomplishment brought him, he concluded, amounted to no more that a HANDFUL OF WIND!

This man was called the wisest man who had ever lived. He was King Solomon of ancient Israel. But in all his costly experimenting he never found the true values—the meaning of true and lasting SUCCESS!

And WHY?

Simply because, with all his wisdom, this man sought pleasure—happiness—success—his own way, in materialism. In the beginning the Eternal Creator designated and set in motion living laws for the very purpose of producing happiness, abundant living, pure and continuous joy, in all humans who would follow them. These are the seven great laws of SUCCESS. King Solomon, like nearly all the world’s “successful” men, applied diligently the first six—but without the seventh, he started out in the wrong direction. The more he strove, the farther he went—in the direction away from true and lasting success.

He knew this seventh law. But, “Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Eternal. . . he did not keep what the Eternal commanded. Therefore the Eternal said to Solomon, ‘Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my rules which I commanded, I will surely tear the kingdom from you’ ” (1 Kings 11:6-11).

Now let me tell you the experience of a modern king. He was a close personal friend of ex-King Saud of Arabia, to whom I have been personally presented. Wealth came suddenly to Sheik Ali of Qatar (pronounced “”gutter”).

Qatar is a little Arabian country jutting into the Persian gulf. The big oil boom recently came to Sheik Ali’s little kingdom. It paid the country of 35,000 population 50 million dollars a year, of which 121/2 million went personally to old Sheik Ali, age 69.

Now what would you do with it, if you suddenly came into 121/2 million dollars a year?

The answer, in all probability, is that you would not do what you now think you would! That much money, coming suddenly into one’s hands, usually changes one’s ideas completely. That’s what it did to old Sheik Ali.

Immediately he began to build big gaudy pink, green, and gold palaces in the midst of malodorous mud hovels. They were air-conditioned, ultramodern, even equipped with push button window curtains! And now the newly wealthy sheik could avoid the 120-degree bake-oven summers of the desert.

He chartered whole airliners and took with him a retinue so large that his newly purchased palatial villa on Lake Geneva could not hold them all, and they overflowed into various resort hotels.

Then Sheik Ali indulged in the $1,000,000 purchase of a magnificent mansion overlooking Beirut—and the beautiful Mediterranean. When King Saud paid him a royal visit, he presented the king with 16 automobiles. One was embellished with gold. Old Sheik Ali became so generous in his self-indulgences, that his debts, over and beyond his fabulous income, soon mounted to 14 million dollars!

The news stories filtered around the world of how the Sheik just simply could not make ends meet on a mere 121/2 dollars a year! About the 1st of November, 1960, he abdicated in favor of his son Ahmed, age 40. A new advisory council arranged to pay old Ali’s debts, and give him a pension large enough only to provide for a mere handful of servants and a few wives.

Poor old Ali! He found it harder to make ends meet on 121/2 million annual dollars than he did in comparative poverty.


Certainly NOTHING in life is more important than to know: what is real success—and how to achieve it.

His ‘seven laws of success’ are then included in that booklet: The Seven Laws of Success.

The Continuing Church of God has also produced a sermon titled Christian Success.  While the “seven laws of success” that are in the booklet The Seven Laws of Success by the late Herbert W. Armstrong were used, a lot more scriptures were included than that booklet used. And while physical success was also discussed, the sermon put more emphasis on spiritual success, which is what truly is needed to not be a failure.

People can change if they will willingly humble themselves and take various steps.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Christian Success: What does the Bible teach? Does the Bible teach that Christians are to be successful? Are there at least seven laws of success that Christians should follow? How does the Bible teach we are to become successfully spiritually? Does the Bible really teach that Christians should be successful physically? This video answers these questions and more from the Bible. An outline of some of the scriptures used is here: Christian Success Outline.
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know? Does God actually have a plan for YOU personally?
Living as a Christian: How and Why? In what ways do Christians live differently than others. What about praying, fasting, tithing, holy days, and the world? There is also a YouTube video related to that also called: Living as a Christian: How and Why?
The Seven Laws of Success Booklet by Herbert W. Armstrong that can help people become successful.

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