We all draw inspiration from different places and it is my belief that a wealth of knowledge and guidance comes from the early innovators and creators of the success and motivational movement. Most modern speakers and experts, like Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins, usually refer to these figures as a beacon to their own voice. Being the avid reader that I am, I often turn to Napoleon Hill, Charles F.Haanel, Norman Vincent Peale, and the somewhat lesser known W. Clement Stone.
W. Clement Stone is truly one of the great pioneers of self-help philosophies. He is not as well known as some of the other big names but the legacy he has left behind is of equal import. His autobiography, “The Success System That Never Fails,” centers around his rise from poverty to great success as a salesman and his commitment to providing good service, going the extra mile, and living a life of philanthropy.
When Stone was only three years old he lost his father, who left his mother and him with little hope and a mound of gambling debt. He accepted responsibility very early in life and began selling newspapers in restaurants, a style he developed that was contrary to the usual methods of the time. Then he began selling insurance as a teenager to help his mother at a company she started and perfected techniques and philosophies for selling and closing that brought him many riches.
Stone attributes most of his success to the principles he learned from the books he read on the subject of self improvement, particularly the works of Napoleon Hill, whom he later collaborated with on many projects. He said, “One of the most important days in my life was the day I began to read “Think and Grow Rich.”” He also said that the Holy Bible was “the world’s greatest
These books caused him to go even further and develop philosophies about the power of the mind and being an altruistic human being. Moreover, it aligned him with his hero, Napoleon Hill, and they authored, “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude,” and the monthly magazine, “Success Unlimited.” These works cemented his belief in achieving goals and succeeding by developing a ‘Positive Mental Attitude’ or ‘PMA.’ In fact, his personal motto was, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve with PMA.”
Stone was also known for his kindness and philanthropy toward his fellow man. His book is credited with assisting another favorite of mine, Og Mandino, lift himself out of a life of alcoholism and despair into a life of prosperity. Stone later became a mentor to him, and he went on to become a best selling author in his own right and penned the ever popular, “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” among many others. Mandino then became a highly sought after motivational speaker.
The company Stone started, Combined Insurance Company, was worth over a billion dollars during his lifetime. Because of this great wealth he was able to make donations of over $275 million to various charities, civic groups, mental causes, and Christian organizations. He also gave very generous contributions to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He once was quoted as saying, “All I want to do is change the world.” W. Clement Stone had a long, meaningful, and productive life and lived to the age of 100.
We can all learn a lot from the lives and stories of inspiration these great people leave behind. Their books and words of wisdom are valuable treasures to read and reread and prosper from every time you pick one up. Stone once stated, “Regardless of what you are or what you have been, you can still become what you may want to be.” Definitely powerful words to live by.