Genre: Christian Business & Professional Worth
Author: Og Mandino
Title: The Greatest Salesman (Buy the Book)
Often, there are people we look up to and we wonder how we could ever live up to their achievements. However, Og Mandino fully believes that anyone, no matter where they come from, is capable of rising as far as they desire to go.
The Greatest Salesman in the World presents a series of principles, laws, and fundamental truths in such a way that they are easily understood and able to be implemented into daily life. Mandino uses a simple story of a boy with the most unlikely of circumstances to explain the importance and effect of nine simple concepts.
The story presents these concepts through a series of ancient scrolls that are to be learned in a precise order and in a specific amount of time. The scrolls are as follows:
- Scroll 1: How to Learn
- Scroll 2: The Power of Love
- Scroll 3: Persistence
- Scroll 4: Confidence
- Scroll 5: Be Fully Engaged
- Scroll 6: Master of Emotions
- Scroll 7: Laughter
- Scroll 8: Multiply Value
- Scroll 9: Action-Oriented
- Scroll 10: Pray for Guidance
Once these lessons are made into habits, no obstacle will be insurmountable and both professional and personal rewards will abound.
This method guarantees that no easy roads or shortcuts lie ahead, but it does promise to transform anyone who follows these concepts into a person capable of achieving whatever he or she desires. No mountain will be too high and no river will be too wide for the person who masters all of these traits.
“Failure is man’s inability to reach his goals in life, whatever they may be. In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits. Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure. Thus, the first law I will obey, which precedeth all others is—I will form good habits and become their slave.”(54)
Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World tells the story of an aging salesman recounting a series of scrolls of ancient wisdom that transformed him from a simple camel boy to the greatest salesman in the entire world.
While the book is written to a salesman, each lesson is of incredible value to anyone who will take heed.
Each scroll refers to seemingly elementary messages; the radical difference lies in the implementation of the messages into habits.
Mandino asserts that only once the wisdom of these scrolls become subconscious habits, will they be able to affect the way our lives unfold. Simply hearing, reading, or knowing these items will never be enough, and The Greatest Salesman in the World presents them in a fashion and context that is perfectly clear, impossible to forget, and ripe for becoming part of our personality.
The Greatest Salesman in the World revolves around a man named Hafid who lived in Damascus around the time of Jesus and was regarded by many as the greatest salesman to ever live.
As he neared the end of his life, he had amassed a fortune of such size that most could not comprehend, even though he had given half of his profits to the poor every single year. The story is based around Hafid’s recollection to his bookkeeper, Erasmus, beginning with his start as a camel boy for a wealthy salesman, Pathros.
As a boy, Hafid had plenty of work and was well provided for, however, he sought more out of life.
He wanted to achieve the level of greatness that Pathros had done and wanted to do so as a salesman. After much warning of the difficulties laying ahead, Pathros finally grants Hafid’s wish to attempt life as a salesman. While Hafid struggles greatly, Pathros soon realizes that he had waited his entire life for this boy.
Many years before Pathros had been entrusted with a series of ten scrolls of great wisdom and instructed to pass them on to a worthy successor.
Unfortunately, Pathros falls ill such that he is barely able to tell Hafid about the scrolls.
On his deathbed, Pathros discharges Hafid to Damascus to study each scroll as prescribed and gives Hafid enough gold to buy his first set of inventory. Upon reaching Damascus, Hafid spends the next several months learning the wisdom of the scrolls and begins his career as a salesman.
“All but one of these scrolls contain a principle, a law, or a fundamental truth written in a unique style to help the reader understand its meaning.”
Each of the ten scrolls contains an extremely valuable lesson, and while the first scroll exists as instructions on how to learn the rest, it is undeniably full of great wisdom as well.
Further, the language used in each scroll is intended to be read word for word by anyone aspiring to learn each lesson, and as such, each description includes particularly impactful quotes.
Scroll 1: How to Learn
In the first of the ancient scrolls in the story, the reader is taught the proper way to learn the lessons that will follow. For these lessons to have any effect, the reader must have the knowledge so ingrained that it becomes part of who he is as a person.
It is important to learn each lesson in succession and only after such time that the words of the scroll have become subconscious habits. The necessary process is really quite simple but requires a significant commitment.
The scrolls are each to be read three times per day for 30 days.
The scroll should be read to oneself silently upon waking, again after eating lunch, and aloud at the end of the day. Only once a scroll has been read in this manner for 30 full days is the reader to move on to the next scroll. While the process may seem a bit excessive, it would be similarly foolish to expect the kind of results promised without such a significant effort.
The first scroll begins with the following:
“Today I begin a new life. Today I shed my old skin which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure and the wounds of mediocrity.”
The transformation promised is not intended to help overcome an ordinary obstacle, the lessons are intended to cause an internal paradigm shift such that the reader will forever be changed in the way in which he interacts with the world. He continues to explain the significant manner in which the reader’s life should be changed:
“Failure no longer will be my payment for struggle. Just as nature made no provision for my body to tolerate pain neither has it made any provision to tolerate failure. Failure, like pain, is alien to my life.”
This quote captures the essence of these scrolls.
Old habits have led to failure and must be replaced with habits that will lead to success.
While it might seem most sensible to focus on habits that should be eradicated, that would only leave a void, which could be filled by other inferior habits. Thus, the scrolls are intended to put in place habits that leave no room for failure.A key instruction of the first scroll is that these lessons should not just be learned, but instead, become active habits. There is a stark difference in knowing of a good thing to do and habitual repetition of it. Once something is habit, there is no need to pull it from the deepest corners of the brain and struggle to use it in normal conversation.
Therefore, we must seek to replace whatever habits we have that do not aid our goals with the following nine habits.
Scroll 2:The Power of Love
The second of the ten scrolls presents the first and most important lesson to be learned.
All of our actions, even all of our thoughts, must come from love.
We must be so rooted in a loving mindset that every action and reaction comes from a place of love. The scroll explains that many things will come against us every day of our life, but love works as a “shield” to protect us from harm. Further, a person habitually acting in love is served in so many other ways. Loving others will open up doors that skill and prowess could never dream of.
Mandino does not underestimate how difficult it will be to constantly love those around us; rather, he points out that it is the reason why love is so important. Its effect is so great because so many are not able to manifest it.
It is unreasonable to think that anyone can make a sudden decision to live the rest of their life always acting out of love.
Rather, it must become a habit, and by repeating these words a minimum of 90 times over the course of a month, they will become part of an instinctive thought process.
This scroll further declares that someone whose actions are truly rooted in love lacks the time to act out of hate.
We have only a limited amount of time each day with which we can act and an even smaller amount of time to interact with the people around us. There may be many things that happen in a day, spending time acting in any way that is not from a position of love is wasteful.
While it might fuel our own egos to seek revenge, it ultimately delays our pursuits. Thus, all actions should be rooted in love for mankind; these are the actions from which we are to find success.
“I will greet this day with love in my heart. For this is the greatest secret of success in all ventures. Muscle can split a shield and even destroy life but only the unseen power of love can open the hearts of men and until I master this art I will remain no more than a peddler in the market place. I will make love my greatest weapon and none on whom I call can defend against its force. My reasoning they may counter; my speech they may distrust; my apparel they may disapprove; my face they may reject; and even my bargains may cause them suspicion; yet my love will melt all hearts liken to the sun whose rays soften the coldest clay.”
“And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and I will be born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.”
Scroll 3: Persistence
The third scroll begins its narrative describing how the bravery of bulls is tested.
The bull is incited to attack and then pricked with a lance before it is able to hit its target. This process continues until the bull can no longer charge, at which time a rating is given based on the number of charges. The bull is tested to see how many times it will strive for its goal, knowing great pain lies in the way.
The next habit to be acquired is persistence similar to that of the bravest of bulls, for only great persistence will carry anyone past the numerous challenges that stand between them and success. Some challenges will be simple ant hills, but others will be mountains that cannot be overcome without many days of labor.
Nonetheless, we are never to accept failure and must always push forward.
“Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I will persist until I succeed.”
“I will be liken to the rain drop which washes away the mountain; the ant who devours a tiger; the star which brightens the earth; the slave who builds a pyramid. I will build my castle one brick at a time for I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.”
Scroll 4: Confidence
Mandino’s fourth lesson to a salesman teaches the theme of confidence.
For many people, great confidence does not come natural, but it is necessary in order to endure the many tribulations that will be encountered in every relentless pursuit of success.
Mandino states that we must recognize our uniqueness, the value in it, and that in all the history of mankind there has never been anyone exactly like us. Though paths may be uncharted, unyielding persistence and ferocious confidence will lead to great success.
Mandino describes this passion as a flame that burns from within.
“Since the beginning of time never has there been another with my mind, my heart, my eyes, my ears, my hands, my hair, my mouth. None that came before, none that live today, and none that come tomorrow can walk and talk and move and think exactly like me. All men are my brothers yet I am different from each. I am a unique creature. I am nature’s greatest miracle.”
“Within me burns a flame which has been passed from generations uncounted and its heat is a constant irritation to my spirit to become better than I am, and I will. I will fan this flame of dissatisfaction and proclaim my uniqueness to the world.”
Scroll 5: Be Fully Engaged
The first four lessons taught tangible qualities that become ingrained in one’s character; the fifth however, serves to revolutionize the thought process.
The fifth lesson teaches the value of time.
We must always live as if each day will be our last, and as such, we must not reminisce on yesterday or fret over what will come tomorrow. We must stay totally focused on what is before us and what is in our ability to control.
Only by making the absolute best of what is presently under our control can we hope to alleviate the pains of yesterday or the fears of tomorrow. We must savor the precious moments we are given rather than waste them, longing to relive a time passed or dreaming of the future.
This scroll specifically calls out the dismantling effects of procrastination, doubt, and fear, and explains exactly how to overcome them. We must face them directly and charge through them as a bull through a blade.
“And what shall I do with this last precious day which remains in my keeping? First, I will seal up its container of life so that not one drop spills itself upon the sand. I will waste not a moment mourning yesterday’s misfortunes, yesterday’s defeats, yesterday’s aches of the heart, for why should I throw good after bad? Can sand flow upward in the hour glass? Will the sun rise where it sets and set where it rises? Can I relive the errors of yesterday and right them? Can I call back yesterday’s wounds and make them whole? Can I become younger than yesterday? Can I take back the evil that was spoken, the blows that were struck, the pain that was caused? No. Yesterday is buried forever and I will think of it no more. I will live this day as if it is my last.”
“I will avoid with fury the killers of time. Procrastination I will destroy with action; doubt I will bury under faith; fear I will dismember with confidence.”
Scroll 6: Master of Emotions
One of the most crippling setbacks to any person who seeks greatness is a lack of ability to control his emotions. To have any chance at charging into adverse situations and coming through successful, one must be able to hold in check how the situation affects them. Otherwise, he will be at the whims of whomever he seeks to do business with.
The difficulty in achieving this lesson is only surpassed by its importance.
In order for a salesman to succeed, he cannot simply feed off of whatever emotion customers emit.
Instead, they must be the source of such great positivity and joy that the customer will seek to do business with them. Further, by understanding our own emotions, we come to realize the fuller meaning of the emotions of those around us.
“Each day, when I awaken, I will follow this plan of battle before I am captured by the forces of sadness, self-pity and failure— If I feel depressed I will sing. If I feel sad I will laugh. If I feel ill I will double my labor. If I feel fear I will plunge ahead. If I feel inferior I will wear new garments. If I feel uncertain I will raise my voice. If I feel poverty I will think of wealth to come. If I feel incompetent I will remember past success. If I feel insignificant I will remember my goals. Today I will be master of my emotions.”
“No longer will I judge a man on one meeting; no longer will I fail to call again tomorrow on he who meets me with late today. This day he will not buy gold chariots for a penny, yet tomorrow he would exchange his home for a tree. My knowledge of this secret will be my key to great wealth.”
Scroll 7: Laughter
The first six scrolls give lessons that are designed to promote working both harder and better.
The seventh scroll, however, teaches the importance of laughter.
Laughter brings balance, especially to a life that adheres to all of the previous principles.
Being able to laugh, most importantly at ourselves, maintains our humility and connection with those around us. Further, laughter can sustain our spirit and remind us that our failures are not so permanent.
Lastly, when facing such adversity that it seems joy is not to be found, we are to remember the phrase: “This too shall pass.” We must remember that everything is temporary, both good and bad alike.
“Never will I allow myself to become so important, so wise, so dignified, so powerful, that I forget how to laugh at myself and my world. In this matter I will always remain as a child, for only as a child am I given the ability to look up to others; and so long as I look up to another I will never grow too long for my cot.”
“And with my laughter all things will be reduced to their proper size. I will laugh at my failures and they will vanish in clouds of new dreams: I will laugh at my successes and they will shrink to their true value. I will laugh at evil and it will die untasted; I will laugh at goodness and it will thrive and abound.”
Scroll 8: Multiply Value
Scroll eight teaches that we should make a habit of increasing our value.
It is a habit of seeking to make ourselves better each and every day. Specifically, the scroll states that we should attempt to increase our own intrinsic value a hundredfold each day.
While this goal may seem tactically drastic, when we consider what man is able to do to inanimate materials in a day, should we not be able to cause more change within ourselves?
The best way to start this endeavor is to simply do better than yesterday and achieve whatever necessary to continue moving forward. The eighth scroll teaches that it must be ingrained in our nature to never take a step backward, and that even so much as stagnation should be considered a failure.
Though this feat does not pretend to be easy, it is simple.
All that is necessary is taking one more step than yesterday allowed. If we can find some level of improvement every single day, however small of an amount, then we will eventually reach our goal. Further, we should not limit the improvements we are seeking by what we think is enough; rather, we should make a lifestyle of self-improvement without enforcing a ceiling.
Further, the eighth scroll is of significance because it addresses what our performance benchmark should be. We should not seek to outdo peers because that steals time away from our own possibilities. Rather, we should seek to constantly improve upon the abilities that we have. Thus, benchmarks should be set based on our own performances.
“Today I will surpass every action which I performed yesterday. I will climb today’s mountain to the utmost of my ability yet tomorrow I will climb higher than today, and the next will be higher than tomorrow. To surpass the deeds of others is unimportant; to surpass my own deeds is all.”(91)
“I will commit not the terrible crime of aiming too low. I will do the work that a failure will not do. I will always let my reach exceed my grasp. I will never be content with my performance in the market. I will always raise my goals as soon as they are attained. I will always strive to make the next hour better than this one.”
Scroll 9: Action-Oriented
The ninth scroll teaches the importance of action.
Specifically stating that the first eight lessons will be for naught if we do not act with great haste. We can be full of tremendous habits, but if we chose not to act, then it is impossible to achieve anything. We must fight against procrastination, hesitation, and anything else that sets against our action otherwise we risk seeing our dreams vanish.
This lesson is crucial because acting quickly enables us to outpace the competition. When others decide to wait even one more hour, we advance that much further ahead.
By gaining only an hour, time and time again, the competition will eventually fall so far behind that they can never catch up. Acting promptly allows us to spend more time bettering ourselves and laughing with those we love – it shows how much we value the time we are given.
Mandino truly believes that someone who has taken to heart the lessons of these scrolls can accomplish anything, but nothing will happen if we do not actively seek to make it happen.
“I will act now. I will act now. I will act now. Henceforth, I will repeat these words again and again and again, each hour, each day, every day, until the words become as much a habit as my breathing and the actions which follow become as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every act necessary for my success. With these words I can condition my mind to meet every challenge which the failure avoids.”
“Success will not wait. If I delay she will become betrothed to another and lost to me forever. This is the time. This is the place. I am the man. I will act now.”
Scroll 10: Pray for Guidance
The tenth lesson is unique in that it regards how we should seek help.
The easy choice is asking for what we want, be that “gold, love, good health, petty victories, fame, success, or happiness.” These things represent the end of our journey and we would not truly appreciate what they are if they were simply given to us.
The only help that should be asked for is guidance.
No matter how loving, persistent, confident, engaged, emotionally controlled, joyous, diligent, or action-oriented we are, there will be times when we do not know what direction our next step should take.
The ensuing confusion will create times in which we wish to take the easy road to the end of the journey; however, that must never be the road we choose. We must never look to be given what we seek, we must only look for guidance, be it from God, mentors, friends, or whoever else will hear our story and offer their counsel.
This scroll embraces all of the previous lessons in that it intends to use every skill that has been acquired.
When we ask for material items, we demand to skip the journey that we have worked so hard to prepare for; asking for guidance however, allows us to employ every ability that we have gained throughout our lives.
“Henceforth I will pray, but my cries for help will only be cries for guidance. Never will I pray for the material things of the world. I am not calling to a servant to bring me food. I am not ordering an innkeeper to provide me with room.”
“I ask not for gold or garments or even opportunities equal to my ability; instead, guide me so that I may acquire ability equal to my opportunities.”(100)
As Hafid is nearing the end of his life, he has reached every pinnacle of success he could imagine. He has not only amassed great wealth for himself, but has also remained a very noble person.
His last wish as a business person is to sell everything he owns and give it away.
He gave enough to those working for him to continue on in prosperity, with the remaining being distributed among the poor. In one of his last days, a traveler comes to him from afar upon instruction from God.
The traveler was told to find the greatest salesman that has ever lived and learn from him how to better spread the message of Christ.
The traveler is the Apostle Paul, who would go on to use these principles to touch the lives of billions of people for thousands of years.
To be successful, we must continue to build ourselves up long after these lessons have become our deepest habits.
The words contained in these scrolls do not teach everything that is needed along life’s journey; however, they set an incredible foundation to be built upon. It may seem that the intent of these habits is primarily to aid professional aspirations, however, our personal lives and connections with others will grow abundantly as we personify these lessons.
These habits are meant to empower us to break the obstacles that come against all walks of life. They ensure that we are capable of reaching the goals we set.
Life guarantees that we will encounter many setbacks and that the paths leading to failure will be far more numerous than those leading to success; however, the lessons contained within The Greatest Salesman in the World can empower anyone to conquer all of the desires within his heart.
Britt always taught us Titans that Wisdom is Cheap, and principal can find treasure troves of the good stuff in books. We hope only will also express their thanks to the Titans if the book review brought wisdom into their lives.