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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What you can do to become a success

"Men and women succeed because they take pains to succeed."

That is how Amelia E. Barr's first rule for success begins.

Her second rule includes this terrific insight:

One of the great secrets of success is "pegging away".

Barr's third rule echoes the voice of experience:

No opposition must be taken to heart.

The fourth rule begins thus:

A fatal mistake is to imagine that success is some stroke of luck.

At the end of the fifth rule, we learn how to adapt a well-known truism to suit our aims:

"Make the iron hot by striking it."

In the sixth rule, Barr gives us a truism of her own:

Mediocrity is always in a rush; but whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing with consideration.

In Barr's seventh rule, we learn of her distaste for "slatternly work":

I would distrust even the spiritual life of one whose methods and work were dirty, untidy, and without clearness and order.

The eighth rule offers writerly advice:

Literature is no accident. She is a mistress who demands the whole heart, the whole intellect, and the whole time of a devotee.

And the ninth, and last, rule lays emphasis on attitude. This is how it begins:

Don't fail through defects of temper and over-sensitiveness at moments of trial.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to know that Amelia E. Barr wrote down her rules for success in an essay for a book that was published more than a hundred years ago. I say it shouldn't come as a surprise because the formula for success, at least the sensible version offered above, doesn't have to change with time. What worked for Barr in the last century will work for you in this century.

To know more about Amelia E. Barr and to read up on the details of her rules for success (and also to glean other secrets of success), visit this post by my favourite blogger, Maria Popova: "9 Rules for Success by British Novelist Amelia E. Barr, 1901".