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5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours Hardcover – May 12, 2009
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About the Author
NEWT GINGRICH is best known as the chief architect of the Contract with America. A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, he has published eighteen books, including the bestsellers Real Change and Rediscovering God in America, and most recently, Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less. Newt lives in Virginia with his wife, Callista. The Gingrich family includes two daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren. Visit www.newt.org.
JACKIE GINGRICH CUSHMAN writes a weekly human-interest column for Townhall.com. Her nonprofit activities include serving on the Georgia Advisory Council: The Trust for Public Land and as president of the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation, which she founded in 2006. Jackie and Jimmy Cushman Jr. live with their two children in Atlanta. Visit www.jackiecushman.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Why 5 Principles?
The number five is important. The idea that any one
of us–or our children or grandchildren–can learn
a finite number of things is important. We don’t have to
learn one hundred rules to live successfully, we simply
have to learn five principles and live by them.
Success. We hear the word often, but what is the definition
of success? If you ask five people to define success,
you will get five different definitions. Many people strive
for material success–large homes, expensive cars, and
designer wardrobes. Others look to recognition, celebrity,
or societal impact as a marker. Some view success
from a much more personal perspective: being a good
mother, father, brother, sister, or daughter.
Since this book is focused on helping you achieve success,
you might wonder how we define it. We focus on
the long-term effects of our actions. For example, are we
making the world a better place for our children and
grandchildren? To us, success means adding value to
people’s lives and making a difference in the world
Each of us has to determine for ourselves how to define
success in life. Americans tend to focus on achieving
success, but we often forget to focus on what creates
success. Success does not happen overnight, and it does
not happen easily. But we believe that everyone can find a
way to be successful. The outcome is simply a result of
an ongoing process–learning to live successfully.
Together our family has found that by following five
principles, anyone can improve his or her life and create
success: Dream Big, Work Hard, Learn Every Day,
Enjoy Life, and Be True to Yourself. We began brainstorming
on writing a book about these ideas a few years
ago, when Jackie’s children, Maggie and Robert, began
to ask questions. Questions about how their grandpa became
Speaker of the House. We thought it might be best
for them to understand the process and how it happened
over time–not overnight. Our goal is for Maggie and
Robert and you to understand that success is a process
that involves a lifetime of learning about how to succeed.
While these principles might appear to be simplistic
and easy, mastering them requires diligence and
perseverance. The application of any one of them might
result in progress, but the integration of all five can lead
to stellar results. Believe us; we know that sometimes
it’s challenging to live by your principles. Do not deceive
yourself; there will be occasions when you will fall short.
But in the end, it’s about picking yourself up and moving
back to the path that you want to follow. If you focus first
on these principles and your values, you’ll always make
the right decision and follow the right path.
Both of us have tried to follow these five principles
throughout our lives.
We know they can have a positive impact on anyone
willing to learn them and live them, and we want to
share them with you.
In this book, we hope to provide you with a playbook
for success. Not a guarantee, but a path to follow that
will improve your odds. We have included quotes from
many people who are successful in a variety of areas.
These individuals provide real-life examples of how they
achieved success by following these five simple principles.
Our dream is that this book will inspire and encourage
you to pursue your happiness and that you will
enjoy it once you find it.
Newt & Jackie
Principle : 1
If you can dream it, you can do it.
As a young man, I planned on becoming a zoo director
or a vertebrate paleontologist. Yet during one special
weekend as a teenager, I learned a powerful lesson
that sparked my dream of entering public office and becoming
a leader of our nation.
It was 1958, I was fifteen years old, and we were living
in Orléans, France. My father was a career soldier–
an infantryman. He served his country in World War II,
Korea, and Vietnam. He understood that freedom is not
free. During our time in France, my father took me to
Verdun. That battlefield had been the largest and bloodiest
on the western front in World War I. While there,
we stayed with a friend of my father’s who had been
drafted in World War II and sent to the Philippines, survived
the Bataan Death March in 1942, and went on to
spend three and a half years in a Japanese prison camp
during World War II. During that weekend, between
talking to my father’s friend and learning about Verdun,
I was immersed in stories of the human sacrifices that
were made for freedom throughout both world wars.
I learned that the freedoms we now enjoy and take for
granted were paid for in blood. This truth became very
real tome during those three days at Verdun.
The lesson from history is that it is possible for bad
leadership to result in the collapse of seemingly invulnerable
societies. I was shaken by the realization that
countries can disappear with remarkable speed when societies
and their cultural values collide.
As an American, I believe everything we hold dear–
our freedom, our prosperity, and our safety–is very fragile.
During that summer at Verdun, my father taught me
that we desperately need leaders who look beyond the
present, who understand the seriousness of the threats
we face, and who are willing to commit themselves to
finding solutions worthy of our challenges.
The ultimate fate of any free society rests with our
elected political leadership, and I decided it was my duty
to become one of those leaders. This became my goal,
my mission, my dream. That lesson from Verdun never
left me, and it was the reason I ran for office. I ran for
Congress twice unsuccessfully, but I never gave up on
my aspiration to serve the public because I remembered
those who never gave up defending freedom with their
lives. After two defeats I won election and achieved my
dream of becoming a leader for America.
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BOOK REVIEW: Newt Gingrich and His Daughter Assemble Comments from Liberals, Conservatives from Many Professions in '5 Principles for a Successful Life'
By David M. Kinchen
You wouldn't expect to find advice for a successful life from Rush Limbaugh and Bill Clinton in the same book, but former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and his daughter Jackie Gingrich Cushman have managed to do just that in "5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours" (Crown Forum, $22.00, 224 pages.)
Other advice givers include Mary Matalin and her husband James Carville, strategists on the right and left sides of the political spectrum, respectively; NBC newsman and best-selling author Tom Brokaw; Gen. David Petraeus; radio host and son of the Great Communicator Michael Reagan; Tucker Carlson; Whoopi Goldberg and dozens of others. The book is heavy with advice from past and present military officers, including Lt. Col. Oliver North, Gen. Peter Pace and Gen. John P. Abizaid.
Bill Clinton writes about the importance of gratitude in helping him achieve his goals: "I was born into a family without wealth or powerful connections," he writes. "But from my mother and other relatives, I was given a more powerful gift: the belief that I could do anything in life with big dreams, hard work, and a genuine interest in and respect for other people."
Whoopi Goldberg takes a line from Shakespeare, who did a bit of acting in his time: "To thine own self be true" to explain her success: "I live by 'Be true to yourself' because who else can you really be true to? Each decision you make moves you a little further in life. Sometimes, if you are true to other people's principles, they move you back. And if you adhere to someone else's principles you may move forward, but somehow you're not as steady, you're not as clear, you're not as strong."
Here are the five principles:
1. Dream Big, like Walt Disney, who didn't let failure and naysayers stop him from achieving his dreams...or like Jackie Gingrich Cushman's sister, Kathy, who didn't let a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis stop her from completing a walking marathon and raising money to help cure the disease.
2. Work Hard, like Newt Gingrich himself, as his daughter remembers. Working hard, she says, can be a surprising source of energy. Another example in the book is John "Jack" Horner, a man who was a technical adviser on the "Jurassic Park" movies and from his early boyhood "wanted more than anything to be a dinosaur paleontologist when I grew up."
3. Learn Every Day. The key is to remember that learning is a reciprocal process. Newt Gingrich was interested in everything. Luckily, he had a family that encouraged him to learn constantly. "My grandmother, Ethel Daugherty has been a schoolteacher, and she taught me to read before I went to school. She said over and over 'You can learn anywhere, from anyone. Keep your eyes and ears open.'"
4. Enjoy Life. The authors draw from ancient philosophers like Aristotle, who said "Happiness depends upon ourselves" and modern scientific studies to show that successful people work hard to achieve their dreams and complement that hard work with a capacity to "really enjoy the journey you're on." Rush Limbaugh advises "There should be no guilt in the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of life."
5. Be True to Yourself. After he left the speakership in 1999, Newt Gingrich reassessed his life and career, after 26 years of running for office and serving in Congress, he was faced "with the daunting challenge of thinking through a new career." He set out to determine what he would not do, become a lobbyist, take a job with one firm which would monopolize his life, etc. He began by studying science, fulfilling his passion for learning.
I'm not a big fan of self-help books, but the diversity of the contributors and the the essential soundness of their advice -- combined with the words and writing structure of the father-daughter author team -- convinced me that this is a book everyone can enjoy and learn from. I was especially taken with the section on Walt Disney, quoting from a 2006 book I had read and reviewed, Neal Gabler's "Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination." If one person had to be chosen to symbolize success in America, it would be difficult to find one more intriguing than Walt Disney. Gabler's book is quoted and listed in an excellent reading list at the end of the book.
If you travel a lot, pack this book along with your laptop, iPhone, BlackBerry, etc. It's worth reading and re-reading.
Publisher's web site: [...]
These co-authors tell of successes in a dynamic way and organize brilliantly the various contributor's stories so as to demonstrate the commonality in work ethic and basic attitudes of each despite their divergent backgrounds. (The 42 or so contributors include comedians, politicians, reporters, pilots and other successful business people. Interestingly, several contributors are politically liberal -- including Bill Clinton). All the contributors give insight as to how they applied the various principles on their own respective roads to success.
In short, the book is unique, topical, and took only a few hours to read. Best of all, I think it will inspire you to pursue or recommit to your own personal success path and dreams. It is a must read for anyone who dares to dream big!