I wanted to be a Teacher with a big T: teach the whole planet. It led me into writing and speaking to large groups.

People who ask confidently get more than those who are hesitant and uncertain. When you've figured out what you want to ask for, do it with certainty, boldness and confidence.

Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.

I worked from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. every night for a year to write the first 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' book.

Switching from one career to another can be scary, but it also can be a thrilling experience. Look at it as an opportunity to really go after what you want to accomplish in life and make a difference in the world. The key is to take small, conscious steps and prepare yourself for a successful transition.

One of life's fundamental truths states, 'Ask and you shall receive.' As kids we get used to asking for things, but somehow we lose this ability in adulthood. We come up with all sorts of excuses and reasons to avoid any possibility of criticism or rejection.

If you go to a tree with an ax and take five whacks at the tree every day, it doesn't matter if it's an oak or a redwood; eventually the tree has to fall down.

Don't worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try.

People who ask confidently get more than those who are hesitant and uncertain. When you've figured out what you want to ask for, do it with certainty, boldness and confidence. Don't be shy or feel intimidated by the experience. You may face some unexpected criticism, but be prepared for it with confidence.

Words, especially when yelled in anger, can be very damaging to a child's self-confidence. The child probably already feels bad enough just from seeing the consequences of his or her behavior. Our sons and daughters don't need more guilt and self-doubt heaped upon their already wounded egos.

I have lived by one crucial principle since I was 24 years old. I don't blame or complain about things like the economy, the government, taxes, employees, gas prices, or any of the external things that I don't have control over. The only thing I have control over is my response to these things.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

Working with people from all walks of life, from full-time moms to CEOs at large companies, I've distilled many universal truths about success. There's a secret I've learned that works quite well at helping you to achieve what you want: Decide what you want.

An important part of any focusing regimen is to set aside time at the end of the day - just before going to sleep - to acknowledge your successes, review your goals, focus on your successful future, and make specific plans for what you want to accomplish the next day.

When your dreams include service to others - accomplishing something that contributes to others - it also accelerates the accomplishment of that goal. People want to be part of something that contributes and makes a difference.

The Law of Attraction states that whatever you focus on, think about, read about, and talk about intensely, you're going to attract more of into your life.

I believe in unconditional love and equality. Jesus Christ exemplified these qualities.

I generally find that comparison is the fast track to unhappiness. No one ever compares themselves to someone else and comes out even. Nine times out of ten, we compare ourselves to people who are somehow better than us and end up feeling more inadequate.

It is a universal principle that you get more of what you think about, talk about, and feel strongly about.

Living each day as if it were your last doesn't mean your last day of retirement on a remote island. It means to live fully, authentically and spontaneously with nothing being held back.

If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily.

Self-esteem is made up primarily of two things: feeling lovable and feeling capable. Lovable means I feel people want to be with me. They invite me to parties; they affirm I have the qualities necessary to be included. Feeling capable is knowing that I can produce a result. It's knowing I can handle anything that life hands me.

I believe that people make their own luck by great preparation and good strategy.

Know your priorities and identify the five powerful action steps that you intend to take to move your initiatives forward each day. If you go to a tree with an ax and take five whacks at the tree every day, it doesn't matter if it's an oak or a redwood; eventually, the tree has to fall down.

For me, my core genius lies in the area of teaching and motivating. I love to do it, I do it well, and people report that they get great value from it. Another core genius is compiling and writing books. Along with my co-author Mark Victor Hansen and others, I have written, co-authored, compiled and edited more than 200 books.

Let's remember that our children's spirits are more important than any material things. When we do, self-esteem and love blossoms and grows more beautifully than any bed of flowers ever could.

In working with top leaders and thought philosophers of our time, I will tell you that among their secrets of success is a regular practice of acknowledging and appreciating what they have. It can offer an oracle into the future because it not only tells you where you are, but it also helps clarify where you want to go in life.

I believe people should live full lives and not settle for anything less.

If you are not moving closer to what you want, you probably aren't doing enough asking. And you're probably not asking the single most important question that can help you achieve a higher level of success and personal fulfillment: How am I doing?

Decide what you want, believe you can have it, believe you deserve it and believe it's possible for you.

You can't heal what you don't acknowledge.

In order to get what you want, you must first decide what you want. Most people really foul up at this crucial first step because they simply can't see how it's possible to get what they want, so they don't even let themselves want it.

Greater self-esteem produces greater success, and greater success produces more high self-esteem, so it keeps on spiraling up.

For every reason it's not possible, there are hundreds of people who have faced the same circumstances and succeeded.

Trust your gut feeling about things, listen to what others are saying, and look at the results of your actions. Once you know the truth, you can set about taking action to improve. Everyone will be better for it.

Acknowledging your mistakes also has its pluses, but we often don't have trouble recalling or mulling over those. The point is, if you don't acknowledge your successes the same way you acknowledge your mistakes, you're sure to have a memory full of blunders.

One individual can begin a movement that turns the tide of history. Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement, Mohandas Ganhi in India, Nelson Mandela in South Africa are examples of people standing up with courage and non-violence to bring about needed changes.

In one of my recent books, 'The Success Principles,' I taught 64 lessons that help people achieve what they want out of life. From taking nothing less than 100 percent responsibility for your life to empowering others, these are the fundamentals to success - and to great leadership.

I started out as a high school teacher in inner-city Chicago and realized quite quickly that my students weren't that motivated.

I used to define success as being able to produce any result you wanted, whether it was a relationship, weight-loss, being a millionaire, impacting the culture, changing society, whatever it might be - it might be homelessness, whatever - and lately, I've redefined success as 'fulfilling your soul's purpose.'

Leaders cannot work in a vacuum. They may take on larger, seemingly more important roles in an organization, but this does not exclude them from asking for and using feedback. In fact, a leader arguably needs feedback more so than anyone else. It's what helps a leader respond appropriately to events in pursuit of successful outcomes.

When you scratch the surface, every one of us has something that we deeply want to contribute to the world. All we have to do is step up and do it.

There have been many people whom I have admired, emulated and even modeled parts of my life after. I study how they do things, and then I go through a period of 'trying on' those same thinking patterns and behaviors. After awhile, what is not essentially me falls away while the useful parts remain.

No one becomes an expert in a new career overnight, even if you are coming from another career where you were established and experienced.

'The Chicken Soup for the Soul' books are the result of over 20 years of teaching seminars and giving speeches. The first book contains all of the stories that I used in my seminars to illustrate the points that I wanted to make.

When I realized I wanted to do more writing and less traveling around the world teaching live seminars, I decided to write the first 'Chicken Soup for the Soul(R)' book. I knew I wanted to have 100 stories in the book, so I wrote or edited two stories a week for a year.

It's not an accident that musicians become musicians and engineers become engineers: it's what they're born to do. If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily.

Build your self-esteem by recalling all the ways you have succeeded, and your brain will be filled with images of you making your achievements happen again and again. Give yourself permission to toot your own horn, and don't wait for anyone to praise you.

The longer you hang in there, the greater the chance that something will happen in your favor. No matter how hard it seems, the longer you persist, the more likely your success.