Preparing for Success

On a snowy day in January, I wandered into a Borders bookstore and did something I always do when I’m seeking answers—I let synchronicity guide me to the right book. I found it, or rather it found me, and its message was exactly what I needed to hear at that time.

The book is Do Less, Achieve More by Chin-Ning Chu, and since then I’ve read it five or six times (it’s a fast read). Her message is that if you fight Life, constantly pushing and pressing for the things you want, you’ll have a much harder time achieving success than if you let go (surrender to forces greater than you) and allow your destiny to unfold naturally.

For those of you acquainted with works of Eastern philosophy like the Tao Te Ching, this idea of “going with the flow” is nothing new. However, Chu’s book has a number of unique ideas and anecdotes, and one of my favorites involves one of the few celebrities I would love to meet: Clint Eastwood.

In her book, Chu describes the idea of “preparing for success,” and the great Clint Eastwood figures prominently in the anecdote. Rather than paraphrasing, I’m simply going to give you the entire page where she discusses this concept. Here it is:


Before the Angel of Success arrives in your life, you should devote yourself to preparing your welcome for her. Polish your craft and strengthen your body to be fit so that you can do your job and enjoy success when it comes. Sharpen your mind and spirit so they are ready to face the challenges that accompany a visitation from the Angel of Success.

If you are not ready when the angel knocks, she will flee. And who knows when she will make it back around to your door again? One night in the 1960s, Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds were dining together. Clint has already become a famous movie star, but Burt was still struggling, trying to get bit parts. Burt asked Clint what he had done before he got his big break. Clint answered that he had simply “prepared myself for success.”

Those unadorned words, preparing for success, were the advice that was worth ten thousand ounces of gold to Burt Reynolds. He heard the words, understood the profound principle that they held, and went on to stardom.


Since I read that, over six months ago, I’ve been working diligently behind the scenes to prepare myself for success. I’ve beefed up this website. I’ve taken up golf. I’ve changed my diet and lost almost 20 pounds. I’ve started lifting weights again. I’ve bought myself a couple of tailored suits, including a fabulous Hickey Freeman number. I’ve organized my writing and my office (well, Alexas did). I’ve gotten my computers and typewriters in good working order. I’ve gotten an agent, who is getting my book read. I’ve been building a fan base. I’ve had a professional take author photos of me. And I’ve said yes to lucrative writing assignments, even though they aren’t directly relevant to my ideal career path as a novelist and screenwriter.


“I don’t believe in pessimism. If something doesn’t come up the way you want, forge ahead. If you think it’s going to rain, it will.” — Clint Eastwood


The one thing I haven’t done much of over the past six months is the very thing I should be doing with every breath in my body and that’s writing. Blog entries and journaling and emails and corporate writing notwithstanding, I’ve done next to nothing in the creative arena. Up to now, that is.

Inspiration has struck, and I’m prepared for success, so now I have no excuse for not writing.

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By Chris Orcutt

Writer — The Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, Short fiction, Plays — Editor & Speechwriter for Hire — Avid Golfer, Chess Player & Awesome Wood-Splitter — Twitter: @chrisorcutt

Comments (1)

  1. Orcutt December 22, 2008 at 7:08 am

    If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the recent addendum to this piece.