Learning from the Expert

2013-1015 Harvey MackayWhen I first heard of Harvey Mackay, I was attending graduate school. I couldn’t understand why the professors were so enamored with his books . . . until I read one. Harvey Mackay has written several best sellers that address topics such as sales, business, entrepreneurship, motivation, negotiation, leadership, communication, and many other important topics. During graduate school, I did not have much spare time to read for fun, but I carried one his books with me wherever I went and read a few pages when I could. Immediately after graduate school, I was busy with work and had even less time for leisure reading. I wanted to read more of his books, but I just could not find the time.

When I was diagnosed with cancer and brain injury, I had plenty of free time to read, but I had neither the motivation nor ability to read more than a few words at a time. Several years later, when I began reading short articles in the newspaper, my parents made sure I saw the articles written by Harvey Mackay. I don’t recall telling them I liked Mackay’s writings, but somehow parents instinctively know what to do. There were times when I could read only a few words or sentences before I had to nap. There were times when I spent more than three days to read just one of his short articles. I cannot claim that reading his articles or books cured my cancer, but I can say reading the information made my down time more enjoyable and hastened my recovery.

I did not write this post to tell you how to sell more, start a business, communicate, negotiate, or lead. I wrote this post to describe how the lessons taught by Mackay also pertain to recovery from brain injury and many other adversities. When I first thought about writing this post, I was planning to quote from several of Mackay’s books and articles. Then, as if he was reading my mind, he wrote an article titled “The 20 best ideas from 20 years of this column” in his syndicated column. I used excerpts from the list in his article to illustrate the connection between his business ideas and my recovery tips. In the interest of keeping this post short, I refer to only five of Mackay’s top 20 ideas.

According to the article written in Harvey Mackay’s syndicated column:

  • People become successful the minute they decide to be. A goal is a dream with a deadline.
  • Your day usually goes the way the corners of your mouth turn. The most powerful single thing you can do to influence others is to smile at them.
  • You will never get ahead of anyone as long as you are trying to get even with them. Helping someone up won’t pull you down.
  • The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
  • Failure is no more fatal than success is permanent. You don’t quit trying when you lose; you lose when you quit trying.

My interpretation of Mackay’s five ideas as they pertain to recovery from brain injury and other adversities:

  1. Recovery is possible the moment you decide it is possible.
  2. People are more likely to help you if you smile and thank them.
  3. No matter what your adversity, there are people who will appreciate your help.
  4. Recovery is a subjective target; never stop learning or improving.
  5. Never quit!

Your Turn

  • Who is your favorite author?
  • What message(s) from your favorite author help you when you face adversity?
  • What adversities have you encountered?
  • What are you doing to overcome your adversities?

Thanks to Chelle who shared the article upon which this post is based, Harvey Mackay for writing the article upon which this post is based, the Orange County Register for publishing Mackay’s syndicated column, and all the people who directly and indirectly made it possible for me to use the picture and syndicated column I used in this post.


    1. Gina, survivors and caregivers have many inspirational stories. I am very thankful that people feel comforable sharing their stories with me. Thank you for the input.

  1. I have never read a blog before but after receiving an invitation to read yours, I can now say I really enjoy them. I thought blogs were written by random people without any direction to their blog. However, yours are clearly thought-out and written very clearly. I may be inspired to start my own blog now! Thanks:)

    1. Sarah, I am much more versed in cancer, brain injury, adversity, and recovery than creating, hosting, customizing, and maintaining a blog, but if I can help in any way, please let me know. Thank you for sharing your comments.

  2. Scott, thank you so much for your postings…I always enjoy your insight…even though I don’t always comment…Thank you for your postings! Hugs-Trina Chambers-Bradlee

    1. Trina, thank you for the kind words. Everyone has a lot to handle on a daily basis. I appreciate your finding the time to share your comment. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for being such an active advocate after all you have been through. I enjoy reading what you post and I really wish more of our group was as active in posting, but I also take into consideration that just because they don’t post doesn’t mean that aren’t actively reading. Many don’t engage, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t involved. Becoming reclusive is such a sad side effect of brain injuries.

    1. Sharon, thank you for submitting such an important comment — silence is not necessarily a sign of disapproval or disagreement. Thank you.

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