A friend of mine recently mentioned three titles that rank at or near the top of his list of favorite books: 1. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, 2. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey, and 3. The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Og Mandino. Having read the first two, and finding them to contain much good and useful information, I concluded that the last might also contain something worth reading.
For readers who are unfamiliar with these three books, one thing that they each have in common is a strong emphasis on principles of self-improvement. As someone who has not attained perfection quite yet (shocking, I know), I find such principles not only appealing, but worth exploring (and especially worth applying.) Another theme common to these three books is that of success, particularly financial success. As to this last point, Dale Carnegie, Stephen R. Covey and Og Mandino were unquestionably three very successful men.
I admit that it has been quite some time since I last sampled the works of Carnegie or Covey, but Mandino's book struck me as unique in at least three different ways. First of all, Mandino's The Greatest Salesman in the World is much shorter than the other two. Second, The Greatest Salesman in the World is a work of historical fiction, set in first century Palestine, that takes it bearings from the birth, life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Third, Mandino's slim publication concludes with a symbolic denouement, and a surprise visit from an exceptional character. There are many other distinguishing features of Mandino's work, but these three differences strike me as particularly noteworthy.
In The Greatest Salesman in the World, and through three different characters, Mandino weaves a tale of ten secret scrolls that contain the wisdom of the ages. I won't dare tell you everything that is written on the ten scrolls, nor will I give away the surprise ending (which was by far my favorite part of the whole book), but I will record one important passage from the scrolls that resonates with me:
"And most of all, I will laugh at myself for man is most comical when he takes himself too seriously... Never will I allow myself to become so important, so wise, so dignified, so powerful, that I forget how to laugh at myself and my world. In this matter I will always remain as a child, for only as a child am I given the ability to look up to others; and so long as I look up to another I will never grow too long for my cot... Only with laughter and happiness can I truly become a success."