How the Gingriches Define Success

Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:57pm

It’s graduation season, and for those not attending a ceremony — or even for those who are — former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has lifted his guiding principles for graduates out of old commencement speeches and put them into his new book.

A father-daughter project, Gingrich decided to write “5 Principles for a Successful Life— with his daughter Jackie Cushman, a human-interest columnist for the conservative Web site Townhall.com, after his grandchildren started to become curious about how their grandfather became one of the most famous figures in American politics.

“It was very important to me for Maggie and Robert to understand that it did not happen overnight,— said Cushman about explaining her father’s success to her children. “We thought, Why don’t we really do a book that’s not just for his grandchildren, but make a life book?’—

A “playbook for success,— which Cushman stresses “is about life, not about politics,— focuses on five principles — dream big, work hard, learn every day, enjoy life and be true to yourself.

“The number five is important,— the duo wrote in identifying their principles. “We don’t have to learn one hundred rules to live successfully, we simply have to learn five principles and live by them.—

With a long list of references and recommended reading, “5 Principles for a Successful Life— codifies the recommendations one might find in many other self-help books in an easy-to-read format. Plus, as Cushman pointed out, in a time of economic gloom, reading the tips that have helped at least one man succeed might not be such a bad idea.

“We didn’t time this with the economy being down, but right now people are disillusioned,— Cushman said. “Everybody needs to stop and see what success means to them.—

But perhaps what makes the book most interesting are the entries from a long list of successful people, which include figures as polar opposite as Bill Clinton and Rush Limbaugh along with stories from sport stars, media personalities and entrepreneurs.

While Cushman maintains that all the principles are critical to leading a successful and fulfilling life, she takes a hint from Shakespeare and ultimately believes the book’s final principle of keeping true to yourself is the most important in satisfying one’s life goals.

“It’s a book about how to live successfully,— Cushman said, emphasizing that the principles are to build not just a career but a personal life, too. “As my dad says, Who wants to live a terrible life?’—