The author C.S. Lewis, best known for his timeless classic The Chronicles of Narnia, wrote a remarkable little satire in 1942 called The Screwtape Letters (great name huh?). The book is formed by a series of letters from high-ranking demon named Screwtape, to his young nephew Wormwood, a junior demon, about how to properly and successfully tempt the “Patient” (human beings in this case).
Despite what seems like a rather dark undertone (after all it’s demons we’re talking about here), Lewis spurs great heights of humor with each page, and presents some incredibly enduring and poignant insights about human life.
In one of the latter letters, Screwtape describes to Wormwood the inner workings of man very interestingly. Says Screwtape: “Think of your man as a series of concentric circles, his will being the innermost, his intellect coming next, and finally his fantasy….(what) you must (do) is keep on shoving all the virtues outward, till they are finally located in the circle of fantasy.”
Will. Intellect. Fantasy.
I should say it’s not my intention now, nor in the future, to lecture about what is or isn’t virtuous. That is obviously and absolutely not my place.
However, I do think this passage spotlights an important point for entrepreneurs, or anyone for that matter, which is: whatever we want to achieve, whether that’s a more virtuous existence, business or individual goals, the PURSUIT MUST BEGIN INTERNALLY, WITH OUR WILL.
- Will: We already know we are more likely to achieve something we are passionate about. We have a different level of energy and motivation. We CARE more. This is the station we should be pulling our 18 wheelers full of goals into for fueling. This is where our goals become habits.
- Intellect: Almost inevitably, when we are confronted with a situation that is difficult, frightening or uncomfortable, we begin to over-analyze the issue. We intellectualize the situation into the ground and only end up sort of mentally chasing our own tail into exhaustion. Now, this is not to say our intellect isn’t a big part of our problem solving strategy, because it is. But…we have to know when call on our intuition and trust ourselves for that last bit of guidance.
- Fantasy: The final frontier. We all know too many people who perpetually live in this space. This place is littered with sentences that begin with stuff like: “I hope to one day-“…” It would be nice if-“… “If only I could (blank)”… The challenge for entrepreneurs is to keep our goals out of this realm. This is a realm of INACTION. Where “hoping” and “wishing” instead of DOING reign supreme.
Nevertheless, we live in a world where there’s always someone trying to tell us or sell us, usually both, that their way is the right way, the only way, the best way, the fastest way.
Advice is a wonderful thing, and the most successful people I know are always the most willing students, but at the end of the day, I think it’s important to remember that any real growth, any lasting sustainable change, always comes from within.
All my best,
12 thoughts on “What Screwtape taught me about Success”
jay you are an inspiration. i am an affiliate of carboncopypro and i would like to personally get in contact with you. im just a 19 year old kid on my path to sucess. if you could find time in your schedule to give me a call, i would be more than grateful. 214-949-7974. thanks for all that you do, Tyre Oliver
Very cool analogy Jay. The circles also look a bit like Simon Sinek’s drawing.
Dear Mr. Jay.
Thank you much for this informative.
Please go on and educate the US
( world ).
I have been a fan of the Screwtape Letters since my Mother introduced me to them. I like your analysis of how the approach relates to entrepreneurs. At first pass this is a book I would have thought had little to do with entrepreneurship. I’ll have to re-read it.
Love this post, Jay! Thanks for sharing yet another way to frame the relationship of inner and outer being.
I look forward to sharing this with my own readers, followers, and team members.
The “Screwtape Letters” are profound and on point. The diagram of the Will, Intellect and Fantasy reminds me of the diagram that Bob Proctor, the Personal Development Coach & Mentor from Canada describes in his “Bornrich” series as to how the Subscious Mind takes on and forms habits. Very interesting material you’ve posted here, and I would love to see more of your revelations regarding the Soul, which makes up the Mind the Will and Emotions!
Thanks Jay, sometimes we all just need to hear the right words at the right time…..these words from your article worked for me today.
1.we are more likely to achieve something we are passionate about. We have a different level of energy and motivation
2.when we are confronted with a situation that is difficult, frightening or uncomfortable, we begin to over-analyze the issue
3. Fantasy: This place is littered with sentences that begin with stuff like: “I hope to one day-”…” The challenge for entrepreneurs is to keep our goals out of this realm. This is a realm of INACTION. Where “hoping” and “wishing” instead of DOING reign supreme.
Thanks for sharing
Your such a good writer.Cant wait till you come out with your book.Reminds me of what I am working on in creating my own concentric circles from the book cracking the millionaire code.
As always you seem to be right on spot.Thanks for being such a good teacher and mentor.So proud to be a part of this community. Carmen Jones
Dear Jay –
Thank you for a great message.
It’s always insight from my mentor, you.
Thanks for sharing, Jay. You’re inspired me once again.
Jay I have had this message in my e-mail inbox all this time. The Subject Line definitly caught my attention.
I also know that you provide great insight on how we as humans create our biggest challenges.
As always great insight and inspiration to really eliminate to much intellect in the process and operate on Will..