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Orison Swett Marden.

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burlesque of the human being God made. His
image does not deteriorate or go backward, but
moves forever onward, eternally upward. If
human beings could only once grasp this idea,
that the reality of them is divine, and that
divinity does not go backward or grow old.



WHY GROW OLD? 159

they would lose all sense of fear and worry,
all enemies of their progress and happiness
would slink away, and the aging processes
would cease.

The coming man will not grow old. Per-
petual youth is his destiny.
{'The time will come when people will look
upon old age as an unreality, a negative, a
mere phantom of the real man. The rose that
fades is not the real rose. The real rose is the
ideal — the idea which pushes out a new one
every time we pluck the one that fades.

The real man is God's ideal, and in the light
of the new day that is dawning man will
glimpse that perfect ideal. He will know the
truth, and the truth will make him free. In
that new day he will cast from him the ham-
pering, age-worn vestures woven in the
thought-loom of mankind through the cen-
turies, and stand erect — the perfect being, the
ideal man.



X. THE MIRACLE OF SELF-
CONFIDENCE



X. THE MIRACLE OF SELF-
CONFIDENCE



If there be a faith that can remove mountains, it is
faith in one's own power.— Marie Ebister-Eschen-

BACH.

"Instead of being the victims of fate, we can alter our
fate, and largely determine what it shall be."

"Your ideal is a prophecy of what you shall at last
unveil."

HY," asked Mirabeau, "should
we call ourselves men, unless
it be to succeed in everything
everywhere ? " Nothing else
will so nerve you to accom-
plish great things as to be-
lieve in your own greatness,
in your own marvellous possibilities. Count
that man an enemy who shakes your faith in
yourself, in your ability to do the thing you
have set your heart upon doing, for when
your confidence is gone, your power is gone.
Your achievement will never rise higher than
your self- faith. It would be as reasonable for
Napoleon to have expected to get his army
over the Alps by sitting down and declaring
that the undertaking was too great for him,
as for you to hope to achieve anything sig-

163




i64 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

nificant in life while harboring grave doubts
and fears as to your ability.

The miracles of civilization have been per-
formed by men and women of great self-con-
fidence, who had unwavering faith in their
power to accomplish the tasks they undertook.
The race would have been centuries behind
what it is to-day had it not been for their grit,
their determination, their persistence in find-
ing and making real the thing they believed
in and which the world often denounced as
chimerical or impossible.

There is no law by which you can achieve
success in anything without expecting it, de-
manding it, assuming it. There must be a
strong, firm self -faith first, or the thing will
never come. There is no room for chance in
God's world of system and supreme order.
Everything must have not only a cause, but
a sufficient cause — a cause as large as the
result. A stream cannot rise higher than its
source. A great success must have a great
source in expectation, in self-confidence, and
in persistent endeavor to attain it. No matter
how great the ability, how large the genius,
or how splendid the education, the achieve-
ment will never rise higher than the con-
fidence. He can who thinks he can, and he



SELF-CONFIDENXE 165

can't who thinks he can't. This is an inexor-
able, indisputable law.

' "It does not matter what other people think
/^of you, of your plans, or of your aims. No
^matter if they call you a visionary, a crank,
or a dreamer; you must believe in yourself.
You forsake yourself when you lose your con-
fidence. Never allow anybody or any misfor-
tune to shake your belief in yourself. You may
lose your property, your health, your reputa-
tion, other peoples' confidence, even ; but there
is always hope for you so long as you keep
a firm faith in yourself. If you never lose that,
but keep pushing on, the world will, sooner or
later, make way for you.

A soldier once took a message to Napoleon
in such great haste that the horse he rode
dropped dead before he delivered the paper.
Napoleon dictated his answer and, handing it
to the messenger, ordered him to mount his
own horse and deliver it with all possible
speed.

The messenger looked at the magnificent
animal, with its superb trappings, and said,
" Nay, General, but this is too gorgeous, too
magnificent for a common soldier."

Napoleon said, " Nothing is too good or too
magnificent for a French soldier."



i66 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

The world is full of people like this poor
French soldier, who think that what others
have is too good for them ; that it does not
fit their humble condition; that they are not
expected to have as good things as those who
are " more favored." They do not realize how
they weaken themselves by this mental attitude
of self-depreciation or self-effacement. They
do not claim enough, expect enough, or de-
mand enough of themselves.

You will never become a giant if you only
make a pygmy's claim for yourself; if you
only expect a pygmy's part. There is no law
which can cause a pygmy's thinking to pro-
duce a giant. The statue follows the model.
The model is the inward vision.

Most people have been educated to think
that it was not intended they should have the
best there is in the world ; that the good and
the beautiful things of life were not designed
for them, but were reserved for those espe-
cially favored by fortune. They have grown
up under this conviction of their inferiority,
and of course they will be inferior until they
claim superiority as their birthright. A vast
number of men and women who are really
capable of doing great things, do small things,
live mediocre lives, because they do not expect



SELF-CONFIDENCE 167

or demand enough of themselves. They do not
know how to call out their best.

One reason why the hviman race as a whole
has not measured up to its possibilities, to its
promise ; one reason why we see everywhere
splendid ability doing the work of mediocrity ;
is because people do not think half enough of
themselves. We do not realise our divinity;
that -cve are a part of the great causation prin-
ciple of the universe.

We do not think highly enough of our
superb birthright, nor comprehend to what
heights of sublimity we were intended and
expected to rise, nor to what extent we can
really be masters of ourselves. We fail to see
that we can control our own destiny ; make
ourselves do whatever is possible ; make our-
selves become whatever we long to be.

"If we choose to be no more than clods of
clay," says Marie Corelli, " then we shall be
used as clods of clay for braver feet to tread
on."

The persistent thought that you are not as
good as others, that you are a weak, ineffect-
ive being, will lower your whole standard of
life and paralyze your ability.

A man who is self-reliant, positive, optimis-
tic, and undertakes his work with the as-



i68 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

surance of success, magnetizes conditions. He
draws to himself the literal fulfillment of the
promise, " For unto every one that hath shall
be given, and he shall have abundance."

There is everything in assuming the part
we wish to play, and playing it royally. If you
are ambitious to do big things, you must make
a large programme for yourself, and assume
the part it demands.

There is something in the atmosphere of
the man who has a large and true estimate of
himself, who believes that he is going to win
out ; something in his very appearance that
wins half the battle before a blow is struck.
Things get out of the way of the vigorous,
affirmative man, which are always tripping the
self-depreciating, negative man.

We often hear it said of a man, " Every-
thing he undertakes succeeds," or " Every-
thing he touches turns to gold." By the force
of his character and the creative power of his
thought, such a man wrings success from the
most adverse circumstances. Confidence be-
gets confidence. A man who carries in his very
presence an air of victory, radiates assurance,
and imparts to others confidence that he can
do the thing he attempts. As time goes on, he
is reenforced not only by the power of his own



SELF-CONFIDENCE 169

thought, but also by that of all who know him.
His friends and acquaintances affirm and re-
affirm his ability to succeed, and make each
successive triumph easier of achievement than
its predecessor. His self-poise, assurance, con-
fidence and ability increase in a direct ratio
to the number of his achievements. As the
savage Indian thought that the power of every
enemy he conquered entered into himself, so
in reality does every conquest in war, in peace-
ful industry, in commerce, in invention, in
science, or in art add to the conqueror's power
to do the next thing.

Set the mind toward the thing you would
accomplish so resolutely, so definitely, and with
such vigorous determination, and put so much
grit into your resolution, that nothing on earth
can turn you from your purpose until you
attain it.

This very assertion of superiority, the as-
sumption of power, the affirmation of belief
in yourself, the mental attitude that claims
success as an inalienable birthright, will
strengthen the whole man and give power to
a combination of faculties which doubt, fear,
and a lack of confidence undermine.

Confidence is the Napoleon of the mental
army. It doubles and trebles the power of all



I70 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

the other faculties. The whole mental army
waits until confidence leads the way.

Even a race horse cannot win the prize after
it has once lost confidence in itself. Courage,
born of self-confidence, is the prod which
brings out the last ounce of reserve force.

The reason why so many men fail is be-
cause they do not commit themselves with a
determination to win at any cost. They do not
have that superb confidence in themselves
which never looks back; which burns all
bridges behind it. There is just uncertainty
enough as to whether they will succeed to take
the edge off their effort, and it is just this
little difference between doing pretty well and
flinging all oneself, all his power, into his
career, that makes the difference between
mediocrity and a grand achievement.

If you doubt your ability to do what you set
out to do ; if you think that others are better
fitted to do it than you ; if you fear to let your-
self out and take chances ; if you lack bold-
ness ; if you have a timid, shrinking nature ;
if the negatives preponderate in your vocabu-
lary ; if you think that you lack positiveness,
initiative, aggressiveness, ability; you can
never win anything very great until you
change your whole mental attitude and learn



SELF-CONFIDENCE 171

to have great faith in yourself. Fear, doubt,
and timidity must be turned out of your mind. ^

Your own mental picture of yourself is a '"'
good measure of yourself and your possibih-
ties. If there is no out-reach to your mind, no
spirit of daring, no firm self-faith, you will
never acccJmplish much.

A man's confidence measures the height of
his possibilities. A stream cannot rise higher
than its fountain head.

Power is largely a question of strong,
vigorous, perpetual thinking along the line of
the ambition, parallel with the aim — the great
life purpose. Here is where potver originates.

The deed must first live in the thought or it
will never be a reality ; and a strong, vigorous
concept of the thing we want to do is a tre-
mendous initial step. A thought that is timidly
born will be timidly executed. There must be
vigor of conception or an indifferent execu-
tion.

All the greatest achievements in the world
began in longing — in dreamings and hopings
which for a time were nursed in despair, with
no light in sight. This longing kept the cour-
age up and made self-sacrifice easier until
the thing dreamed of — the mental vision — was
realized.



172 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

" According to your faith be it unto you."
Our faith is a very good measure of what we
get out of Hfe. The man of weak faith gets
little ; the man of mighty faith gets much.

The very intensity of your confidence in
your ability to do the thing you attempt, is
definitely related to the degree of your achieve-
ment.

If we were to analyze the marvellous suc-
cesses of many of our self-made men, we
should find that when they first started out in
active life they held the confident, vigorous,
persistent thought of and belief in their ability
to accomplish what they had undertaken.
Their mental attitude was set so stubbornly
toward their goal that the doubts and fears
which dog and hinder and frighten the man
who holds a low estimate of himself, who asks,
demands, and expects but little, of or for him-
self, got out of their path, and the world made
way for them.

We are very apt to think of men who have
been unusually successful in any line as great-
ly favored by fortune; and we try to account
for it in all sorts of ways but the right one. The
fact is tliat their success represents their ex-
pectations of themselves — the sum of their
creative, positive, habitual thinking. It is their



SELF-CONFIDENCE 173

mental attitude outpictured and made tangible
in their environment. They have wrought —
created — what they have and what they are
out of their constructive thought and their un-
quenchable faith in themselves.

We must not only believe we can succeed,
but we must believe it with all our hearts.

We must have a positive conviction that we
can attain success.

No lukewarm energy or indifferent ambi-
tion ever accomplished anything. There must
be vigor in our expectation, in our faith, in
our determination, in our endeavor. We must
resolve with the energy that does things.

Not only must the desire for the thing we
long for be kept uppermost, but there must
be strongly concentrated intensity of effort to
attain our object.

As it is the fierceness of the heat that melts
the iron ore and makes it possible to weld it
or mold it into shape ; as it is the intensity
of the electrical force that dissolves the dia-
mond — the hardest known substance; so it is
the concentrated aim, the invincible purpose,
that wins success. Nothing was ever accom-
plished by a half-hearted desire.

Many people make a very poor showing in
life, because there is no vim, no vigor in their



174 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

efforts. Their resolutions are spineless ; there
is no backbone in their endeavor — no grit in
their ambition.

One must have that determination which
never looks back and which knows no defeat ;
that resolution which burns all bridges behind
it and is willing to risk everything upon the
effort. When a man ceases to believe in him-
self — gives up the fight — you cannot do much
for him except to try to restore what he has
lost — his self-faith — and to get out of his head
the idea that there is a fate which tosses him
hither and thither, a mysterious destiny which
decides things whether he will or not. You
cannot do much with him until he compre-
hends that he is bigger than any fate ; that he
has within himself a power mightier than any
force outside of him.

One reason why the careers of most of us
are so pinched and narrow, is because we do
not have a large faith in ourselves and in our
power to accomplish. We are held back by
too much caution. We are timid about ventur-
ing. We are not bold enough.

Whatever we long for, yearn for, struggle
for, and hold persistently in the mind, we tend
to become just in exact proportion to the in-
tensity and persistence of the thought. We



SELF-CONFIDENCE 175

think ourselves into smallness, into inferiority
by thinking downward. We ought to think up-
ward, then we would reach the heights where
superiority dwells. The man whose mind is
set firmly toward achievement does not appro-
priate success, he is success.

Self-confidence is not egotism. It is knowl-
edge, and it comes from the consciousness of
possessing the ability requisite for what one
undertakes. Civilization to-day rests upon self-
confidence.

A firm self-faith helps a man to project
himself with a force that is almost irresistible.
A balancer, a doubter, has no projectile power.
If he starts at all, he moves with uncertainty.
There is no vigor in his initiative, no positive-
ness in his energy.

There is a great difference between a man
who thinks that " perhaps " he can do, or who
" will try " to do a thing, and a man who
" knows " he can do it, who is " bound " to
do it ; who feels within himself a pulsating
power, an irresistible force, equal to any
emergency.

This difference between uncertainty and
certainty, between vacillation and decision,
between the man who wavers and the man
who decides things, between " I hope to " and



176 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

" I can," between " I'll try " and " I will "—
this little difference measures the distance be-
tween weakness and power, between medioc-
rity and excellence, between commonness and
superiority.

The man who does things must be able to
project himself with a mighty force, to fling
the whole weight of his being into his work,
ever gathering momentum against the obstacles
which confront him ; every issue must be met
wholly, unhesitatingly. He cannot do this with
a wavering, doubting, unstable mind.

The fact that a man believes implicitly that
he can do what may seem impossible or very
difiicult to others, shows that there is some-
thing within him that makes him equal to the
work he has undertaken.

Faith unites man with the Infinite, and no
one can accomplish great things in life unless
he works in oneness with the Infinite. When
a man lives so near to the Supreme that the
divine Presence is felt all the time, then he
is in a position to express power.

There is nothing which will multiply one's
ability like self-faith. It can make a one-talent
man a success, while a ten-talent man without
it would fail.

Faith walks on the mountain tops, hence its



SELF-CONFIDENCE 177

superior vision. It sees what is invisible to
those who follow.

It was the sustaining power of a mighty
self-faith that enabled Columbus to bear the
jeers and imputations of the Spanish cabinet;
that sustained him when his sailors were in
mutiny and he was at their mercy in a little
vessel on an unknown sea; that enabled him
to hold steadily to his purpose, entering in his
diary day after day — " This day we sailed
west, which was our course."

It was this self- faith which gave courage and
determination to Fulton to attempt his first trip
up the Hudson in the Clermont, before thou-
sands of his fellow citizens, who had gath-
ered to howl and jeer at his expected fail-
ure. He believed he could do the thing he
attempted though the whole world was against
him.

What miracles self-confidence has wrought!
What impossible deeds it has helped to per-
form ! It took Dewey past cannons, torpedoes,
and mines to victory at Manila Bay ; it carried
Farragut, lashed to the rigging, past the de-
fenses of the enemy in Mobile Bay ; it led
Nelson and Grant to victory ; it has been
the great tonic in the world of invention,
discovery, and art; it has won a thousand



178 , PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

triumphs in war and science which were
deemed impossible by doubters and the faint-
hearted.

Self-faith has been the miracle-worker of
the ages. It has enabled the inventor and the
discoverer to go on and on amidst troubles
and trials which otherwise would have utterly
disheartened them. It has held innumerable
heroes to their tasks until the glorious deeds
were accomplished.

The only inferiority in us is what we put
into ourselves. If only we better understood
our divinity we should all have this larger
faith which is the distinction of the brave soul.
We think ourselves into smallness. Were we
to think upward we should reach the heights
where superiority dwells.

Perhaps there is no other one thing which
keeps so many people back as their low es-
timate of themselves. They are more handi-
capped by their limiting thought, by their
foolish convictions of inefficiency, than by al-
most anything else, for there is no power in
the universe that can help a man do a thing
zvhen he thinks he cannot do it. Self-faith
must lead the way. You cannot go beyond the
limits you set for yourself.

It is one of the most diMcult things to a



SELF-CONFIDENCE 179

mortal to really believe in his own bigness, in
his own grandeur; to believe that his yearn-
ings and hungerings and aspirations for
higher, nobler things have any basis in reality
or any real, ultimate end. But they are, in fact,
the signs of ability to match them, of power to
make them real. They are the stirrings of the
divinity within us ; the call to something bet-
ter, to go higher.

No man gets very far in the world or ex-
presses great power until self-faith is born in
him ; until he catches a glimpse of his higher,
nobler self ; until he realizes that his ambition,
his aspiration, are proofs of his ability to
reach the ideal which haunts him. The Creator
would not have mocked us with the yearning
for infinite achievement without giving us the
ability and the opportunity for realizing it,
any more than he would have mocked the wild
birds with an instinct to fly south in the winter
without giving them a sunny South to match
the instinct.

The cause of whatever comes to you in life
is within you. There is where it is created.
The thing you long for and work for comes
to you because your thought has created it ;
because there is something inside you that
attracts it. It comes because there is an affinity



i8o PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

within you for it. Your ozvn comes to you; is
always seeking you.

Whenever you see a person who has been
unusually successful in any field, remember
that he has usually thought himself into his
position ; his mental attitude and energy have
created it ; what he stands for in his commu-
nity has come from his attitude toward life,
toward his fellow men, toward his vocation,
toward himself. Above all else, it is the out-
come of his self-faith, of his inward vision
of himself; the result of his estimate of his
powers and possibilities.

The men who have done the great things
in the world have been profound believers in
themselves.

If I could give the young people of America
but one word of advice, it would be this —
" Believe in yourself with all your might."
That is, believe that your destiny is inside of
you, that there is a power within you which,
if awakened, aroused, developed, and matched
with honest effort, will not only make a noble
man or woman of you, but will also make you
successful and happy.

All through the Bilile we find emphasized
the miracle-working power of faith. Faith in
himself indicates that a man has a glimpse of



SELF-CONFIDENCE i8i

forces within him which either annihilate the
obstacles in the way, or make them seem
insignificant in comparison with his ability to
overcome them.

Faith opens the door that enables us to look
into the soul's limitless possibilities and re-
veals such powers there, such unconquerable
forces, that we are not only encouraged to go
on, but feel a great consciousness of added
power because we have touched omnipotence,
have a glimpse of the great source of things.

Faith is that something within us which
does not guess, but knows. It knows because
it sees what our coarser selves, our animal
natures cannot see. It is the prophet within
us, the divine messenger appointed to accom-
pany man through life to guide and direct
and encourage him. It gives him a glimpse of
his possibilities to keep him from losing heart,
from quitting his upward life struggle.

Our faith knows because it sees what we
cannot see. It sees resources, powers, poten-
cies which our doubts and fears veil from us.
Faith is assured, is never afraid, because it
sees the way out ; sees the solution of its
problem. It has dipped in the realms of our
finer life, our higher and diviner kingdom. All
things are possible to him who has faith, be-



i82 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

cause faith sees, recognizes the power that
means accomplishment.

If we had faith in God and in ourselves we
could remove all mountains of difficulty, and
our lives would be one triumphal march to
the goal of our ambition.

If we had faith enough we could cure all


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Online LibraryOrison Swett MardenPeace, power, and plenty → online text (page 8 of 14)