Ambition and Success

Chapter IX

Why Don’t You Begin?

When do you expect to do the wonderful things you have been dreaming about? Why don’t you begin? What are you waiting for? Why don’t you start? Are you waiting for a “good thing” to come to you, waiting for influence, for pull, for some one to help you?

Do you know that nothing is more demoralizing to the life, weakening to the character, than to be constantly wishing and dreaming of the great things we are going to do without a corresponding effort to actualize our dreams? Wishing without a corresponding effort to realize degenerates the mind, destroys initiative.

How many people deceive themselves into thinking that if they keep aspiring, if they keep longing to carry out their ideals, to reach their ambition, they will, without any other effort, actually realize their dreams! They do not seem to know that there is such a thing as aspiring too much, as forming the dreaming habit to one’s injury.

Our visions are the plans of the possible life structure; but they will end merely in plans if we do not persistently follow them up with a vigorous effort to make them real; just as the architect’s plans will end in his drawings if they are not followed up and made real by the builder.

Three things we must do to make our dreams come true. _Visualize our desire._ _Concentrate on our vision._ _Work to bring it into the actual._ The implements necessary for this are inside of us, not outside. No matter what the accidents of birth or fortune, there is only one force by which we can fashion our life material–mind.

All men who have achieved great things have been dreamers, and what they have accomplished has been just in proportion to the vividness, the energy and persistency with which they visualized their ideals; held to their dreams and struggled to make them come true.

“The crying evil of the young man who enters the business world to-day is the lack of application, preparation, thoroughness, with ambition but without the willingness to struggle to gain his desired end,” says Theodore N. Vail.

It is one thing to have the ability and the desire to do something distinctive, something individual, but doing it is a very different thing. There is a tremendous amount of unproductive ability in the great failure army to-day. Why didn’t the men who have it make something of themselves? Many of those men could be prosperous, successful men of standing in their community, instead of mendicants in a bread line. They had the opportunity to make good. Why didn’t they?

It is a good thing to ask ourselves every now and then whether we are making good; whether we are making the most of our opportunities; whether we are going up or down. Oliver Wendel Holmes says it does not matter so much where we stand as the direction in which we are moving.

In what direction are you moving?

There are thousands of people in this country to-day who have splendid ambitions, who have made resolutions to carry out those ambitions, but who are cowering victims of doubt, which keeps them from making a start. They are just waiting. They are unable to make a beginning while this monster stands at the door of their resolution. They are afraid to burn their bridges behind them, to commit themselves to their purpose.

At the very outset of your career it is a splendid thing to make up your mind that you are going to be a conqueror in life, that you are going to be the king of your mental realm and not a slave to any treacherous enemy; that you will choose the wisest course, and, no matter how forbidding or formidable the difficulties in the way, that you will take the turning which points toward the goal of your ambition, no matter who or what may bar your onward path. Don’t let doubt balk your efforts. Don’t let it paralyze your beginning and make you a pigmy so that you will not half try to make good when you have a waiting giant in you. Confidence, self-assurance, self-faith–these are the great friends which will kill the traitor doubt.

The fact that you have an almost uncontrollable impulse, a great absorbing ambition to do a thing which meets with the approval of your judgment and your better self, is a notice served upon you that you can do the thing, and should do it at once.

Do not be afraid of taking responsibilities. Make up your mind that you will assume any responsibility which comes to you along the line of your legitimate career and that you will bear it a little better than anybody else ever before has. There is no greater mistake in the world than that of postponing present responsibility thinking that we will be better prepared to assume it later. It is accepting these positions as they come to us that gives us the preparation; for we can do nothing of importance easily, effectively, until we have done it so many times that it becomes a habit.

How often we hear people make remarks like this: “I know that I ought to do this thing to-day, but I do not believe I will,” or “I do not feel like it.” So they, perhaps, procrastinate, or let the thing slide along, and do just the opposite to what they know they ought to do.

If those who are disappointed with what they have so far accomplished, would only make up their minds that for one month they would force themselves to do the things they dislike, but which they know would be for their good, they would get a new start on the success road, a grip on themselves and their possibilities. Their whole work system would feel the resultant tonic.

On the very resolution to do the thing which is best for you–no matter how disagreeable, no matter how humiliating, no matter how much you may suffer from sensitiveness or a feeling of unpreparedness–depends the development of your manhood, or womanhood.

Why be afraid to demand great things of yourself? Affirm your ability to do and be and powers which you never dreamed you possessed will leap to your assistance. “Trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

There is no one that can shut the door which leads to any legitimate ambition, to a larger, fuller life, but yourself. There are no obstacles, no difficulties, no power on earth, nothing but yourself that can make God’s promise to man void: “Behold, I have set before you an open door which no man can shut.”

We are all reservoirs of power, and what we make of ourselves, what we achieve in life, is not dependent on the outward things, but on the extent to which we draw on our hidden forces, our latent talents and resources.

Whatever comes to us in life we create first in our mentality. As the building is a reality in all its details in the architect’s mind before a stone or brick is laid, so we create mentally everything which later becomes a reality in our achievement. Our heart longings, our soul aspirations, are something more than mere vaporings of imagination. They are prophecies, predictions, couriers, forerunners of things that can become realities.

Hold the picture, the plan of the man or woman you long to be and that you are resolved to be, and stick to your mental plan of a glorious future. Do not give up in your discouraged moments or allow any obstacle to blur your ideals. Persist in visualizing the ideal man you are determined to be, and always think of yourself as you are ambitious to become. This mental attitude will help you to match your dream with its reality. There is a magnetic, attractive power in such a mighty purpose, in clinging to one unwavering aim. This sort of mental attitude and effort will establish your relation between yourself and the thing you are seeking.


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