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Why Some Positive Thinkers Get Powerful Results
By Norman Vincent Peale
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1986 Norman Vincent Peale
All rights reserved.
I've Got It Made
I'm glad that I have never been able to say or even to think that I've got it made. I'm still dreaming, still planning, still trying, still working, and everything is continuously exciting.
We hear people say, "At last I've got it made." About achievers we admiringly exclaim, "He has made it to the top. He's got it made." Or "She has hit the jackpot. That woman sure has everything." So it goes!
But I have sometimes noted something sad about "got-it-maders"; a certain quality seems to have gone out of them. The incentive, the drive, the motivation that took them to the top has declined. The old thrill and excitement of achievement aren't like they once were. Now that these people have got it made, the challenge has dimmed, and maybe the enjoyment of getting there doesn't live up to expectations. As one top achiever complained, "There isn't much fun in life anymore. No challenges or problems like there were."
The president and chief executive officer of one of the most famous corporations in America had a spectacular rise in business. At thirty-five he was top man in a highly competitive industry. He had it made, or so it seemed. At forty he was tiring of it all, and at forty-five he'd "had it," to quote his downbeat evaluation of his career. "From now on," he complained, "I've just got to hold my own, keep some fellow from pushing me off my chair. It was a lot more interesting when I was fighting my way up the hard way. Those were the great days of my life. It isn't the same anymore."
But other men and women are geared differently. Having achieved one goal, they set another and repeat the old tried and true success pattern. They come up with fresh achievements. Having fulfilled old dreams, these people latch onto fresh dreams, bigger challenges, more exciting objectives. Thus it is that they have a perpetual delight in living and working and winning. Their enthusiasm never runs down. Theirs is a constantly renewing and exciting experience. Always they are zestful, eager, creative. They never have it made; they are always striving to make it.
The true flavor, the real fun, the continuous excitement is in the process of making it rather than in having made it. Happiness actually is found in striving for a goal rather than in settling down to enjoy the attained objective. It is found in setting another goal and enthusiastically going for that goal in the same old competitive, innovative spirit.
Happiness at last comes to those who never lose the excitement of going after new goals, who are forever wanting to achieve something better. If you are a winner in a big way or even in a moderate way, you may conclude that since you have it made, you may rest upon your laurels. Be careful, for the result of doing that can be no more laurels. Perhaps more important, there may be no more of the joy of striving.
One of the most genuinely happy men I ever knew was the late Amos Parrish, perhaps the top sales idea expert in the department store industry. Though he stuttered all his life, store executives would come annually to A. P.'s lectures, packing the grand ballroom of a big New York City hotel to listen to him talk about marketing. This was an outstanding and remarkable achievement, but it was only one of his goal realizations. Even as he grew older, his mind was alert, constantly delivering amazing new ideas. When I would compliment him on some big success, he would brush it aside. "Listen to this idea I'm working on now. This is a h-h-honey," he would excitedly stutter.
When word came that he was dying at ninety-four years of age, I telephoned him. I always loved him and owed him much because he had always inspired me. "Hey there," he said with his usual enthusiasm, "I've got a new idea. This one is a beaut." And he went on to outline an exciting new goal. There was, of course, no talk of dying, only talk about the excitement of living. But two days later he was dead of a progressive disease. A. P. never really had it made, though he was a very successful businessman. He was always involved in the further making of it and having the time of his life in the process.
This unique, unforgettable man brings to mind another equally remarkable friend, the famous baseball executive Branch Rickey. He was successively head of the Saint Louis Cardinals, the former Brooklyn Dodgers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. His book, The American Diamond, is a classic on the game of baseball. At a dinner celebrating Branch Rickey's fifty years in baseball, a reporter asked him, "What was your greatest experience in your half-century in this great American sport?" Pulling down his beetling eyebrows, Rickey snapped, "Don't know. I haven't had it yet." Despite his many distinguished achievements, this man would never assume he had it made. To him it was always still in the making. As a result, his career went from one higher level to another, there being no halting of his achievements.
I was the speaker on a recent Sunday morning in the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. This amazing structure was crowded to overflowing by a congregation, according to the newspapers, numbering eleven thousand people in two services and filling every auditorium on the campus. Surrounded by landscaped grounds where sparkling fountains toss their spray, this huge steel and glass church is the spiritual home of millions who receive its message weekly by television.
My presence was occasioned by the observance of the thirtieth anniversary of Dr. Robert Schuller, the minister who, beginning with five hundred dollars and a lot of faith, built this great church. On this special Sunday Dr. Schuller announced plans for another center to serve family needs. One might have thought that he too had it made, but for a unique group of positive people there are always new goals to be built on old goals already achieved.
Regardless of all you may have done to realize your goals, you can do still more; to all your previously achieved goals, you can add other exciting objectives. I want to remind you, if you need reminding, that your future stretches out before you, packed with all kinds of marvelous opportunities. You haven't made it yet, no matter how outstanding your achievements have been. The best, your best, is yet to be. Never look at the great things you have done and say, "Not bad, not bad at all. I've got it made." Instead tell yourself that the splendid things you have accomplished are just indications of what you can do. Believe, always believe, and never doubt that your future lies entrancingly out there ahead of you. Then you will proceed from one level of achievement to another in a life pattern of continuous growth and development.
Basic to our American way of life is the doctrine that any person, under the free opportunities afforded by democracy, can rise to the level of his belief and talent. The quality of one's belief and thinking has been demonstrated to be superior in importance to talent. In fact, thought and faith have often released talent previously unsuspected. Realizing the importance of these features, I have successfully persuaded many people that by positive thinking and by faith in God and in themselves, they can release extraordinary ability from their personalities. By this method many supposedly ordinary persons have become quite extraordinary individuals. But quite beyond anything I or other writers in the field of inspiration and motivation may have done, the climate of America has of itself produced amazing life stories.
In a midwestern city my wife, Ruth, and I were guests in the exquisitely beautiful home of an unusually successful businessman, one who has created an innovative and famous enterprise. Previously I had the privilege of conferring upon him the prestigious Horatio Alger Award given to distinguished Americans who have risen from poverty to positions of honor and influence.
"Where were you born, Dave?" I asked our host.
"I don't know. I think Atlantic City" was his surprising reply. "Nor do I know who my parents were. I was an orphan and grew up with foster parents. I was sent out into the world with only a few dollars in my pocket." After many vicissitudes, this orphan boy got a busboy job with a restaurant owner in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
A hard worker who had the ability to think, Dave did a good job. Eventually his boss sent him to see what could be done with a small restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, which was failing. But Dave had no success with this restaurant until he realized that he had too many items on the menu which required a large inventory that made it difficult to make a profit. With a limited menu, he turned the restaurant around. He took his profits and opened a hamburger restaurant, because he had loved hamburgers since he was a child. He named his little restaurant after one of his daughters, Wendy, and it gradually took off. Dave Thomas always used the best beef, constantly added new features, and created attractive outlets. He used his good mind and his strong faith to such advantage that currently the Wendy's chain consists of some 3,200 restaurants and is rated at the top of this type of food business.
If you were to ask Dave Thomas if he has it made, meaning that the possibilities for his development have been reached, you would receive a strong negative reply. Men of his stature are the type of persons who constantly improve the American economy. They are perpetual new goal setters who proceed from one level to ever-higher levels of achievement.
It so happens that I am in what may be called the speaking business. That is to say, I accept many engagements to address state and national business conventions, community gatherings, and other functions. Long ago I discovered that this business is one in which you never have it made. No matter how long you have been speaking or how well you may have done it, the engagement tonight is the one that matters. You must do this one to the very best of your ability. Whatever reputation you may have may predispose the audience in your favor before you begin tonight's talk, but that lasts only a few minutes. You will be judged by this crowd on what you do this night.
At a national business convention meeting at which I was scheduled to speak, I was talking before the session with a young, aspiring speaker. "How long have you been at this speaking business?" he asked.
"About fifty years," I replied.
"Boy, you are fortunate. You have it made. And I'm going to have it made myself pretty soon."
"I am sorry to disabuse you," I said, "but I do not have it made. I must give this speech as if I had never spoken before, and I must give all that I'm capable of to this audience."
Several years later I was on a program with this same speaker, now older and wiser. "I know what you meant back there that night in Chicago. Now just when I think at last I've got it made, I get slapped down in a speech and feel like a beginner all over again."
"You and me both," I replied ruefully as we shared a moment of camaraderie.
On the basis of this philosophy of the "I've got it made" concept, what is the most successful principle of goal setting and goal achieving? As a starter let me set forth some rules that I have known to be effective, and then I will develop them further as I go along.
1. Think about where you want to get in life.
2. Come to a firm decision about your basic objective.
3. Formulate and write your goal in a sharp, clear statement, and eliminate all fuzziness of thought.
4. Study and learn all that you can about your goal and how to get there.
5. Fix a time for achieving your goal.
6. Pray about your decision to be sure that it is right. If it is not right, it is wrong, and nothing wrong turns out right.
7. Give your goal complete and unremitting effort, and never give up trying.
8. Apply positive thinking.
9. Never assume you have it made. One goal attained leads to another and on and on.
One technique I developed for myself is to write a goal on a card and keep it in my shirt pocket over my heart, the traditional seat of emotional response. My goal, I decided upon in my youth, is to help as many people as possible to live at their highest potential by persuading them to become believers, positive thinkers, people of faith. Many years ago I wrote this goal on a card and have carried it in my shirt pocket ever since. I have had other goals from time to time and have written each of them on cards so that now and then my pocket has been filled with written goals. As I achieved them, I removed the cards. Sometimes I have also copied goals set by other people and carried them in my pocket and prayed about them for friends who also used the shirt pocket technique.
I have often described this method of goal attainment in speeches before sales and business conventions, and many people have used it effectively. For example, a young man attended a national insurance convention where I outlined the shirt-pocket technique in a speech. He was a dedicated agent, but he wasn't doing too well. My speech convinced him that the principal reason for his lack of success was that he really did not expect to set any records. He determined to take a more positive attitude, to visualize himself as achieving better results.
This convention was held early in the new year. Following the speech, he went to his room in the hotel and had a "good ruthless think session," as he described it to me later. Then and there he set a sales goal for the year at a figure that "left him breathless" since it was far beyond anything he had ever done. Here is what he wrote on the card that he carried in his shirt pocket all year long. That it contributed to his success he has no doubt.
I image this new year as my best year.
I affirm enthusiasm, energy,
and pleasure in my work.
As a positive thinker, I believe I will
do 10 percent better than last year.
God will help me reach this goal.
"At the end of that year what result did you have?" I asked.
"Believe it or not," he replied, "I hit that 10 percent increase smack on the nose. Had I not used your shirt-pocket technique I would still be fumbling along near the bottom of our agency. I firmly believe it gave me a new, positive attitude that brought out a talent I didn't know I had. Anyway, I'm moving up now."
"When you went for that 10 percent increase, a figure that is really amazing, how did you feel?"
"Well, you know," he said, "it's funny, but I just knew I could do it. I'm a committed Christian, and every day I said, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' (Phil. 4:13), or 'If you have faith as a mustard seed, ... nothing will be impossible for you' (Matt. 17:20)." He added, "Those Bible promises really work. I know that for sure, because they are working for me."
"You've got it made?" I said admiringly with a question mark in my tone.
"Oh, no, I haven't. I'm just starting on my way, and I've got an awful lot to learn. The old failure pattern is still in me and could grab control if I let down. But I'm not going to be lulled into a false sense of security by saying, 'I've got it made.'"
Smart fellow! He was turning his insecurity into a creative motivation.
Turn back to that list of nine rules for reaching a goal, and note the emphasis on knowing definitely where you want to go and the importance of setting a time for reaching your objective. This sort of clear, definite focusing of aim I consider to be very important. If you know exactly where you wish to go and when you expect to get there, you are mentally summoning all the immense force of your personality into action, and you are directing that force to the support of your objectives.
I wish to repeat here an incident I have often used to demonstrate the power inherent in this principle. Playing golf one day, I sliced a ball into the rough at the fairway's edge. A young fellow raking leaves there politely helped me find my ball. "Sometime, Dr. Peale, I would like to talk to you about myself," he said rather hesitatingly.
"When?" I asked.
Startled he said, "Oh, I don't mean now. Just sometime."
"Sometime seldom comes," I said. "Meet me at the eighteenth hole in about thirty minutes and we will talk." Later sitting in the shade of a tree, I asked the young fellow's name and said, "Now, what's on your mind?"
"Oh, I don't know. I just want to get somewhere."
"Where?" I asked. "Exactly where do you want to get?"
He looked bewildered. "Oh, I don't know where. I just know I want to get somewhere else from where I am now. I don't know just where."
"And when do you plan to get where you don't know where you want to get?"
Confused by these questions and perhaps even a bit irritated, he grumbled, "How do I know when? Just sometime. I want to get somewhere sometime."
Then I asked him what he could do best, and he replied that he did nothing very well and he didn't know what he could do the best. To my question about what he liked to do, he thought awhile and then answered that he didn't know what he particularly liked to do.
"Well, now, here's your situation as I see it: you want to get somewhere, but you don't know where. And you do not know when you expect to get there. Besides that, you don't know what you can do the best nor what you like to do. Is that about it?"
Excerpted from Why Some Positive Thinkers Get Powerful Results by Norman Vincent Peale. Copyright © 1986 Norman Vincent Peale. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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