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Prosperity Chapter IX:
When Gordon H. Selfridge, former manager of the Marshall Field Company, went to London and there established a great department store of the Marshall Field type, he took the final step in the realization of a dream, which he had nursed for years.
Long before he stepped foot on the shores of England, he had had the department store all worked out in his mind. He had built it mentally before he crossed the Atlantic, and already in his mind's eye, saw it a marvelous success. "I pictured the great crowds of customers headed toward my new store," he said, "and could see it full of eager buyers long before I went to England."
From the time that the idea of a department store in London took form in his mind, Mr. Selfridge kept visualizing the completed structure. He kept his dream alive and vivid by the determination to make it come true.
He would not allow it to be shattered, or let his idea be driven out by doubts, fears, and uncertainties, or by the well meant advice of his friends: to keep out of England because the English people were so slow to new ideas that he would fail if he went there.
He didn't heed what they said, for he didn't believe that the English people were so unprogressive as they thought. He believed that they would respond to the American idea, the Marshall Field idea, and that the methods which had proved so successful in the United States would also be successful in England.
The amazing popularity of the Selfridge Department Store, which has long been one of the sights of London, is but another proof that the dreamer who dreams dreams and sees visions is always wiser than, and always ahead of, the so-called practical, wise ones who discourage him and try to turn him aside from his vision.
The men and women who, in all ages, have done great things in the world have always been dreamers, have always seen visions, and always pictured their dreams as realities; visualized themselves accomplishing the things they were ambitious to do long before they were able to work them out in the actual and make them realities.
Columbus, Stephenson, Charles Goodyear, Elias Howe, Robert Fulton, Cyrus W. Field, Edison, Bell — all the great discoverers, scientists, explorers, philanthropists, inventors, philosophers, who have pushed the world forward and done immeasurable service to mankind, have visualized their dreams, nursed their visions through long years, many of them in the midst of poverty, persecution, ridicule, opposition, and contumely of all sorts, until they brought their dreams to earth and made them realities.
In making a study of the methods of successful men and women I have found that they are almost invariably strong and vivid visualizers of the things they are trying to accomplish. They are intense workers as well as dreamers, and nurse their vision tenaciously until they match it with reality. They build castles in the air, but they put the solid foundation of reality under them.
When Lillian Nordica was a poor girl, singing in the little church choir in her native village in Maine, when even her own people thought it a disgrace for a girl to appear on the stage, to sing in public concerts or in opera, she was picturing herself a great prima donna singing before vast audiences in her own country, in foreign capitals, and before the crowned heads of Europe.
"The moment you resolve to make your life dream come true, you have taken the first step towards its realization, but you will stop there if your efforts cease."
- O.S. Marden
When young Henry Clay was practicing oratory before the domestic animals in a Virginia barn and barnyard, he visualized himself swaying vast audiences by his eloquence. When Washington was a lad of twelve he pictured himself as a leader, rich and powerful, a man of vast importance in the colonies, and the ruler of a nation he would help to create.
When the young John Wanamaker was delivering clothing in a pushcart, in Philadelphia, he saw himself as the proprietor of a much larger establishment than any then in that city. He saw beyond that and glimpsed the Wanamaker of later days, the great powerful merchant, with immense stores in the world's leading capitals.
Young Carnegie pictured himself a powerful figure in the steel world, as did the youth Charles M. Schwab, even when an ordinary employee. When working at the Homestead plant Schwab told Mr. Carnegie what he wanted was not more salary, not a larger position as a mere employee; that his ambition was to be a partner in the concern. That was the only thing that would satisfy him.
Now this sort of visualizing is not mere vanity, or petty egotism, it is the God urge in men pushing them out beyond themselves, beyond what is visible to the physical eye, to better things.
The Scriptures tell us that without a vision the people perish. I have never known a man to do anything out of the common, who was never able to see beyond the visible into the vast invisible universe of the things that might be; who did not keep clearly in his mind the vision of the particular thing he was trying to accomplish.
It is the man who can visualize what does not yet exist in the visible world about us and see it as a reality; the man who can see thriving industries where others see no chance, no opportunities; the man who sees teeming cities, great populations on the prairies where others see only sagebrush, alkali plains, desolation; the man who sees power, opulence, plenty, success, where others see only failure, limitation, poverty, and wretchedness, who eventually pushes to the top and wins out.
It was this sort of vision that made James J. Hill the great "empire builder" of the Northwest. His dream of a great system of railroads that would cause millions of fertile farms to spring up along their route and make the desert blossom like a rose, was laughed at as a visionary-scheme by many of those who were working for him when he died. They were men who had never been able to make a place and a name for themselves, because they had never learned that the great secret of success lies in visualizing dreams and making them come true. Perhaps they did not believe in their dreams, and put them out of their minds as mere idle fancies.'
Many people seem to think that the imagination, or visualizing faculty, is a sort of appendix to the brain, which it is not a fundamental or necessary part of man, and they have never taken it very seriously. But those of us who have studied mental laws know that it is one of the most important functions of the mind.
We are beginning to discover that the power to visualize is a sort of advance courier, making announcement of the things that the Creator has qualified us to bring about. In other words, we are beginning to see that our visions are prophecies of our future; mental picture programs, which we are supposed to carry out, to make concrete realities.
- Orison Swett Marden
For instance, a youth whose bent is entirely in another direction is not haunted by an architectural vision, an art vision, a mercantile vision, or a vision of some other calling for which he has no natural affinity.
A girl does not dream of a musical career for years before she has the slightest opportunity for taking up music as a career if she has no musical talent, or if her ability in some other line is much more pronounced. Boys and girls, men and women, are not haunted by dreams to do what nature has not fitted them for.
We dream a particular dream, see a particular vision, because we have the talent and the special ability to bring the dream, the vision, into reality. Of course, I do not mean by dreams and visions the mere fantasies, the vague, undefined thoughts that flit through the mind, but our real heart longings, our soul yearnings, the mental pictures of a future which haunts our dreams, and the insistent urge which prods us until we try to match them with their reality, to bring them out into the actual. There is a divinity behind these visions. They are prophecies of our possible future; and nature is throwing up these pictures on our mental screen to give us a glimpse of the possibilities that are awaiting us.
One reason why most of us do such little, unoriginal things is because we do not sufficiently nurse our visions and longings. The plan of the building must come before the building. We climb by the ladder of our visions, our dreams.
The sculptor's model must live in his own mind before he can call it out of the marble. We do not half realize the mental force we generate by persistently visualizing our ideal, by the perpetual clinging to our dreams, the vision of the thing we long to do or to be.
We do not know that nursing our desires makes the mental pictures sharper, more clean cut, and that these mental processes are completing the plans of our future life building, filling in the outlines and details, and drawing to us out of the invisible energy of the universe the materials for our actual building.
There is no other one thing you will find so helpful in the attainment of your ambition as the habit of visualizing what you are trying to accomplish, visualizing it vividly, just as distinctly, just as vigorously as possible, because this makes a magnet of the mind to attract what one is after.
All about us we see young men focusing their minds with intensity and persistence on their special aims and attracting to themselves marvelous results. A medical student holds in his mind a vision of himself as a great physician or surgeon, and in a few years we are amazed at the size of his practice. He called it out of the great universal supply by his perpetual visualizing, the constant intensifying of his desire, and the unceasing struggle on the material plan to make his dream come true.
Even if you are only a humble employee, visualize yourself as the man you long to be; see yourself in the exalted position you long to attain, a man of importance and power carrying weight in your community.
No matter if you are only an errand boy or a clerk, see yourself as a partner in your concern, or a proprietor of a business of your own. There is nothing more potent in drawing your heart's desire to you than visualizing that desire, dreaming your dream, seeing yourself as the ideal man of your vision, filling the position in which your ambition would place you.
Visualize yourself doing what you desire most, and work with all your might for the attainment of your object on the physical plane, and nothing can hinder your success. These are the means, consciously or unconsciously adopted, by which every successful man has ultimately attained his heart's desire.
Reading and thinking, visualizing and working along the lines of his ambition, the boy, Thomas Alva Edison, at the very first opportunity, when a newsboy on the Grand Trunk Railway, begins to actualize his desires by experimenting with chemicals in a baggage car which he had fitted up as a laboratory. He clings to his vision constantly, visualizes his dream of the magic possibilities of electricity; goes on discovering, experimenting, inventing, until we find him the world's greatest electrical inventor, the "Wizard of Menlo Park," His mind, working in harmony with Divine Mind, has wrought marvelous inventions out of the great cosmic intelligence, which is packed with potencies for those who can visualize with intensity and work with constancy.
"Dreams are true while they last, And do not we live in dreams?"
What Edison has done, what all aspiring souls have done to make their dreams come true, you can do. Cling to your vision and work.
There is a power in man, back of the flesh, but not of it, working in harmony with the Divine Intelligence in the great cosmic ocean of energy, of limitless supply, that is, today, performing miracles in invention, in agriculture, in commerce, in industry.
This power, which is creative and everywhere operative, is destined to lift every created thing up to the peak of its possibilities. It is latent in you, awaiting expression, awaiting your cooperation to realize your ambition.
The first step toward utilizing this power is to visualize the ideal of what you want to make real, the ideal of the man or the woman you aim to be, and the things you want to do. Without this initial step the further process of creating is impossible.
No matter what happens, always hold fast to the thought that you can be what you long to be; that you can do the thing you want to do, and picture yourself always as succeeding in what you desire to come true in your life.
No matter how urgent duties or obligations may for a time hold you back, how circumstances and conditions may contradict the possibility of your success; how people, even your own people, may blame or misunderstand you, may even call you a crank, crazy, a conceited egotist, hold fast to your faith in your dream, in yourself.
Cling to your vision, nurse it, for it is the God-inspired model by which He is urging you to shape your life.