Prosperity Chapter XXIII
How To Bring Out The Man You Can Be
Prosperity Chapter XXIII:
Said the great psychologist, William James, "The average individual
develops less than ten percent of his brain cells and less than thirty
percent of his possible physical efficiency. We all live below our maximum of accomplishment."
Suppose a human being, because of lack of proper nourishment, or of
some accident in childhood, should attain only ten percent of his
possible physical height and only thirty percent of his normal weight,
what a pitiable object he would present! What a wretched apology for the
well-proportioned, perfectly developed being the Creator had planned
the unfortunate dwarf would be!
Yet, so far as the man of the God-plan is concerned, most of us are
self-made dwarfs, falling short not ten, twenty, or thirty, but a
hundred percent of our possible development. Even those who climbed to
the mountain peaks of human achievement, — the Michael Angelos, the
Beethovens, the Shakespeares, the Miltons, the Dantes, the great men and
women in every field of creative work, — never reached the maximum of
their possible accomplishment.
During a visit to California, I one day stood in awe before a giant
tree, in the hollow of which General John C. Fremont, "Pathfinder of the
Rockies," with his staff, lived for months when on a government survey
expedition. More than a hundred soldiers had been in the trunk of this
tree at one time. Near by was another, over three hundred feet in
height, estimated to contain about two hundred thousand feet of lumber, —
enough to build all the houses of a small village.
As my eye wandered over their huge trunks and limbs, the thought
came, that had the same seeds which produced these giants of the forest
been planted in a cold northern country, in soil which contained but
little nourishment, then, even with the greatest care, they would have
been dwarfs instead of giants.
Instead of being capable of housing a detachment of soldiers, or of
producing enough timber to make houses for a whole village, they would
have been mere scrubs of trees, pigmies instead of the giants they might
have been under the right conditions for development.
Just as unfavorable conditions in the vegetable kingdom dwarf a
possible giant tree and make it a pigmy, so do unfavorable conditions in
the animal kingdom dwarf a possible giant in a man and make him a
pigmy. But while the tree has no power of itself to change conditions,
to alter or improve its environment, man is made to dominate his
environment; to bend conditions to his will; to overcome all obstacles
that may hinder or delay his highest possible development.
In other words, every acorn, if conditions are just right, may
become a grand oak, but every human acorn, in spite of conditions, no
matter how bad they may be, can become, if he will, a grand man.
Man's development depends on his ideal of himself, the mental
picture of his appearance and environment which he constantly visualizes.
So long as we think that we are merely human, sons of Adam, inheriting
only his weaknesses, his limitations; so long as we are convinced that
we are helpless victims of heredity, of circumstances and environment,
we can never express, anything but mediocrity, weakness, inferiority.
A great artist who put his whole soul in his work would never look at
inferior pictures, because he said, if he did, he would become familiar
with false artistic ideals, and his own pencil would soon catch the
taint of inferiority.
"Persistently hold the
thought that you are eternally progressing towards something higher in
every atom of your being. This will make you grow, will enrich your
- O.S. Marden
It is familiarity with a weak, inferior ideal of ourselves that dwarf
s and stunts our development. As long as we think we are poor
ineffectual nobodies no power in the world can make us anything else.
Our mental attitude fixes the limit of our development. Nothing can save
us from our own conviction of inferiority, and inability to rise above
the things that hold us down.
"We actually have powers of many kinds which we habitually fail to
use," says Dr. James J. Walsh. "We have acquired the habit of not being
equal to ourselves." This habit of not being equal to ourselves is what
causes a great majority of human beings to underestimate what they are
capable of doing. They measure their capacity by what they have done in
the past or by what others think they can do, and so they plod along in a
narrow groove of inferiority, in which their real power is never
exercised. Unless some fortunate accident intervenes, the larger man
remains undiscovered, and they go to their graves without ever having
gone below the surface of their almost limitless hidden powers.
I recently met a man who had plodded along in a very ordinary way
through what is commonly regarded as the most productive years of life
without showing any special ability. In fact he failed in several things
he had attempted. But, although he was not strong on self-confidence,
he kept hammering away and happened to make a business hit.
His success aroused a new man in him, gave him a new sense of power.
He was never quite the same afterwards. He carried himself more
confidently, with more assurance. The vision of new power he had
glimpsed in the great within of himself opened his eyes to his
possibilities, and he rapidly developed a marvelous business capacity
which he never before realized he possessed.
"That vision which grips your heart, that longing of your soul to do
something significant, that dream of high achievement which haunts your
imagination, is not a mere fantasy, a whimsical unreality, it is a
prophecy of the big things you will do if you get your higher self to
work for you."
- Orison Swett Marden
Prosperity Chapter XXIII , continued...
His whole outlook and his entire methods of business changed.
Timidity, hesitation, diffidence, a wobbly uncertain policy of life gave
place to boldness, self-confidence, quickness and firmness of decision,
and he went up by leaps and bounds until he became a great financial
power, and a leader in his community. He had found the hidden spring
which opened up the gate of his life and gave him a glimpse of his
Not what you have done, or have failed to do, but what you are
capable of doing now; not what you are, but what you are capable of
becoming, — these are the important facts in your life.
It doesn't matter so much what others think of you; what they believe
is possible to you; it is what you think of yourself; what you believe
you have the ability to do that counts. This is of immense importance to
you, because you will not begin to touch your possibilities until you
make the acquaintance of your real self, the bigger possible "me" in
After his seventy-five years of marvelous individual accomplishment,
Thomas A. Edison says that man is yet in the chimpanzee stage of
development, and that he has gained but a mere glimpse of his
The unfolding of man's hidden powers has progressed more rapidly
during the past twenty-five years than in any other fifty years of the
world's history. But the advance in individual progress is nothing
compared with the developments this century will witness.
There is no name so secure in the Hall of Fame, there is no leader in
any line of endeavor today, who is not likely to be superseded by
someone who is yet entirely unknown to fame. There may be at this
moment, on this continent, some youth who will break all previous
records in music, in art or literature. There may be working for some
American merchant today a clerk who will eclipse the records of the
greatest merchant princes of the world. A greater than Shakespeare may
now be in swaddling clothes.
When every human being awakens his sleeping genius, brings out the
giant in the great within of him, we will have a world of supermen, a
race of gods.
"Don't be afraid to
think too highly of yourself. If the Creator made you and is not ashamed
of the job, certainly you should not be. He pronounced His work good,
and you should respect it."
John Drinkwater, author of the great play, "Abraham Lincoln," says:
"He who most completely realizes himself is he who most fitly assumes
leadership of men, not only in the days of his life on earth, but in the
story that he becomes thereafter. And for nearly two thousand years
there has been no man of whom we have record who has so supremely
realized himself to the very recesses of his being as this American,
There is no man, however humble his birth or environment, who brings
out the best that is in him, realizes himself "to the very recesses of
his being," who will not be a great man. But it is only at long
intervals that anyone does this; that a man arises whose full power has
been given anything like complete expression as in a Lincoln.
Many of the richest mines in the world were abandoned time and again
before their hidden wealth was discovered by the more gritty and
persevering prospectors. These men were not satisfied with superficial
digging, but went down into the very bowels of the earth until they
found the treasure they were after. They became fabulously rich, while
the fellows who quit, or wandered from claim to claim, never giving time
or energy enough to one; never having enough faith in its possibilities
to dig deeper, died in poverty.
In one instance I know of a man who mortgaged everything he had in
the world, borrowed all he could, and even sold his clothing, to raise
enough money to enable him to sink a shaft below the point at which a
former prospector had quit, and, going only a few yards deeper, he
struck one of the richest silver mines on this continent.
The men who never amount to much, the failures and ne'er-do-wells,
are like the prospectors who dug only a little way down into their
claims and then quit, dying in poverty and wretchedness when they might
have been rich beyond their wildest dreams. There are thousands of
down-and-outs in the great failure army today who had possibilities that
would have made them captains in the ranks of industry, leaders in
different vocations; there are multitudes of employees, much abler men
and women than their employers, plodding hopelessly in inferior
positions, who have enough undiscovered ability hidden away in them to
make them supreme in their line, but they have never had the grit, the
courage and the perseverance to dig down to the treasure-house of their
hidden wealth. They prospected a little along the surface of their being
and then quit.
There is just as much success material; there are just as many
success potencies in many of those who fail as there are in those who
succeed. The trouble with most of the failures is that they never dig
deep enough into themselves to bring out the bigger man that is hidden
"The constant struggle to measure up to a high ideal is the only force in heaven or on earth that can make a life great."
Multitudes of men and women never discover their real selves, because
their investigations are so superficial. They don't think deeply or
work in the right way; they don't focus their efforts with sufficient
intensity to open the door to their locked-up possibilities.
Are you willing to go through life as a pigmy when there is something
in you which even now is telling you that you can be a giant? Are you
going to put forth a giant's efforts to bring out the biggest thing in
you, or are you going to sit around waiting for luck or something
outside of yourself to come to your assistance, — for outside capital,
for somebody to give you a lift?
You will never unfold the bigger man God has wrapped up in you in this way, my friend.
The only power that will develop the giant in you is right inside of you.
God himself can't develop the human acorn that chooses to remain a
dwarf, a scrub oak instead of the grand human oak of the Creator's plan.
Orison Marden Books
Prosperity Chapter XXIII
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