“EVERY FAILURE BRINGS WITH IT THE SEED OF AN EQUIVALENT ADVANTAGE.”—Napoleon Hill
This is another rightfully controversial statement in “Think And Grow Rich.” I mean…ANY failure? How about your parachute failing to open, huh..?
Trust me, I get it. Further, most of us have heard people pushing this further:
—Any handicap of birth
I understand what this saying (which certainly didn’t originate with Hill) is trying to say, and in a sense I agree with it. But if you take it too far, if you don’t levin it with compassion, you risk stepping over lepers on your way to the masked ball: “ah, he’s just not discovered the blessing in his affliction.”
We’ve all heard this kind of self-serving obscenity. But if the extreme is so poisonous, where is it valid? Well, let’s look at the OTHER extreme. That would be the belief that a problem, failure, or misfortune means that there is no hope, that you cannot or should not pursue or achieve your dreams.
The death of faith, in other words.
If your family is dealing with poverty or lack, but you love Mom and Dad, you are very likely to absorb beliefs that suggest that the pain in your life has NOTHING to do with their love for you, their capacity, their basic goodness or worth. You are, in other words, likely to absorb beliefs that will cripple you if you aren’t careful.
What is necessary is to
1) Love yourself enough to need no core emotions from others.
2) With this perspective, love others, including those who raised you, from the perspective that they did the very best they could with the resources they had. But you can honor them by rising ABOVE their level of accomplishment. After all, you had their shoulders to stand on, yes? You needn’t be limited by their perception of limitations. You can and should see further, go further, do more, if you have the same capacity they had, and take advantage of all they gave you.
3) Develop your view of history and personal psychology, such that you can see how human beings accomplish and act, the vast movement of civilization as a flow independent of the individual capacity of the humans within the groups. No need for guilt, blame, shame, or feelings of inferiority or superiority.
Then commit to going as far as YOU can, in the time you have, with the energy and capacity you have.
And there is no slightest doubt that PERSISTENCE is a critical capacity. When I began my writing career, studying the lives of other writers showed me that careers rise and fall and rise and fall, “breaking in” could be frustrating and back-breaking work, and you had to have a “thick face, black heart”—the capacity to shut your mind and heart to outside criticism and any nay-sayers.
This was why I decided to write and market 100 stories before I even BEGAN to question whether or not I had the capacity to reach my dreams.
One of my favorite people, Tim Piering, said that you can accomplish anything if you have
1) Clearcut written goals and plans for their accomplishment expressed in continuous action.
2) The ability to take action despite the voices in your head.
And remember Lonnie Athens’ theory of how people become hardened criminals?
1) Brutalization or violent horrification (sufficient emotional motivation to overcome inertia)
2) “I’m mad as hell and I”m not taking it any more.” Action to ease pain/gain pleasure begins.
3) Action is taken, of greater success than failure. (The road of trials)
4) Finding allies who share your values (allies and powers)
5) Internalizing their values.
#5 might be stated: “they become the voices in your head”.
Remember what Athens said: by the time you get to step #5, there is NO KNOWN INTERVENTION (IMO: short of spiritual epiphany, or a combination of love, faith, and sex) that can change this person.
If this is true negatively (criminal or failure behavior) it is also true positively (creative success behavior).
You will persist if you have FAITH that winning is still possible, and that you will experience more pleasure than pain if you continue to “try.”
Look around yourself at “lazy” people. I don’t believe in such folks. What I DO believe in is people who have lost all faith that their efforts can be rewarded, that action will bring more pleasure than pain.
If you DO believe action will bring more pleasure than pain, we are evolutionarily designed to take that action. Cannot resist it.
If you see an individual who in criminality or inaction, they have no faith that legal action will bring them as much pleasure, or avoid as much pain as their current actions/inactions. To the degree that you can help them access different representations of their lives, you will help them motivate themselves.
But motivation isn’t enough—if they take action, THEY MUST GET RESULTS. And once a person has taken a certain number of steps along a path of criminality or sloth, the potential pleasure of change can be outweighed by their inertia. The results are not pretty.
But the best way you can help THEM is to help yourself. And the best way to help yourself is to have motivations that go beyond your own ego needs: service to all. A beautiful balance.
HOW do you maintain your action in the face of resistance. Here is a way of looking at it in alignment with this particular book (there are countless others). Apply these thoughts to your own life, and also look at how they apply to others that you know.
1) Desire. You have to admit that you want and need something (“Confronted with the challenge)
2) Faith. You must believe that you can and should pursue your goal. (“Accepting the challenge”)
3) Auto-Suggestion. You must align your beliefs, values, emotional charges and daily actions, so that you are not fighting yourself. “Auto-suggestion” through repetition of emotionalized affirmation is the technique suggested in this 1937 book. But self-hypnosis, NLP, physically-linked “morning ritual”, meditation and other techniques are also powerful, and perhaps more-so.
4) Specialized Knowledge. You have to study the arena you in which you desire excellence. MODEL the belief systems, mental syntax and use of physiology of those who have mastered the discipline. Study the best of the best.
5) Imagination. You have to be able to see yourself having it. To imagine solutions to future problems. Research research research…and tap into your creative consciousness.
6) Organized plans. Develop your long, intermediate and short-term plans. Know what you have to do TODAY to reach your goals, and how they support becoming the man or woman you want to be in 3 years or more.
7) DECIDE to act. Cut off means of emotional retreat. The clearer your motivations are, the easier it will be to make that decision. You may not want to run into a burning house, but if you can clearly see your children screaming, you will not hesitate.
8) Persist. Keep going. Set a goal similar to “100 stories” and burrow in, taking your satisfaction from knowing you’re one of the few willing to go all the way. Success is found only among this group.
Now…in terms of looking at this all in social terms, we can look directly at the performance gap between black and white, and see precisely how studying success can help us understand social dysfunctions. And trust me: you CANNOT claim to centuries of oppression without also admitting there is individual and social-level damage.
And this damage can only be (or is best) addressed from within the community, much as a mugging or abuse victim MUST find the strength to stand up, move on, and seek the support necessary to heal and live. Without that spark, no one on the outside can help.
1) Desire. You have to ADMIT you want something, right? Well…you cannot do that if you believe that pursuing it will bring more pain than pleasure. What was it my mother told me when I was ten? “If you let white people know how smart you are, they will kill you.” Good lord. That poor kid.
2) Faith. You have to believe, right? The more people around you you’ve seen accomplish dreams similar to yours, the easier it is to believe you can do it. The first to accomplish tend to be extraordinary adventurers of the heart. Each following person is just following a blueprint or map.
3) Auto Suggestion—the repetition of belief patterns within and without your community: justifications for failure, explanations of your own inferiority. Devastating stuff when you see it a hundred times a day, even more when it is expressed at the level of the social unconscious.
4) Specialized Knowledge. We know that the more accurate the map the easier it is to reach the goal. If I have a map showing how to get to Disney World from Chicago, it is of limited use in getting there from Los Angeles. One of the definitions of a “society” is a group with a defining “edge” over which information flows less readily. Being shut out of the group with greater success by race, religion, nationality or whatever means that only the exceptional person, who can abstract more efficiently, will be able to succeed. HE or SHE then creates a path that an “average” person can follow.
But by definition, extraordinary people are rare.
5) Imagination. I’m going to stop here, because the damage in the previous levels can cripple the ability to dream, let alone to gather the accurate information that can be turned over to the unconscious mind for “programmed dreaming” and problem solving.
If you don’t know anyone who has solved the problem of success, your chances of doing so are reduced. And if you get messages from your culture that tell you it is hopeless, you won’t have faith you can do it.
There are people who believe the images in popular culture are meaningless, and I’ve been unreasonable to spend so much time looking into that aspect of life. IMO, they are asleep.
When “The Legend of Tarzan” came out, I expressed some of my reactions, chiefly that the entire story is an expression of a very specific point of view held by the original author and shared by the entire culture at the time, a belief that only BEGAN to break down in about 1965.
Here is the core statement, in “Jungle Tales of Tarzan”, the story “Tarzan and the black boy”:
“Tibo had shuddered at the sight, but he had thrilled, too, and for the first time there entered his dull, Negroid mind a vague desire to emulate his savage foster parent. But Tibo, the little black boy, lacked the divine spark which had permitted Tarzan, the white boy, to benefit by his training in the ways of the fierce jungle. In imagination he was wanting, and imagination is but another name for super-intelligence.
Imagination it is which builds bridges, and cities, and empires. The beasts know it not, the blacks only a little, while to one in a hundred thousand of earth’s dominant race it is given as a gift from heaven that man may not perish from the earth.”
Every image of every “Tarzan” movie is based on this concept. It cannot be erased from the saga without ripping a hole in its basic contention. You can paper over it, put frosting on that turd or lipstick on that big, but the stench is still there. And if you think Edgar Rice Burroughs was expressing a rare attitude, you aren’t looking at the popularity of the trope. And if you admit that this was a standard attitude (reflected in the Encyclopedia Brittanica of the time) then you HAVE to ask what the impact on a damaged, oppressed community would have been.
Plato was far far more worried about argumentation in the form of drama than direct debate. When ideas are integrated deeply into the warp and woof of a drama, and never stated directly, YOU CANNOT ARGUE WITH IT.
I submit that this basic belief pattern might be politely avoided, that people might pretend to belief in equality (“equality of humanity” “equal under the law” “equal in the eyes of God”) while actually privately thinking “poor bastards. God cheated them of brainpower.”
And if you don’t see how having countless direct and indirect statements to this effect in every media (when not excluded completely) damages the soul, then again, I have to categorize you among the sleeping.
The damage is stupendous, and so is the work ahead.
So…dream, believe, act, achieve if you have the heart for it. And allow yourself to be a role model for others. Help draw the map.
And if you don’t have that urge, at least stop pretending you would have gotten as far if the maps hasn’t been drawn for you before you were born. I’d say that’s the least you can do.
Those who DO have the heart? Take your anger, pain, fear, shame, guilt, any other negative emotion…and use them to motivate you toward the light. ““EVERY [negative experience] BRINGS WITH IT THE SEED OF AN EQUIVALENT ADVANTAGE.”
If you can USE your negative emotions to motivate you, you become a better, stronger person. And if you love that person, you must acknowledge that the path that created you itself had value.
Yeah, its a paradox. A contradiction. But if you can embrace it, there is unbelievable power in the resolution of the duality.