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Vivid Thinking Makes Success Certain

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



SOME principles are so simple that we often overlook their significance. For instance, success is lack of failure; each failure is due to some mistake; each mistake in action originates in some mistake in thinking. To change from failure to success, it is necessary to develop those processes of thought which prevent mistakes, and which lead to success.

There is a process of success. It is a dual process. The first step is vivid imaging in thinking. It is the subject of this chapter. The second step is idealized doing. It is thé subject of the next chapter. This dual process—vivid imaging and idealized doing —guarantees success.

You have often been told that success comes to the man who "uses his brain"—that is, to the man who thinks. But mere thinking will not prevent him from making mistakes; neither will purposeful thinking, nor well thought out plans.

Thinking in vivid images is the only process which always prevents mistakes.

Even great experts make mistakes when they fail to think in vivid images.

The great Quebec bridge fell down in the process of construction. All the factors determining its construction had been given careful thought by great engineers. There had been months of exact figuring and calculation of stresses and strains. Certainly, the engineers and constructors did not in-tend it to collapse, delay their work, injure their reputation as bridge builders, and cause loss of life.

Yet, it did collapse, and hence someone—evidently many engineers — made some serious mistake in thinking, overlooking some important factor. Can such mistakes in examining a plan—no matter what it is —be prevented ? Can they always be pre-vented?

As you study the failure of the noted engineers who planned the Quebec bridge, and the colossal blunder of the great engineers who planned two of the subways of New York City, you will be convinced that the most expert and careful thinking about a plan, and the most exact examination of it, do not guarantee success nor prevent failure. You will also be convinced that nothing but vivid images can prevent such failures.

This study will not mean much to you unless you realize that an idea differs from a mental image, and unless you discriminate between the process of "thinking-in-ideas" and that of "thinking-in-vivid-images."

Your mind is a living consciousness, but you often permit the greater part of its con-tent to die. The content is usually a colony of corpses of images which were once alive. That is the difference between ideas and vivid images. Ideas are the dead corpses of images which were once living and vivid.

In his mind, the successful inventive genius forms vivid images of every part of the machine which he is constructing. Before it is made, he mentally sees each part separately, and all parts assembled and working together. After examining a new machine he is able at any time to re-image a picture of the machine. He re-sees the image when the physical object is no longer present. That is thinking in vivid images.

You look at the same machine; but, after leaving it, you are able "only to think about it." That is thinking in ideas.

Vividness is a quality of mind which makes geniuses, and it can be developed. When you read "the iron is hot," you think of the idea of heat. When you accidentally put your finger tip on the red hot iron, your mind thinks in vivid images of special heat, because an image is the immediate result of sense impressions.

A vivid image is formed by sense impressions.

So, you can develop vividness in thinking by use of your special senses—by use of all of them.

There are more than five special senses. There are twelve. They are color, sound, smell, taste, balance, motion, direction, heat, cold, weight, tactility, and pressure. Images formed by using only a few senses may lead to mistakes. Vivid images formed by using all the senses are infallible.

Success begins by testing every factor of your plan by vivid sense images. That means testing what you plan to do by mental pictures formed by use of all of the senses. If you are testing a thing, use the special senses themselves. If you are testing plans or propositions, use the sense images.

But why do vivid images test with more certainty than do ideas? Why is the test more certain than the most careful thinking of engineering experts?

Because thought—without vivid imaging —is never complete. If you merely think about a yard, a foot, or an inch, you do not image it exactly. Test yourself. Can you, without a measure, draw a line which is exactly a yard long? Can you do it every time you try to do it? If not, you do not image a yard. The image of a yard is more definite, more concrete, and more exact, than is the idea or thought about a yard. This explains the catastrophe of the Quebec bridge. The engineers were trained to think about yards and pounds, stresses and strains; but, they failed to image them.

The thought about a pound is no more like the image of a pound, than the three letters "c-a-t" are like your cat!

Success begins by preventing mistakes in thinking.

You can prevent such mistakes by idealizing common sense. Common sense alone is not enough. Common sense is the unified use of certain senses—unified so many times by so many people that such use has become common. Idealized common sense is different. It includes all the sense images which should be included in the vivid images. Mistakes can be prevented only by testing every factor of your plan by vivid images!

For example, note how I was "taken in," when I failed to use all the senses which should have been used. Some time ago, I was nosing around in one of the antique shops I know. I ran across a massive silver tray. I know from past experience that all such antique silver trays are solid silver, for in the old days they made no plated ware. Common sense told me : "That silver tray is a genuine antique because the pattern is old, the form is old, the workmanship appears to be old, and it has the stamp of a time long passed." The shopman turned the tray this way and that, so that I might see all these things for myself. After examining it carefully, I decided to buy it. I paid for it and had it sent home.

I was at home when it arrived. I opened the package myself, and lifted the tray out of its box. Then I lifted it again and carried it into the dining room. I was pleased at having discovered this old tray, but already some newly awakened image was beginning to puzzle my mind.

Some vague something said that another vague something was not just right! At first the idea was very vague. Then it be-came clearer. Finally I thought, "this tray doesn't seem to be as heavy as a solid silver tray of its size should be." I picked it up again ; I tested it by my sense of weight. It was not as heavy as a silver tray of that size would have been.

In the shop I had not lifted it; I had allowed the shopman to do that. Hence, I had not used all of the senses I should have used in forming a vivid image of that tray. That I had been "taken in" was proved to me when I took it to a reliable silversmith who showed me that the tray, although a marvelous imitation, was after all made of light weight metal thickly plated with silver.

In the shop in which I purchased the tray, I had used sight in looking at it. I had used my senses of motion and direction in perceiving its form and size; I had used my sense of sound both in listening to what the shopkeeper said and in listening to the sound produced when the tray was tapped ; but I had not used my sense of weight.

In purchasing that tray I was a failure.

I failed when examining it, because I did not make my image vivid and complete. In subsequent chapters you will discover the use of the special senses is the only certain means of success in buying and selling. This is important because the process of buying and selling is a part of every effort in attaining success.

The first step in the process of success is vivid imaging—with especial emphasis on the vividness of the images. This is very important because every idea or thought or judgment is based upon mental images. If the images of your thoughts are not vivid, make them so by adding more special sense qualities. In other words, train and develop your special senses.

It is important that you do so, for the success of every step of your thought and action depends upon vivid imaging. I am not basing this assertion upon a pet theory, but upon the phenomenal successes of those who have used vivid imaging, and the sad failures which have come to some of the biggest men in the world when they failed to think in vivid images .

Note this colossal failure made by scores of expert engineers.

For six years several great engineering experts were engaged in planning and constructing the dual subway system from the center of New York City to Queens. One of the lines runs under the East River at Forty-second Street. The other runs under the river at Sixtieth Street. The two join at the Bridge Plaza in Queens. The engineers of the two great companies worked together for several years so that the track extending from this junction out on Long Island might be used for cars of both companies.

Yet, all the engineering plans and careful inspection and checking up of blue prints, all the figuring of details by experts, and all the reviews of figures made so that the engineers might be certain that every factor was correct, did not prevent one of the most ridiculous and stupendous failures which has ever been made in engineering construction. Remember that this mistake was not made by amateurs. It was made by scores of engineering experts and by hundreds of assistants and mathematicians who had had years of engineering experience.

This is the stupid mistake which was made.

Concrete beds were laid for the rails; concrete stations were built ; and, since the gauges of the cars of both companies—that is, the distance between the wheels—were exactly the same, every one of those experts thought that it would be possible to run the cars of both companies on the same tracks. They continued to think this for six years,

But, after all the concrete work of miles of subway had been finished, after the platforms had been laid, after one company had been using the lines for a year and the tunnel of the other company was nearly completed—then, and then only, it was discovered by someone, that, although the wheels of all cars were equidistant, the floors of the cars of the two companies were not the same in width.

If the station platforms had been made wide enough to permit the wide cars of one company to pull into the station ; then when the narrower cars of the other company pulled in, there would have been an eight or ten inch space between the platform and the cars. This, with tens of thousands of people stepping on and off cars daily, would mean that the number of accidents would be greatly increased.

Hence, it became evident that it would be necessary either (1) to lay two sets of rails, or (2) tear down the concrete construction work of the platforms, making them wide enough to permit the wider cars to enter the stations, and adapting them to the narrower cars by adding sliding floor edges to each platform so that the edges could be slid out each time a train of narrower cars pulled in.

This gigantic failure, ridiculous if it were not so serious, was the result of well thought-out plans, carefully estimated, every detail of which had been figured out by some of the greatest civil engineers in the world and checked up by expert mathematicians.

Vivid imaging would have prevented the mistake.

If only one man, of all the hundreds of engineers, employed during the six years, had vividly imaged nothing else but the two kinds of cars ; if, instead of thinking about cars, he had vividly imaged them—imaging the front, or the back, ends of the two kinds of cars—he would have seen that the bodies of the cars of one company were a foot wider than the bodies of the cars of the other company, even though the wheels of each kind of car were the same distance apart.

And more, if he had vividly imaged these cars running along the tracks and pulling into the stations, he would have seen that two cars of different widths could not enter the same stations, with platforms a fixed distance from the rails.

The most expert thinking and planning, without definite vivid imaging, often leads to failure. Failure to image any one part if it is only the end of a car, in the building of an entire subway system—may result in stupendous failure, and cost millions of dollars to remedy the defects.

I write almost nothing about reasoning and judging, and I omit these subjects purposely. If your imaging is vivid, you can-not make a mistake in reasoning or in judging. Yet, what thousands of failures have resulted from mistakes in selection—of plans, processes, propositions, and people—due to lack of vivid imaging. The saneness and safety of all thought processes depends on the completeness of the vivid images which form your thought. Vivid imaging is the thought process which always wins success.

Since vivid imaging builds new structure in the brain, extraordinary results are attained when one is trained, by vividly imaging the process of doing that which one wishes to learn to do.

For years I had trouble each time I en-gaged a new stenographer. If I hired one who had just finished a stenographic school course, I found that she had to learn "all over again," although she had been given the best training stenographic schools give.

I studied the problem to discover the cause.

In stenographic schools, the first work done by the student when learning steno-graphic characters is done by means of the EYE. A book is used, and the student studies the characters, learning the form of each by seeing it. This embodies the form image of each stenographic line or symbol in the brain center of sight!

Next, the student learns to transcribe these characters by muscle movements of the hands and fingers.

But, each time the stenographer takes dictation from an employer, she is compelled to perceive that which he dictates by hearing it. She then perceives the sounds of the words dictated, by use of her ears—not her eyes. Thus, the impressions of the sounds of the words are registered in the brain center of HEARING—not in the brain center of sight. To secure efficiency, the brain center of hearing should be related to motor brain centers which move the muscles of the hands and fingers. Of course, in the schools dictation is given during training. But, the harm has already been done by teaching the sight form of the symbols first, instead of the sounds.

Now, when I need another stenographer, I pick out a young person who has ability to learn, but who has little or no knowledge of stenography.

I blindfold the person and teach him to learn the stenographic characters, first by movement of the hands and fingers—that is, by making the movements necessary to make the symbols. This is made possible by charts of raised symbols which are raised in the same way as are letters in books for the blind.

This first step in learning stenography embodies a vivid image of the form of each symbol in the brain center, which must be used when the stenographer begins to transcribe his dictation.

At the time I teach each movement, I re-peat the sound of which the character is the symbol.

By this method, the brain center of hearing and the brain center of movement are at once related. As a result, stenography is learned in a few hours—an hour a day for a couple of weeks—instead of taking months to learn it. Moreover, the student is an efficient stenographer as soon as the characters are learned in this way.

And vivid imaging prevents mistakes in thinking.

You made a mistake in buying that suit last month, because you thought that the suit possessed certain qualities which it does not possess. You were a failure in making that purchase. You failed (1) because you thought that suit possessed qualities like the qualities you wished it to possess, and (2) you thought it possessed those qualities be-cause you failed to think in images vivid enough to note how it differed from what you wished to buy.

Alen, who become great successes, make decisions because of differences, not because of likenesses. Do likewise, and be successful.

It is so easy to perceive likenesses. It is the lowest kind of mind action. It is not complete. It leads to mistakes. It leads to failure, because it is due to thinking in ideas instead of vivid images.

Qualities of likeness may attract you, but only vivid imaging of differences leads you to decide wisely and prevent mistakes.

You are a young man. You like a certain friend of your sister. She may, perhaps, be your sweetheart. She is a charming girl, beautiful, blue eyes, dark hair, trim of form, and graceful in movement.

One day as you come from your office, and turn up the street, you see a young lady walking a little ahead of you. She is trim, neatly dressed, her hair is dark. In clothes and form she looks like the friend of your sister. You hasten your step to overtake her. It is the likeness which attracts your attention and the likeness which attracts you. As you hurry to catch up with her you note how gracefully she walks—her carriage and movement are like those of your friend. Your heart beats faster; you catch up with her; you lift your hat; flash a smile; and speak. She turns and says: "Laud o'massy, white mans, you shuah is de mos' darin' mash . . ."

You made the mistake, because you thought of likeness!

And, certainly, your first glimpse of a single difference convinces you that you did make a mistake.

In all selling efforts, present qualities of likeness to attract and interest and create desire in the minds of others ; and then, present qualities of difference to convince and close the deal.

The vivid imaging process of thought prevents failures by preventing them at the beginning—by preventing mistakes in your thinking. Selection by likeness alone leads A few years ago, oil was discovered in California west of the coast mountain range. There the wells were gushing thous-ands of dollars of oil each day. At that time, a friend of mine visited the desert lands east of the mountain range and in the crevices of a gulley, accidentally found chunks of earth soaked with oil. It felt and looked like the oil-soaked earth found in the oil region on the other side of the mountains.

In his mind, he saw oil gushers in this region like those west of the mountains. In his imagination, he saw himself many times a millionaire like the men who discovered oil west of the mountains. As several people knew that he was on that trip, he kept his discovery to himself, and invested all his savings in that desert land. To secure additional options, he borrowed all he could borrow. All his thought and action was based on recognition of likenesses.

Then the experts found a difference. It looked like oil, but it was not oil. It felt greasy just as petroleum feels greasy, but it was not petroleum. It was of no commercial value whatever, and he was financially ruined.

The use of vivid imaging to perceive differences quickly secures the same results which are secured by long drawn out efforts of "efficiency experts." A few years ago, I was interested in a hotel property in Paris. It did not pay a good profit. So, I spent a few hours in the dining room and kitchen to watch the service of those working there.

I had the measurements of kitchen, serving room, and dining room sent to my studio, and, there, worked out a plan for remodeling those rooms. The changes were made. As a result, the number of those required, to do the work was reduced forty per cent. Instead of a hundred people being necessary, sixty people did the work more easily, after the remodeling was done.

Under the old arrangement, it was necessary for the chefs, who did the broiling, to take four steps in handling each chicken to be broiled. Because of the number of patrons, it was necessary to employ three chefs to do the broiling. After the remodeling, things were so arranged that such a chef could easily reach from the iced drawers in which the chickens were kept to the fire, without taking a step. As a result, this work was done by one man instead of three.

Many an efficiency expert has done work or accomplished results much more remark-able than this little change, but to do this work and be certain of the results, the efficiency expert spends days in watching workers and collecting data. Then, he often spends weeks in working out details, estimating distances, and time, and calculating kinds of movement.

Such men are just as able as I am, probably much more able to do their work. But, I have learned to use vivid imaging. And so, spending only a few hours in watching people move, I could carry back to my study a vivid image in my mind—an exact mental picture—of just what each employee was required to do, and of how he did it.

I also had a vivid image in my mind of all the useless movements such individuals made. As I sat in my study, I repictured vividly the images of the kitchen, serving room, and dining room. I vividly imaged myself doing the work each one of the employees did.

This vivid imaging took but a few moments—for when one thinks vividly, mind pictures move with lightning-like rapidity. Dreams are usually vivid, and when dreaming, the mind can picture the experiences of years in a few seconds. It is this vivid imagery which brings success quickly.

Every great industry which has ever been made successful, every railroad ever built, every invention ever conceived-resulted from vivid imaging. On the one hand, worlds of ideas—affirmed and visioned—lead only to failure. On the other, every man, who has succeeded greatly, first vividly imaged and idealized that which he intended to do.

Vivid imaging compels you to recognize differences.

Men who become great successes, make decisions because of differences, not because of likenesses !

Think vividly, perceive differences, and. succeed !

Although you train yourself to do your work well,

And plan your work with a purpose, And think of the future, and the profit—Still you are nothing but an economic machine!

And when you wear out, you'll be discarded !

But, idealize yourself and your work, and you become a creative personality, and your value to others will increase—throughout eternity!



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