The Doing Process Which Always Succeeds
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THERE is a process of success. It is a dual process. In the preceding chapter, I presented the mental process which prevents mistakes. In this chapter, I present the doing process which always leads to success.
A process is the way in which a thing is done. There are four different ways : (1) mere doing ; (2) doing with a purpose ; (3) doing which follows a thought-out plan ; and (4) idealized doing which results from vivid imaging.
Any one of the first three ways may result in success, but not one of them is a guarantee of success. In contrast, thinking in vivid images followed by idealized doing always brings .success.
In mines and stores, factories, and offices, there are millions of earnest workers, who have learned to do their work well ; and then, having learned, they drudge and toil but do not succeed. Mere doing never leads to success.
Returning from one of my trips to Europe, I found much work to be done. Within three hours, I had telephoned an agency to send me two stenographers.
One brought four letters from former employers. She had had seventeen years' experience, and her recommendations stated that her work was rapid, exact, neat, and that she was dependable. Each letter emphasized that she was a faithful worker. As her name was Anna, I at once thought of her as "Faithful Anna."
"How much do you wish?" I asked.
"Well—with my experience, I couldn't work for less than $13 a week!"
Of course, I hesitated to employ her, for she had put such a low valuation on her services that it made me doubt her ability. But, I needed someone at once, so I took her on trial.
She took dictation well and transcribed it correctly. But when I asked her to answer some letters which required only routine replies, she replied, "Oh, I wouldn't know what to write."
Later, when I outlined a simple subject and asked her to elaborate it, she replied : "Oh, I don't know anything at all about that!" Yet, she had already been taking dictation on that subject for three days.
And then, one day when her typewriter needed a little adjustment, and I asked her to fix it instead of waiting for a repair man to come, she replied : "Oh, I wouldn't know what to do ; I don't know a thing about a typewriter ! "
And she was sincere ; she didn't. No knowledge of how a typewriter worked, although she had run one for seventeen years !
Anna, the Faithful, was almost forty. She was a faithful machine. She was satisfied merely to continue to do her work well. A machine does that. A machine wears out. So do people who limit their efforts to mere doing. Success is the reward of growth, not of wearing out.
Purposeful doing is one step in advance of mere doing. It is stimulated by a desire to improve, and yet it does not guarantee success.
One young man who had been in the same shipping office from 1910 to 1914, had been advanced to the head of a department. He had had an idea of what to do and of how to make good with the boss. He worked with a purpose. His idea was this: "If I please the boss, he'll advance me." So, with a definite purpose, he schemed and was advanced._
But, after the beginning of the great war, there came to his firm the opportunity of greatly increased trade with Europe. He was chosen for important work, but failed to make good and was discharged within three months.
Having a purpose is not enough for the kind of success you want.
The bank robber has a purpose, and he always succeeds—sooner or later—in being caught. The tramp has a purpose in asking for a "hand out," and he always succeeds in making himself a useless member of society. Even well-intentioned and purposeful doing often fails. You know the "I've-got-an-idea" man. He is enthusiastic and will work with a purpose first on one idea and then on another ; but, it is always some-one else who makes a success of his ideas. Purposeful doing is based upon an idea or a desire, but, it usually fails because it lacks an ideal.
As the man with a purpose often fails, so also many a young man—intelligent, enthusiastic, hard-working and earnest starts in business for himself and fails, even after he has planned and thought out his entire problem. When he begins, he sees success within two or three years at the most. But, in six months, the sheriff may close him up as a failure. Even planned doing—based upon ideas, desires, and thought-out processes—fails unless the process is idealized.
Idealizing the process is more than merely thinking about the process.
Thinking of how to do things has gone on since the world began. Every one—who has earnestly tried to succeed and who has failed-has thought out what he wanted to do and how to do it. Such failures have been caused by lack of idealizing the process.
The process itself must be idealized as well as the result one wishes to attain. It is such an idealized process which makes success certain.
The meaning of the word "ideal" is not limited to moral or spiritual concepts of life. You can form an ideal of a table, of a home, of a bank account, or of the "way of doing" a thing.
An ideal is a mental image of an object, condition, or process, which is conceived to be COMPLETE.
An idea differs from an ideal!
When you have an idea of something it is an idea because it is not complete. It does not include all the factors which should be included. An ideal, however, is complete. It includes all the essential factors. And, since all mental factors are realized only by use of the vivid images of all the senses, an ideal is the result of vivid imaging.
An "ideal" is a complete mental standard of that which you wish to become real.
To "idealize" is to make an idea so complete that you will desire to exert effort to make it a reality.
"Idealization" is the act of completing an idea in this way.
"Idealized doing" embraces : (1) idealizing the end you desire to attain ; and (2) idealizing the process of obtaining it.
Idealizing the process always succeeds.
It is a guarantee of success.
Yet, many a person who has formed a definite ideal of what he wants to do or be fails ! Why? Why do such people fail to attain to their ideals? The answer is clear : such people idealize the end they wish to attain, but they fail to idealize the process of doing what is necessary to attain to the end desired.
I remember two educators. They did not know each other, but I knew both of them from the time they were boys. One was Jim; the other, Charles. Both were determined to become college presidents. The ideal which each wished to attain was definite.
Jim's aim was ideal. The standard he set for himself was a college presidency.
Charles's aim was definite, but he limited it by a material restriction as to the position he desired, and failed to idealize the process of attaining it. Charles was deter-mined to become the president of the college in his home town. His ideal was limited materially — to becoming the one particular president of one particular college in one particular town.
Both Jim and Charles became noted in their college work. Both became college professors.
Jim took one good position after another, always idealizing each position as a leading to the presidency of some renowned college. He succeeded in attaining to his ideal.
Charles, however, kept his eye on that one particular college in his home town. He failed to idealize the different positions which were offered to him, and did not take advantage of such positions, fearing that they would take him too far away from the goal of his particular ideal. There was no reason why Charles should not have become a college president except that he failed to idealize the steps of the process of attaining to what he desired. So, depredating the positions offered, he again and again refused positions which would have led to college presidencies.
Thousands fail to attain to their desires, because in attempting to make their aims definite, they restrict them as to time, or condition.
The ideal of the end you wish to attain should be definite, possible, and worthy. But, if you restrict it, you will probably fail to attain it.
If you are an architect, did you not as a boy, long for the time when you could be a policeman ? If you are a banker, did you not as a by, dream of the time when you would be the locomotive engineer running the train through your village? If you are a minister, did you not as a boy, idealize the circus clown and train to become one ?
You did not attain the restricted ideal which you set up for yourself ; yet, you have attained your unlimited ideal—the ideal of doing something important and being somebody worthwhile. Life teaches one great lesson. When you idealize the process, the ideal you attain seldom comes dressed as you expect it to be dressed. It is always better and greater !
Do not limit your ideal. The impossible of yesterday is the commonplace of today. The impossible of today will be the usual of tomorrow. There is but one limit to that which is possible. It is the limit of the means to be used. Possibilities are never limited by the nature of the problem. If you go to the top of the highest apartment building in Chicago, and shout with all the power of your lungs, you will, by such means fail to communicate with me in New York. But, you fail only because of the means you use, not because of the nature of the problem. The problem is one of communication. Its possibilities are unlimited ; so it is with every problem. Nothing limits you unless you limit the means you use.
Thinking out the process may fail, but idealizing the process will always succeed.
A few years ago, an additional main line subway was opened for use in New York City, and also a cross town shuttle connecting the old subway with the new one. A new routing of passengers was necessary. More than a million people were compelled to learn to travel over new routes.
For days before the new system was put in operation, the newspapers carried columns of descriptions of the new system and how to get from one point to another. Most of the people of New York read the directions before the opening. Hence, they had ideas about the new routes and they thought about them. But, probably not one in a hundred thousand, when he read the directions again and again, idealized the process of using them.
On the day of the opening, intelligent men and women crowded and jammed each other. They went where they did not wish to go. Many who had known New York City all their lives, got lost. The jamming was so great at two transfer stations that women fainted, and so many were seriously hurt that it was necessary to close the cross town subway for a month to prevent accidents, to prevent intelligent people from hurting each other because of their con-fused mob action.
More than a million people lost their heads.
And, all of this confusion, trouble, injury, and delay could have been prevented if they had spent but five minutes in idealizing the process of traveling on the new subways.
I took a description of the routes from a newspaper, and read it carefully. Then I closed my eyes to idealize both the old and the new routes. I idealized myself using the new route from my home to my office. I idealized myself riding on the cars, changing where descriptions explained that changes should be made ; I idealized every bit of the journey to my office door. Then, I idealized one trip after another to other parts of the city, until I had seen myself using every new and every old route of the subways. After this, it was impossible for me to be confused; impossible for me to make a mistake.
Millions of others thought of the new routes, but certainly very few consciously idealized themselves traveling over them. Yet, every individual in New York could have done so in five minutes, if each had been in the habit of idealizing the process of doing things.
The foregoing illustrates what I mean by idealizing the process. It makes the ideal of doing the thing complete in your mind before you actually do it. The success of idealizing the process in creating new things is shown in the first story which follows; and the efficiency of work due to idealizing the process is shown in the second.
Idealizing the process creates inventions.
A hundred years ago the only efficient instrument for cutting hay and grain was the scythe. The actual scythe was a long curved blade attached to a double curved handle. Many had tried to improve this instrument by sticking to their ideas and thoughts of its reality. They devised many different machines with curved blades, two or three times as long as that of the scythe, to be swung by machine power instead of arm power. All these efforts failed, although each of the men had ideas, desires, and thoughts about what he was doing and wanted to do.
Then, one man with an idealizing attitude took up the problem. He no longer thought of the actual instrument used to cut grain. In his mind, he idealized all the different processes of cutting, and all the different instruments which had been used for cutting.
He took the problem out of the realm of reality into the realm of ideality. In his mind, he took all kinds of cutting machines apart, and mentally destroyed their identity as actual machines. Instead of thinking machines, he idealized the process of cutting. When idealizing the process, he found that the scythe would not do at all as the basis of a mowing machine, but that a sliding series of shear blades would work. His invention was successful.
This is more than imagination, visualization, and realization. Others had imagined and visualized the machines they wished to invent. The man who succeeded in inventing the mowing machine succeeded because he idealized the process of cutting.
Although there are scores of ways by which your mind relates images of what to do and how to do it, there is only one way which guarantees success and efficiency.
Vivid imaging is the basis of efficient action.
Immediately following a cyclone in one of the cities of South America, physicians were called here and there, to attend to the injured. So far as I know, all but one responded immediately to the first call. This one—even though people were running to his office, begging him to go at once to this injured person or that one, even though other people over his telephone were beseeching him to come to this or that section of the city—did not leave his office until he had idealized the functional relation of all things, conditions, effects, and places which should or might be connected with what was to be done.
First, he vividly imaged all the different kinds of injuries reported to him, and, in addition, all the possible injuries he might be called upon to treat ;
Second, he vividly imaged all the medicines, antiseptics, instruments, accessories, et cetera, which would be required or which might be required; he also imaged his own supply and the surplus to be obtained at the drug store ;
Third, he vividly imaged what should be done to aid the rapid recovery of those injured—the wisdom of wrapping each in a warm blanket immediately after first aid—as protection from the after-chill of the storm ;
Fourth, he vividly imaged the places at which the most seriously injured were re-ported to be ; imaged himself going from one place to the next by the shortest routes ; and then he repeated the process, imaging in order the places at which the less seriously injured were reported to be.
Then, he began action: (1) he scribbled a list of certain materials he would need ; (2) he ordered his assistant to get such materials at the drug store at the next corner and to stand at the curb so that he might grab them from her hands when he should start out; (3) he telephoned a department store a block beyond the drug store, ordering a clerk to stand in front of the store with fifty blankets; (4) he selected from his operating room every instrument which might be necessary; (5) he ran to his car, drove to the drug store, to the department store, and then on his way to the injured.
As a physician he was no better than many other physicians in the city, but the records show that during the four hours following the cyclone, he attended more than twice as many cases as any other physician in the city, and that not one of those whom he attended suffered subsequently because of chills.
This one hundred per cent increase of cases attended and his one hundred per cent; efficiency in preventing subsequent collapse was the result of the five minutes he spent in idealizing the process of functional relationship of every factor of his plan before beginning to carry it out. He did this in less than five minutes because it had been his practice for years to idealize the process of doing things.
Your ideal of the end you desire to attain is the "star" to which you should hitch your wagon of attainment. But, very much depends upon the way in which you do the hitching.
Idealized doing always succeeds.
Do you use a grammar text to teach a child arithmetic?
Or deliver an oration, to propel a steamship?
Why then, do you ridiculously misuse the means which God has given you?