How To Overcome Circumstances Which Hinder You
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
WHEN there is a train wreck, the engineers of trains which are scheduled to follow the train which has been wrecked pact wisely. They do not close their eyes and assert that there is no wreck. Neither do they attempt to "plow through" the pile of wreckage. Instead, they switch their trains to other tracks, and even use other railway lines, while wrecking crews are at work clearing away the wreckage.
First, do not deny the existence of things that seem to hinder and oppose you—for, of course, there are circumstances which hinder your success and conditions which op-pose your advancement. Second, do not attempt to plow through circumstances and conditions. Instead, overcome them—that is, "come over them" into success.
The word "circumstance" means "that which encircles," or "that which stands around." Circumstances are always secondary factors. In themselves, they are never an essential part of yourself, or your work, or your surroundings. They are conditions which stand around, somewhere, near you. Hence, you can always find a way of switching around them.
Moreover, you can build your own switch tracks whenever and wherever you please. You can do so instantly. The switching of a plan or act depends upon a change of thought. Man can think a thousand ideas an hour, and establish a hundred switching tracks in a minute. So do not deny that hindrances exist, but recognize that they can NOT prevent you from securing that which you want.
Why should you let circumstances hinder you? Who created them? God, or man? Who maintains and continues them? God, or man? Circumstances are of two kinds : those which are helpful, and those which hinder. All helpful circumstances are created by God; and every circumstance, which seems to hinder you in any effort, is created by man, himself.
Since all hindering circumstances are man-created, they can be overcome by man.
Hence, there is a sane and sensible basis for hope. It is the first step in overcoming. It inspires you to go forward. It saves you from depression and discouragement. It makes you persist in finding a way of switching around hindering circumstances, and lifts you up to overcome them. Cheer-fulness will not kill worry, optimism will not kill pessimism, enthusiasm will not kill indifference—unless sired by hope. Hope comes from within, and is yours on demand. It kills your fear-thought, inspires your forethought, and impels you to action !
Since all circumstances which oppose your success are man-created, they can be overcome by man, and those which hinder you, can be overcome by you!
If you think financial circumstances hinder your success, go after what you lack and get it ! If you think that you are hindered by "No Credit" and "No Financial Backing," find out what they are, and get them!
The word "credit" means faith.
Credit is the faith of man in men. Faith is the basis of all business and of all success. No transaction today is carried on without it. You do not buy a twenty-cent railroad ticket without having faith that the train will take you to your destination called for by the ticket. You do not leave an order at the grocer's without having faith that the grocer will deliver the goods.
Credit is faith. Credit in the business world is man's faith in his fellowmen. Your credit depends upon the faith of men in you ; and this in turn depends on your faith in yourself.
The late Mr. Morgan testified on the witness stand that he had loaned millions of dollars on faith alone, to men of character and faith, who believed in themselves and in their propositions, even though they did not have one penny of security. One day he loaned a million to a man whom he had never seen before, and of whom he had previously known nothing. He loaned that million on faith—on the man's faith in himself.
As lack of credit is due to the lack of true faith, so lack of financial backing is due to lack of a concrete plan. There is a difference. Credit is a spiritual attitude. Financial backing is a material condition. That is the reason a concrete plan is necessary in securing financial backing.
An "idea" is not sufficient.
Insane men have plenty of ideas. If you have a "good idea," work out a concrete plan of how to carry it out. If you do not do so, it shows that you lack the ability to do so, or lack the desire to make the effort to do so. In either case, you should not be given financial backing. But, if you do work out a sane plan of using your idea, have faith in yourself, and dare. Then, there is money to back you !
A story recently published in one of our national magazines is worth a summary here.
A soap salesman, leaving his position in the east because of ill-health, traveled across the continent with his family in a small van drawn by mules. They traveled in this unusual way because he did not have the money to move his family in the usual way, and because he wished several months of outdoor life to regain his health. When he reached the Pacific coast, his cash was reduced to eleven dollars.
While connected with the company in the east, he had taken trade away from a certain western company. So, on arrival, he called on the western manufacturer. To this manufacturer he outlined a detailed plan of how he, the former salesman of the east, could win the soap trade of the west for the western soap company. But, the manufacturer failed to take up the salesman's proposition because the manufacturer lacked vision. He judged the salesman's proposition by the condition of his clothes, which were shabby because of his long mule trip across the continent.
Turned down by this one manufacturer, the soap salesman did not despair. He decided that he needed credit to buy clothes to improve his appearance, before presenting his proposition to another manufacturer. He went to a bank. Its cashier had previously known nothing of the man, but the salesman told his story and told why his proposition had just been turned down. The man's faith in himself and his well worked out plan, won confidence. The bank accepted his note and he left the bank with three hundred dollars in his pocket.
Later, when he wished to finance his own soap company, "He gathered up his literature and credentials and called on the president of another trust company of the town. He saw the president, did not like his looks, and went away without making known his errand. The third banker he felt he could trust. To this man he told his complete plan. `With soy-bean oil, I can undersell any soap that is made.' The president believed him, and the bank gave him the line of credit that he needed."
Hundreds of thousands of men ask for financial backing every day of the year, and fail to get it. This soap salesman succeeded because (1) he presented concrete plans, instead of "good ideas;" (2) he won the confidence of others by his daring in presenting his plans ; and (3) he had the cour age to present them, because of his faith in himself.
Every circumstance is man-made, and it can hinder you only so long as there are lacks within yourself. Failure to "come back" after being "down-and-out" is due to lack of a definite plan, lack of daring, and lack of faith in yourself. These three—a concrete plan of what you want to do, courageous daring to carry it out, and faith in yourself—will overcome any hindering circumstance, whether lack of credit, or position, or friends.
You can overcome lack of influential friends.
Perhaps you have thought that you have failed at times because circumstances were such that you had no opportunity of forming influential friendships. If you have no friends of influence, seek to find the causes. If you lack such friendship, it is proof that you lack character-personality, or that you lack manners, or that your language and voice are at fault.
Your immediate acceptance by people of influence and standing largely depends on your manners, your use of language, and your voice. Remember that tone and action are the only two means by which you convey to others, ideas of your character and of your personality. It is not so much what you know, nor what you can do, which wins friends. It is your manner, the language you use, and your voice!
In our democracy, men and women of influence and position mingle—on the street, in stores and offices, on trains, and on steamships—with people of all classes. If you have not had the social advantage of meeting people of influence, you have had thou-sands of opportunities of coming in contact with them.
Hundreds of shop girls and messenger boys and clerks—people from all walks of life—have attracted the attention of people of influence, have been befriended by them, and have been accepted as true friends. In every such case—and I have known of thousands—the person of influence was first attracted by the deportment or voice of the other person.
You must have had many such experiences as I have had.
I see two young women, or two young men, in a street car or in a subway train. They are well dressed ; their appearance is good ; they seem intelligent. In my mind I accept them—that is, I feel that I should be glad to become acquainted with them, that I would like to have someone introduce us.
Then, one of the girls, or one of the young men, does something which shows such crudeness that my favorable interest vanishes. Or, one of them says something which reveals such commonness of thought, that I find there is no common bond of inter-est. After such a revelation of lack of personality and character, it is very difficult for them to create in me a desire to accept them as friends.
You know how it is with people whom you have seen now and then, even with people whom you have known for some time. You think well of them until they do something or say something which shows vulgarity, crudeness, unkindness, or selfishness, and then, at once, your opinion changes, and you say, "I never thought he'd do such a thing as that."
And more important than all other factors in making a good impression when meeting people for the first time and in continuing the acquaintance of people of influence, are the tones of your voice!
Perhaps nowhere else can you become so convinced of this as on shipboard. On a trans-Atlantic liner, for instance, a thou-sand people are thrown together. At first, most of them are strangers to each other. They are together for only a few days. Yet, lasting friendships are formed, and what is most significant is that those whose voices are full and pleasant, without harsh tones or hard high tones, are at once accepted as people of quality.
Whether known or unknown, I have never found difficulty in meeting anyone, and I know men and women who have found no difficulty in meeting kings or presidents, barons or bankers, dukes or ditch diggers.
If your voice is suave, showing that you consider it a great honor to meet a person of importance, or suggesting that you fear that you may not be accepted as the equal of those whom you think are above you, then you will NOT be accepted as an equal! Your voice will tell others your true opinion of yourself. When your voice says, "I'll do anything to please you, if you will just take notice of me," others will judge you by your opinion of yourself.
On the other hand, if your voice is too bold with assurance, others will recognize the weakness underneath, which you try to cover by use of bold tones, and they will know that you subconsciously feel that you must assume such tones in order to boost up your consciousness of yourself.
So also, if your tone is too highly pitched, others will recognize the mental effort you are making, to make others feel that you are what you want them to think you are. Such a tone always indicates that the person using it realizes he is not what he wishes others to think he is.
But, if your tone is firm yet kindly, strong with the assurance of your own quality, yet not boastful; then, others will know that you are conscious of your divine self, and they will feel that you are used to being accepted as an equal, and they will accept you.
The voice reveals, character and personality more than does any other one of the three means of communication. It is the surest way of meeting people of influence and position, and of winning and holding friends—no matter in what walk of life—providing, of course, that there is character, and personality, behind the voice.
Winning friends of influence depends on manners, language, and voice—but, back of all these, there must be character and personality.
If you have no friends of influence, look to yourself. As soon as you make your manners, language and voice similar to those of people of influence, they will accept you. But, if these factors are lacking, you will often fail to win their friendship, even though you are a genius.
And you can overcome lack of education.
There is one store in the United States which stands out as the great success among department stores. It is the Marshall Field store in Chicago. One of its chief buyers is a man who has had very little education, but, he has trained his eyes and his finger tips. The manager—a few years ago—said to me, "It is true that this buyer cannot spell correctly, and he has probably never read a book through, but when anything comes within the range of his eyes, he sees all that there is to be seen."
"Whenever he feels a piece of goods, there is no need of a salesman talking to him. He knows the quality, the make, and the weave of anything his fingers. touch'. He buys millions of dollars worth of goods a year, and I cannot recall an instance in which he failed to detect a defect in any line of goods, or failed to detect a feature which would be likely to render them unsalable."
There is always a way around hindering circumstances!
Many a man fails because he mistakenly thinks circumstances are such that he lacks the ideas needed to make him a success. Such a circumstance can be overcome by using what you have, to get what you want.
I am reminded of a friend who was born of very poor parents, forty years ago, on a Wisconsin farm. Success to this man meant independence. He wished, above all other things, to be independent personally and financially.
His mother was anxious to have him enter the service of the church, and he began his preparation for the priesthood. But here he found he could not obtain one of the factors he most desired—personal independence.
It would be possible to write an interesting book about his efforts; how he became a bartender, a salesman, a printer's assistant, a writer of advertisements, an editor, an author, etc.
This is what troubled him. When he first planned to become a writer, he felt that the "circumstances" of his life had been so limited that he had experienced nothing important enough to be used as a basis of writing. He had lived in little towns, in little communities in which nothing of importance had happened. He had known nothing big which would form the basis of a story—yet, he succeeded because he used what he had to get what he wanted.
He wanted personal and financial independence. All that he had was his own life. So, he dared to write about that which he did know about himself. Since then, he has edited magazines, written books, and be-come a success financially. He is also personally independent, for he refuses to work for anybody but himself.
I have yet to find—and I have read much of what he has written—anything that he has ever produced which has not been writ-ten in a way which relates to himself. Even the advertisements he has written, picture himself as the buyer. He tells why he buys the articles for which he writes the advertisements, and this method succeeds.
So also, there is no circumstance of seeming lack of materials, which cannot be over-come. Whenever there is lack of a material means, thought which works out a substitute, overcomes the hindrance.
Previously in this lesson, I referred you to a soap salesman who went from the east coast to the west coast. Later, he established himself as a soap maker and won the entire trade of the western section of the United States. He did so by substituting soy-bean oil for the animal fats which had heretofore always been used in making soap. Animal fats were expensive. Soy-bean oil met all the needs and was very cheap.
Even one form or condition of matter can be substituted for another in overcoming circumstances. For example, a man who is now a multi-millionaire, now a very old man, another soap-maker, began life as a worker on the Erie Canal. His first work as a boy was to make soft soap for the laborers to use in washing their hands. He was paid three dollars a week for his work. But, in carting soft soap from one place to another, there was always trouble. Often a barrel slipped and the contents were lost on the ground. So, he set about making a substitute for soft soap. He made the first successful hard soap, and he is a multi-millionaire.
When you think of it, the material progress of the world is the result of substitution as the result of wise visioning. Every new manufactured product is a substitute for something which preceded it. The type-writer is a substitute for the pen. The rail-way train is a substitute for the ox cart. All progress is a matter of substitution.
Wherever there is a lack of material—a condition which seems to obstruct your efforts to succeed—vision some substitute. All opposing material conditions can be overcome by visioning the factor which can be substituted successfully.
Often, however, a business fails because there is a surplus of material. A certain substance must be extracted from other sub-stances, and there is such waste that the whole process becomes financially unsuccessful unless the waste is used. When these waste products are used they are called by-products. Sometimes they become so important that they take the place of the main product.
One of the wise things Mr. Rockefeller did was to vision the possibility of using the waste products of crude petroleum. Kerosene was once the main product of the Standard Oil Company, but now, hundreds of other things are made out of the by-products. In fact, I am reliably informed by men who know, that the Standard Oil Company could now give away all its oil, and yet declare a fair dividend merely from the profits on the sales of its by-products.
Lack of opportunity is lack of vision and nothing else!
If you lock yourself in a room of doubt, double bolt the doors, pull down the window shades, bandage your eyes, stuff cotton. in your ears, why complain because you do not hear opportunity knocking, knocking, at your door, or see it beckoning to you?
What do you expect, anyway?
Do you expect that opportunity will break the lock or kick in the panels? Do you expect opportunity to tear the bandages from your eyes, and pull the cotton from your ears T
Opportunities do await you; and—because of the speed with which things move today—greater changes are taking place each year than formerly took place in a century. Great opportunities come, and come more often, than ever before.
Lack of opportunity is nothing but lack of vision.
Lack of opportunity does not mean that there are no opportunities in the world ; it means that you lack the vision to see, and the daring to grasp, the opportunities which do exist. Lack of luck does not mean that something opposes your efforts; it means that your effort lacks daring in action and efficiency in leadership.
Ten thousand times I have heard : "I have never had the opportunity; luck has always been against me!"
If you feel that luck is against you, I shall not argue with you—but I will help you ! If you think opportunities do not come to you, there are but two things for you to do. First, find out where they are; and second, go to them!
Years ago I learned to read by candle light, and 600,000,000 people in the world still use candles!
When in college, I studied by the light of a kerosene lamp, and 50,000,000 people in the United States still use such lamps!
We've had telephones for fifty years, yet 40,000,000 people in our own country, and 1,000,000,000 others in the world, still have no telephones!
We have had airplanes for twenty years, and not one person in a hundred thousand owns one!
We pay one and a half billion dollars for coal each year, and still let $500,000,000 in value escape up our chimneys!
Man has tilled the ground for centuries; yet we still do not know how to make farming profitablé!
We have heated our homes for a thousand winters, and yet we still swelter in hot weather because no one has yet had vision enough to make a billion or two by cooling our homes and work shops!
Do you vainly imagine that you are waiting for opportunity?
Oh, no ! Opportunity is waiting for you !
As I stood near the Gate of Saint Peter, I saw a perplexed and hesitant soul, a short way down the path.
On earth, he'd been the prince of the party, joyous, jolly, mirthful, loving, considerate— a brother in time of need.
"Why don't you come up," I said, "and ask Saint Peter to let you in? "
"I'm afraid it's no use," he replied, as he turned to go back to earth, " for I've a wart on my nose, and a corn on one little toe! "
But heaven itself had heard, and sent back a welcoming shout:
" What the deuce do we care about your warts and your corns! We want you, and your love, and laughter, and joy, and brotherly compassion!"