When I was bicycling today I came to an extremely long hill. As | went up the hill I felt tired, and so I decided to take a break about halfway up and drink some water. When I got back on my bike I was in too high a gear, spun around a little, lost my balance, and had to put my feet on the ground not to fall off.
Determined not to let it get me down or deter me from my goal, I went back a few paces, got back on, and began riding again. Why am I telling you this story? Because it is a metaphor for this article, one that reminded me of the life requirement of proper use of willpower as we focus our minds on what we want to achieve.
I’ve been reading Napoleon Hill lately. Have you read Think and Grow Rich? If you haven’t, it’s an early 1900s classic self-help book written by a man who interviewed over 500 very successful people and then wrote about how to employ the power of our minds to achieve outstanding results. It’s a bit old-fashioned in the writing style to be sure, but there is something inspiring about this story of Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford. These people, like many people today, seized the moment and the potential for great innovation and literally changed our world for centuries to come.
Napoleon Hill stresses over and over the requirement for a person to be able to get back up on the bike when they fall off, or keep a single-minded focus on their dream even when everything around them appears to say it is impossible. One of the most impressive stories in the book is of his own ability to overcome helplessness when his son was born without ears. Most would have caved under the obvious reality of lack of hearing, especially after x-rays showed that there was no inner ear structure, no obvious relationship to the brain through which hearing might develop. Dreams of a normal life seem dead. Nevertheless he decided that not only would his son hear, but that his current lack of hearing would become his greatest advantage later in life. He proceeded to tell the young child that these dreams would be true. At the end, both sides of the vision did come true. Some hearing developed in the boy so that if people shouted at him he could make sense of it. His parents kept him in regular classrooms so he never felt like his disability required that he be kept apart. Eventually technology caught up with them and a set of headphones was developed that allowed for him to hear within normal voice ranges. Finally, institutions for the deaf employed him as a motivational speaker and he became a leader in that community.
My having difficulty riding up the hill on my bicycle today is a small challenge. Napoleon Hill and his son faced what appeared to be insurmountable challenges. Somewhere in the middle, are those challenges in my life that make me feel really bad and throw me off my game. Perhaps you have something where when it goes wrong, you can’t get it out of your mind? All three of these differently sized challenges are solved by the same skill — that of being able to focus on positive outcomes, create a positive emotional state as a result of that focus, and believe in the results. These three steps open us up to create the exact life we want to live.
I got back up on my bike and made it up the hill. Napoleon Hill and his son overcame great odds and his son went on to hear, speak and become a leader of the deaf community. What challenges are you facing today that may seem insurmountable? Are you collecting positive stories about how people have overcome similar challenges so that you can believe that you will as well? Perhaps you aren’t even approaching a dream because all you see are the challenges that hold you back? This article and others in the Power of Mind series are meant to provoke all of us along paths that are forged to help us get what we want out of life. For me today my perseverance was to continue on a very steep hill — what will you persevere through to get where you want to go?