Sowing and Reaping by Booker T. Washington

Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast. If you are looking for unique inspirational gifts and fashion, don’t forget to check out our website BookofZen.com for t-shirts, sweatshirts, iPhone cases, coffee mugs, throw pillows, and more. Proceeds help support the production of our podcast. Visit BookofZen.com to learn more.

Today’s reading was edited and adapted from the book Sowing & Reaping, by Booker T. Washington, published in 1900.

What I am about to tell you now is true of all the pursuits of life. We get out of every venture just what we put into it; no more, no less. To attain success we must put forth hard and honest labor. At the back of all success there is hard, persistent labor. There is no royal road — those who think there is always fail. No person ever reaped any success in life who did not sow wisely.

As each person takes up the serious business of life, they must do something — they must labor and wait. In order to reap something, something must be done. Value for value is the real standard of life’s exchange of benefits.

Show me someone who is always grumbling, always finding fault with their condition, never satisfied with their opportunities, and I will show you a person who does not appreciate the opportunities in the environment in which they are to work out their success or failure.

Hard labor is the keynote to success. One of the wisest things Ex-senator B. K. Bruce ever said was that “luck is a fool.” So it is. There is no luck; it is all labor and patience.

Every man and woman who wants to succeed must learn the process of overlapping. That is, no person who wishes to succeed should be afraid of doing just a little more than lies in the direct line of their duty. They must be interested in their work and the ways in which it impacts the lives of others.

No individual lives to themselves alone. You cannot confine yourself to yourself. We are a related creature. We lean one upon the other. When we do this, we establish a feeling of confidence, of appreciation, of helpfulness, in the estimation of our neighbors, which nothing can destroy.

If a person asks you to do a certain thing which is fair and honest, do that thing; not only that, but do more. Combine your force with theirs, and win their undivided confidence. This process of overlapping establishes the greatest happiness, since it creates a community of feeling and interest, without which no person can hope to succeed in any pursuit of life.

“BE mindful of what you attempt to do” is a safe motto (for old and young alike) to adopt as a rule of conduct. Every person should have a definite purpose in life, and have a substantial reason for everything they do.

It is a useless effort for anyone to attempt to do a thing unless they know definitely what they desire to accomplish. By far the greater portion of human wrecks on the highway of life are responsible for their own failures, simply because they started out with no definite end in view; or because such view as they may have had was of the vague sort, which is often worse than no sort.

Success or failure depends very largely upon the side of life we choose. Every person desires to choose either the higher or the lower side of life, and with that choice a determination is made to live for higher or for lower things. It is evident that if a person chooses the higher side of life, and lives up to this choice, they will succeed; but, on the other hand, if they choose the lower side of life they will fail. As Proverbs says, “The way of the transgressor is hard.” There is no escape.

We should always strive to see things from the higher-life point of view. Instead of picking out flaws in other people’s character, and making unjust and uncalled for criticisms upon our neighbors and their work, we should encourage them in order that they may improve. If there is any good in a person, let us seek to find it. The evil will take care of itself.

READ THE ENTIRE ESSAY IN EVEREST: 50 MOTIVATIONAL LIFE LESSONS