How Success is Won | Motivation by Bernarr Macfadden

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Today’s reading has been edited and adapted from the book How Success is Won by Bernarr Macfadden, published in 1904.

Life’s greatest hurdles are encountered in our struggle for success. Though there are a few general principles that can be used as a guide, no person can tell another exactly how to succeed. Each one must work out their own salvation in this regard.

The greatest successes are achieved by bringing out individual capacity or talents. Human beings who simply work by rule, who can only transmit that which has been impressed upon them by others, can never attain more than ordinary success. It is by developing one’s personality, by bringing out your individual characteristics, that superior abilities are attainable.

Some say that I have been successful. Early in life I determined to accomplish certain results, and to a limited extent I have succeeded. Even greater successes, I believe, are still in store for me.

I am indebted to no school or college. I was educated in the school of experience. It is there that we learn lessons that are indelibly impressed upon our minds, and this practical knowledge is needed every day of our lives.

There is entirely too much theory in the ordinary methods of preparing human beings to cope with life’s realities. The value of so-called higher education as a means of preparing one for life’s great work is indeed to be questioned, unless it is taken with a full understanding of its deficiencies.

I started with nothing but a strong determination. At first I did not even have health, and because finally I was able to do the work outlined in my early ambitions, my life has been called a success. Many talk of this as though it were unusual. But the greatest successes are always attained by those who must struggle from the lowliest beginnings. It is only by beginning in this manner that you are able to develop the abilities that are essential in the making of a great success.

If one desires to reach the top of a high mountain, you do not attempt to jump to the summit in one leap. You climb slowly, step by step. If your efforts are expended temperately and wisely, your strength increases as you ascend. The difficulties you meet develop the strength, courage, and determination that are needed to cope with the greater difficulties that are to come.

When you start at the bottom, with no backer and no capital, you are in the primary class of that great school of experience. There you have all the opportunities in the world to develop. That practical school called “Experience” sends forth no graduates. The school term never ends. It is continuous from childhood to death, and it is only those who are able to learn its great and valuable lessons who truly succeed.

The whole world is before you. Life is exactly what you make it. If gifted with health and strength, and an ordinary degree of intelligence, you are your own master. You can mold and develop yourself mentally and physically according to your own individual desires.

My message today is sent forth with the hope that it will enthuse you who are struggling at the bottom of the ladder of life, and that it may help you to understand that the greatest rewards are easily within reach of those who are willing to struggle on persistently, with a definite and unswerving aim continuously in view.

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