How to Achieve Greatness | Motivational Leadership Podcast

Welcome to the Inspirational Living Podcast. Today’s reading has been edited and adapted from the book Getting On, by Orison Swett Marden, one of the authors who is featured prominently in our book Evergreen: 50 Inspirational Life Lessons. To learn more about our hardcover book of classic motivational essays, please visit Now, on to our reading.

The leaders of the world (be it in business, science, or the arts) have ever been precedent breakers. Timid people, no matter how able, never make leaders. Fearlessness and originality are characteristic of all leaders of progress. They have no reverence for the old simply because it is old; with them it is always a question of pushing forward, of improving on the past, instead of slavishly copying it.

Men and women who have blazed new paths for civilization have always been precedent breakers. It is ever the individual who believes in their own idea; who can think and act without a crowd to back them; who is not afraid to stand alone; who is bold, original, resourceful; who has the courage to go where others have never been, to do what others have never done, that accomplishes things, that leaves their mark on their times.

Do not be afraid of being original. Do not be a copy of your father, your mother, your grandparents; which would be as foolish as it would be for the violet to try to be a rose. Every person is born to do a certain work. If you try to do some other person’s work, you will be a failure.

Great men and women never copy one another. A master mind cannot be made to fit a pattern or conform to set routine. Every strong person’s achievement is an outgrowth of their individual ideas. What you manufacture or sell, the conduct of your business, the book you write, the picture you paint, the sermon you preach — this is the expression to the world of what was wrapped up inside you, not in someone else.

The imitator ruins their capacity for initiative; they lose their creative power. Their inventiveness and resourcefulness are never developed. Their executive ability — the ability to originate, to do things — is seriously crippled, if not utterly destroyed, by an effort to copy someone else. No human being ever yet made a success in trying to be somebody else, no matter how great or successful that person might be.

Success cannot be successfully copied. It is original; it is self-expression. We are a failure just in proportion as we move away from ourselves. It is not the artist who can faithfully copy Raphael or Monet that will become famous, but the one who can paint a picture that was never before put on canvas. The artist who can express their ideal in their own tints and colors, who can create something entirely new, is the one that will become a master.

Millions of people remain unsuccessful all their lives because they never dare be themselves. They are afraid to take the initiative. They ruin their judgment by not using it, by depending upon others, running to them for advice, and always following the track marked out by someone else. They are mere echoes, trailers. There are ten thousand who can follow to one who can lead. It is the one who can step out of the crowd and do the unusual, the original, the individual thing, that wins.

The person who would succeed today in any marked way must be bold, self-reliant, inventive, original. The world makes way for those with a brilliant idea. They are wanted everywhere. There is little room for leaners, taggers, trailers. The world is Iooking, as never before, for the men and women with original force, who leave the beaten track and push into new fields.



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