Houdini, the greatest of all magicians, when once asked about the rabbit trick, made the remark,
“There is no trick in taking a rabbit from the hat — the real trick is ever getting him in there in the first place!”
We might say the same thing about becoming successful. To become successful under the right circumstances is a very easy and natural existence. The real accomplishment is the creation within an individual of those qualities which generate success.
And so, in this article, let’s take an imaginary journey. On this trip we shall cross three bridges — each bringing us closer to our goal of a happy and successful life.
Before starting our safari there is one principle we should keep paramount in our minds at all times. There is no shortcut to become successful. We must travel the highway that leads over all three bridges. We cannot let impatience convince us that there is a shorter route.
The important thing is that we do not stop even for one second and we keep on moving. Success, itself, is moving toward a goal constantly. The speed of our progress is of minor importance; the most important thing is the direction we have taken — we must stay on the main highway and not to be deviated.
Patience is not an easy virtue. This is the day of the flying clock. The motto of many is hurry, worry, bury.
We have instant coffee and instant tea. But there is no quickie in the field of human development. We don’t explode into success. We grow into it.
If our great-grandfathers missed a stagecoach, they would simply relax until the next one came along. Even our grandfathers, if they failed to make a train’s schedule, would not feel that the world had come to an end. They just caught the train the following day. Not so with us, however. If we miss one section of a revolving door, the whole day is “shot to thunder.” Most of us seem to be trying desperately for membership in the “coronary club.” When our fathers came home from work their first remark usually was, “What’s cooking?” Now with our vast variety of TV dinners and frozen foods that can be prepared almost instantaneously our first remark is usually, “What’s thawing?” Many people have been known to work themselves to death in order to be able to afford labor saving devices. It is claimed by some that the only new sin of the last 300 years is that of impatience.
And now for our journey — there are three bridges to be crossed. None of them is easy. A person must develop within him self certain strengths for each bridge. New and different qualities are required for each crossing. But the traveller will grow strong in the journey and eventually he will arrive at the great dream city of his ambitions and aspirations which we call happiness and success.
Yes, each bridge connects distinct and different phases of a person’s development along the royal road to the promised land.
First, we must cross that initial bridge which we are so loathe to admit even exists, much less accept and consider. It’s the most important of all bridges, if one can be more important than another. It is the connecting link between FEAR and COURAGE.
1. Moving from Fear to Courage
Before beginning our first crossing, we must accept the fact that all of us, if we are normal, at times have fear and apprehension. It is one of the most normal and healthy impulses a person can have. Nature has provided us with this quality as a part of our instinct for self-preservation. Without it, life would have added risks.
This dread of the uncertain expresses itself in all phases of our endeavour The new salesman experiences it when he approaches his prospect, the debutante at her first dance, you and I in any new venture where results are unknown.
But how do we meet this problem? The first and most important thing you have to consider is that COURAGE is not supposed to defeat and over FEAR. We have to understand that it is not a shame to be afraid of something. Something which is a shame is that we do not do anything about our fear. If we understand this we have passed one-half of the first bridge which is not so easy to pass. You do not fail because you have fear and you are afraid. You fail because you do nothing about your fear and you let it prevent you from moving forward. We never, never want to remove the butterflies from our stomachs — we only want to teach these butterflies to fly in formation.
And so again, “How do we meet the problem of FEAR?”
It can easily be met in two ways. First, we must accept the fact that FEAR is born of uncertainty and lack of knowledge. From time immemorial man has feared that which he does not under stand. In the dawn of history thunder and lightening were worshipped and feared because there was no adequate explanation for their existence.
Then doesn’t it seem logical that to rise above fear we should learn all we can about our endeavour Whether we are raising funds for a charity, introducing a product or selling a service, it is all the same. We do not have that courage which enables us to overcome fear and speak with authority unless we are knowledgeable in what we are doing.
Furthermore, we do not have that courage which is born of knowledge if we merely know the “mumbo-jumbo” of our project or job. We must know the “why” behind what we are doing. Would you go out to raise money for a charity without knowing to some extent how the money is to be spent? Would you think of trying to sell a product without being acquainted with the needs it is designed to fill? Unless you know the “why” behind the “what” you are not qualified to meet any problems which might arise and consequently you will not have the necessary knowledge to rise above the fear of the unknown.
A surgeon told a young intern,
“I can give you all the knowledge you need in an hour to take out an appendix, but it will take me four years to teach you what to do if something goes wrong.”
Fear comes from ignorance, and courage comes from knowledge and confidence.
But knowledge and certainty, important as they may be, are not enough alone to carry us across the bridge to COURAGE and will. Every law of physics has a corresponding mental and emotional law. Newton tells us that for every force there must be an opposite and equal force. The corollary to this is that FEAR, to be withstood, must be counter-balanced by an equal emotion. We have to improve our knowledge and understanding to have the opposite and equal force. Then, we can even reverse the balance in a positive way.
The best definition of salesmanship I have ever heard is that it is merely the act of converting people to our way of believing. Unless we have sincere belief and deep conviction in what we are doing, there is, in reality, nothing to which we can convert people. Knowing your product may be the key to a sale, but believing in it unlocks the door.
How much easier would the art of persuasion be for us all if only we realized that people are not convinced by the power of our logic as much as by the depth of our conviction — not as much by our knowledge as by our sincerity. How many times have you said to yourself, “I don’t quite understand all there is to know about it, but if he feels that strongly about it, I am inclined to go along.”
Perhaps the greatest sale any person can ever make is the sale to one’s self of the importance of his endeavour Have you ever heard a person say, “Before I can sell the idea to anyone else, I first want to be sure that I am sold on it myself”? He is only expressing a feeling we all have at times.
If we know our product, service or project, and furthermore if we are sold on its merits, then FEAR will never defeat us; it is counterbalanced and even displaced by COURAGE.
Let’s assume that we have now crossed the first and most important bridge the bridge from FEAR to COURAGE. But as admirable as it is, COURAGE is still many miles away from our final goal of HAPPINESS and SUCCESS in life.
2. Moving from Courage to Confidence
Our next task is to cross the second bridge from COURAGE and determination to CONFIDENCE and experience.
COURAGE is a state of mind but CONFIDENCE is a state of being This transition is more of a Conditioning process than a learning process. It is only perfected through doing rather than knowing. We now must experience things. A person must be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his endeavours to have COURAGE, but he must work and gain experience to have CONFIDENCE.
This CONFIDENCE grows as long as we work and gain more experience. End results alone increase this CONFIDENCE. We may entertain, we may educate, we may inform or we may make friends. But persuading people to act as we desire is the only thing that transports us over this second bridge into the land of CONFIDENCE.
As we cross this second bridge, all doubt has been removed. Our approach to our work or plans is not based on hope or speculation any longer. We know for certain that we can do specific things because we have actually done them. To think we can do something is fine, but to know we can lifts us into an entirely new realm of endeavour — a new plateau of accomplishment.
I am no student of Latin, although I still can recall how I wrestled with it for six semesters during the green years of my life. Furthermore, I am sure that I cannot recall with scholarly accuracy any substantial amount of learning which my poor teachers desperately attempted to pound into me. One sentence did etch itself, however, in my memory. Cicero, in describing Caesar’s army, tells why they always succeed. “Posse quid possum vident.” if my memory does not falter, a liberal translation is, “They can because they know they can.”
Yes, CONFIDENCE and certainty are two of the most powerful weapons we can use. Nothing is better.
Did you ever hear the expression, “The world makes way for the man who acts as though he knows where he is going”? This has always been true.
One instance in my life demonstrated vividly to me the truth of this principle.
I was holding a sales clinic on the West Coast a few years ago. A student of my class was engaged in direct selling. One night after the class had ended, he opened up his heart to me and confessed that unless he could learn how to persuade his prospects to open the door and let him in so that he could tell his story he would find it necessary to seek employment in a salaried job.
As usual, I explained that the only door which is really hard to open is his own door that leads him out to work. He was then instructed that selling the interview is an entirely different sale separate and apart from the service he ‘as selling. Nothing I said touched a vulnerable spot and provoked a responsive note.
Finally, in desperation, I said, “It is now 9:30pm. Take me anywhere in this city and in thirty minutes we shall enter a door and you can make a presentation.”
He eagerly grasped the challenge and in a few minutes we were on our way to one of the better residential sections of the city. As we stopped in front of a large house with a long walkway up to the steps, I would have given $100 if I had not been so boastful. Many of us suffer from “hoof-in-the-mouth” disease, but why did I have to put my foot in my mouth at this particular time when it wasn’t necessary?
As I knocked on the door soundly the butterflies in my stomach were going in all directions. I uttered a silent prayer, “Please, dear God, let them at least fly in formation.”
The door opened about two inches and a lady said, “Yes?”
We had seen the name “Morrow” on the gate as we entered the estate.
I said slowly, politely but authoritatively, “Is Mr. Morrow in?”
“Yes, but he has retired for the night,” came the answer.
“Well, tell him not to hurry. Even if he wants just to put on his bathrobe that’s fine with us. We’ll just wait in the living room, if we may,” I answered while trying to smile and at the same time speak with confidence.
Immediately the door opened and we were led into a sumptuous living room. I could hear the question through the bedroom door given in a sleepy voice, “Who are they?”
The answer came in a loud whisper, “I don’t know but I think they are from the Department of Internal Revenue.”
I’ve never seen a more worried appearance than that which our prospect wore as he entered the room five minutes later. After a very few pleasantries, the counsellor immediately established a climate of urgency and with feeling made a beautiful presentation of the service rendered by his company. He spoke with authority but was careful not to monopolize the conversation. He controlled the situation but did not dominate the interview. So confident was he that he inspired confidence. Although profound in his statements, he prefaced most of them with the magic phrases “many people have found,” “have you considered,” or “I’d suggest.”
My enthusiastic friend left the large house an hour later with a cash sale and renewed confidence. I complimented him sincerely on the masterful job he did after he was finally in the house. Secretly, however, I wondered if he had not been helped by the fact that Mr. Morrow was so grateful he was not facing a tax investigation that he would have bought almost anything. There certainly was never any intention of misleading him as to the purpose of our visit, but the whole approach had been in an atmosphere of polite authority and confidence.
3. Moving from Confidence to Success
When we have actually tasted of a growing volume of accomplishments and know that we can continue to progress, we are then ready for the third and final bridge. The bridge takes us from the land of CONFIDENCE into the green pastures of happiness and SUCCESS. It is a well-deserved land because it is not reached easily. We appreciate it more and enjoy greater security after arriving there because we met many obstacles on the way.
After a person has crossed this third bridge and entered the so-called “Promised Land,” there is a certain calculated risk that he must always take. A man must have the character and self- discipline to withstand success. The great industrialist, Kettering, often said, “Don’t bring me your successes, they weaken me; bring me your failures, they strengthen me.” So often, as we become more and more successful, we are seduced by the attractions of easy living and the rewards of becoming successful and begin to discard those qualities that made us successful.
We’ve heard the old saying, “If you want to destroy a person give him too much too soon in life.”
History is punctuated by outstanding examples of people who reached the top through hard work and great personal sacrifice, only to succumb to the great temptations that are within the easy reach of the successful.
Recently I visited eight branches of a large organization and had occasion to talk with most of the company’s salesmen. It was distressing to find how many had set some kind of sales record during the past few years and were still resting on their laurels in their own minds. These accomplishments, instead of being a challenge to greater achievement, had become, in many instances, an alibi and an excuse for present failure. These accomplishments had become the unhealthy axis around which their whole lives seemed to revolve.
When we determine a goal that can be achieve completely, then we have to stop moving, and so, it will be the end of our growth and the start of our death. Our goals have to be like moving toward the horizon that can never be caught up.
SUCCESS in life brings happiness and is a victory not easily attained. And once reached it must even be won over and over again. It is not easy but in the difficulty lies the opportunity. Its rewards are great but only for those who are brave enough to dream, have faith and expect the best.
It is not correct to define the journey of FEAR to COURAGE — COURAGE to CONFIDENCE — CONFIDENCE to SUCCESS as an easy and simple journey. This journey is full of problems and obstacles. However, if someone is serous enough to move on this road, he will become a strong person finally. We can say of him as the Californians said of the “Forty-Niners,” “They are strong and hardy people because the cowards stayed at home and the weak died on the way.”
Yes, true success lies in the journey, not in the destination; in the struggle, not necessarily in the end result. This principle is illustrated in a beautiful story related to me by a great man whom I loved very much and who passed away years ago.
Said he, “I once had an unusual experience in my travels abroad. I saw a flock of lowland butterflies caught in some strange migratory impulse, flying steadfastly for the great mountains, far above their natural home. In the desperately cold and thinning air of the Himalayan snow, they fell, one by one. But every struggler was still headed indomitably for the high peaks and their little wings beat bravely, even unto death itself.”