by Napoleon Hill
This is the seventh in a series of excerpts from Napoleon Hill’s Law of Success.
An after lesson with the Author
Procrastination robs you of opportunity. It is a significant fact that no great leader was ever known to procrastinate. You are fortunate if AMBITION drives you into action, never permitting you to falter or turn back, once you have rendered a DECISION to go forward. Second by second, as the clock ticks off the distance TIME is running a race with YOU. Delay means defeat, because no man may ever make up a second of lost TIME. TIME is a master worker which heals the wounds of failure and disappointment and rights all wrongs and turns all mistakes into capital, but, it favors only those who kill off procrastination and remain in ACTION when decisions are to be made.
Life is a great checker-board. The player opposite you is TIME.
If you hesitate you will be wiped off the board. If you keep moving you may win. The only real capital is TIME, but it is capital only when used.
You may be shocked if you keep an accurate account of the TIME you waste in a single day. Take a look at the picture above if you wish to know the fate of all who play carelessly with TIME.
THE picture at top of the previous page tells a true story of one of the chief causes of FAILURE! One of the players is “TIME” and the other is Mr. Average Man; let us call him YOU.
Move by move Time has wiped off Mr. Average Man’s men until he is finally cornered, where Time will get him, no matter which way he moves. INDECISION has driven him into the corner.
Ask any well-informed salesman and he will tell you that indecision is the outstanding weakness of the majority of people. Every salesman is familiar with that time-worn alibi, “I will think it over,” which is the last trench-line of defense of those who have not the courage to say either yes or no. Like the player in the picture above, they cannot decide which way to move. Meanwhile, Time forces them into a corner where they can’t move.
The great leaders of the world were men and women of quick decision.
General Grant had but little to commend him as an able General except the quality of firm decision, but this was sufficient to offset all of his weaknesses. The whole story of his military success may be gathered from his reply to his critics when he said “We will fight it out along these lines if it takes all summer.”
When Napoleon reached a decision to move his armies in a given direction, he permitted nothing to cause him to change that decision. If his line of march brought his soldiers to a ditch, dug by his opponents to stop him, he would give the order to charge the ditch until it had been filled with dead men and horses sufficient to bridge it.
The suspense of indecision drives millions of people to failure. A condemned man once said that the thought of his approaching execution was not so terrifying, once he had reached the decision in his own mind to accept the inevitable.
Lack of decision is the chief stumbling block of all revival meeting workers. Their entire work is to get men and women to reach a decision in their own minds to accept a given religious tenet. Billy Sunday once said, “Indecision is the devil’s favorite tool.”
Andrew Carnegie visualized a great steel industry, but that industry would not be what it is today had he not reached a decision in his own mind to transform his vision into reality.
James J. Hill saw, in his mind’s eye, a great transcontinental railway system, but that railroad never would have become a reality had he not reached a decision to start the project.
Imagination, alone, is not enough to ensure success.
Millions of people have imagination and build plans that would easily bring them both fame and fortune, but those plans never reach the DECISION stage.
Walt Disney was a Chicago commercial artist who was clearly on the road to success in his chosen field when he had a vision—and made a decision. He headed west and turned his imagination loose—combined with the firm decision that he was going to create a whole new form of entertainment. The rest is history, millions of Disneyland and Disneyworld visitors will agree.
Demosthenes was a poor Greek lad who had a strong desire to be a great public speaker. Nothing unusual about that; others have “desired” this and similar ability without living to see their desires realized. But, Demosthenes added DECISION to DESIRE, and, despite the fact that he was a stammerer he made himself one of the great orators of the world.
Martin W. Littleton was a poor lad who never saw the inside of a schoolhouse until he was past twelve years of age. His father took him to hear a great lawyer defend a murderer, in one of the southern cities. The speech made such a profound impression on the lad’s mind that he grabbed his father by the hand and said, “Father, one of these days I am going to become the ablest lawyer in America.”
Today Martin W. Littleton accepts no fee under $50,000.00, and it is said that he is kept busy all the time. He became an able lawyer because he reached a DECISION to do so.
Edwin C. Barnes reached a DECISION in his own mind to become the partner of Thomas A. Edison. Handicapped by lack of schooling, without money to pay his railroad fare, and with no influential friends to introduce him to Mr. Edison, young Barnes made his way to East Orange on a freight car and so thoroughly sold himself to Mr. Edison that he got his opportunity which led to a partnership. Today, just twenty years since that decision was reached, Mr. Barnes lives at Bradenton, Florida, retired, with all the money he needs.
Men of decision usually get all that they go after!
Well within the memory of this writer a little group of men met at Westerville, Ohio, and organized what they called the Anti-Saloon League. Saloon men treated them as a joke. People, generally, made fun of them. But, they had reached a decision.
That decision was so pronounced that it finally drove the powerful saloon men into the corner and resulted in Prohibition.
William Wrigley, Jr., reached a decision to devote his entire business career to the manufacture and sale of a five-cent package of chewing gum. His decision brought him financial returns running into millions.
Henry Ford reached a decision to manufacture and sell a popular priced automobile that would be within the means of all who wished to own it. That decision made Ford one of the most powerful men on earth and brought travel opportunity to millions.
All these men had two outstanding qualities: A DEFINITE PURPOSE and a firm DECISION to transform that purpose into reality.
The man of DECISION gets that which he goes after, no matter how long it takes, or how difficult the task. An able salesman wanted to meet a Cleveland banker. The banker would not see him. One morning this salesman waited near the banker’s house until he saw him get into his automobile and start downtown. Watching his opportunity, the salesman grove his own automobile into the banker’s, causing slight damage to the automobile. Alighting from his own car, he handed the banker his card, expressed regret on account of the damage done, but promised the banker a new car exactly like the one that had been damaged. That afternoon a new car was delivered to the banker, and out of that transaction grew a friendship that terminated, finally, in a business partnership which still exists.
The man of DECISION cannot be stopped!
The man of INDECISION cannot be started! Take your own choice.
“Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the Gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghosts of shores;
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said: `Now must we pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone.
Brave Adm’r’l, speak; what shall I say?’
Why, say: “Sail on and on!” “‘
When Columbus began his famous voyage he made one of the most far-reaching DECISIONS in the history of mankind. Had he not remained firm on that decision the freedom of America, as we know it today, would never have been known.
Take notice of those about you and observe this significant fact—THAT THE SUCCESSFUL MEN AND WOMEN ARE THOSE WHO REACH DECISIONS QUICKLY AND THEN STAND FIRMLY BY THOSE DECISIONS AFTER THEY ARE MADE.
If you are one of those who make up their minds today and change them again tomorrow you are doomed to failure. If you are not sure which way to move it is better to shut your eyes and move in the dark than to remain still and make no move at all.
The world will forgive you if you make mistakes, but it will never forgive you if you make no DECISIONS, because it will never hear of you outside of the community in which you live.
No matter who you are or what may be your lifework, you are playing checkers with TIME! It is always your next move. Move with quick DECISION and Time will favor you. Stand still and Time will wipe you off the board.
You cannot always make the right move, but, if you make enough moves you may take advantage of the law of averages and pile up a creditable score before the great game of LIFE is ended.
Source: Law of Success