The impossible had happened. My first magazine, Napoleon Hill’s Golden Rule Magazine, was not only snatched out of my hand overnight, but its influence that I had built up was temporarily turned as a weapon against me.
Again, man had failed me, and I thought unkind thoughts about man. It was a savage blow to me when I awoke to the realization that there was no truth to the Golden Rule that I had been preaching to thousands of people through the pages of my magazine and in person and had been doing my level best to live as well.
This was the supreme moment of testing.
Had my experience proved my most beloved principle to be false and nothing more than a snare with which to trip the untutored, or was I about to learn a great lesson which would establish the truth and soundness of those principles for the remainder of my life and perhaps throughout eternity?
These were the questions that pressed upon me.
I did not answer them quickly; I could not. I was so stunned that I had to stop and catch my breath. I had been preaching that one could not steal another man’s ideas, or plans, or goods and wares and still prosper. My experience seemed to give the lie to all I had ever written or spoken along this line because the men who stole the child of my heart and brain seemed not only to be prospering with it, but they had actually used it as a means of stopping me from carrying out my plans for worldwide service in the interest of the human race.
Months passed by, and I was unable to turn a wheel. I had been deposed, my magazine had been taken away from me, and my friends seemed to look upon me as a sort of fallen Richard the Lionheart. Some said I would come back stronger and bigger for the experience. Others said I was through. Thus the remarks came and went, but I stood looking on in wonderment, feeling much the same as a person feels who is undergoing a nightmare and so cannot awaken or move as much as a finger.
Literally, I was experiencing a wide-awake nightmare that seemed to hold me firmly within its grasp. My courage was gone. My faith in humanity was all but gone. My love for humanity was weakening. Slowly but surely I was reversing my opinion concerning the highest and best ideals that I had been building for more than a score of years. The passing weeks seemed like an eternity. The days seemed like a whole lifetime.
One day the atmosphere began to clear.
Some cloudy atmospheres usually do clear away. Time is a wonderful healer of wounds. Time cures nearly everything that is sick or ignorant, and most of us are both at times.
During the seventh and greatest failure of my life, I was reduced to greater poverty than any I had ever known before. From a well-furnished home, I was reduced practically overnight to a one-room apartment. Coming as this blow did, just as I was about to lay hold of the pot of gold at my rainbow’s end, it cut a deep and ugly wound in my heart. During this brief testing spell, I was made to kneel in the very dust of poverty and eat the crust of all my past follies. When I had all but given up, the clouds of darkness began to float away as rapidly as they had come.
I stood face to face with one of the most trying tests that ever came to me. Perhaps no human being ever was more severely tried than I was—at least that was the way I felt about it at the time.
The postman had delivered my scant collection of mail. As I opened it, I was watching the pale red sun as it had all but disappeared over the western horizon. To me it was symbolic of that which was about to happen to me, for I saw my sun of hope also setting in the west. I opened the envelope on top, and as I did so, a certificate of deposit fluttered to the floor and fell face upward. It was for twenty-five thousand dollars. For a whole minute I stood with my eyes glued to that bit of paper, wondering if I were not dreaming. I walked over closer to it, picked it up, and read the letter accompanying it.
That money was mine! I could draw it out of the bank at will. Only two slight strings were attached to it, but these strings made it necessary to obligate myself morally to turn my back on everything that I had been preaching about, placing the interest of the people above those of any individual.
The supreme moment of testing had come. Would I accept that money which was ample capital with which to publish my magazine or would I return it and carry on a little longer? These were the first questions that claimed my attention.
Then I heard the ringing of a bell in the region of my heart. This time its sound was more direct. It caused the blood to tingle through my body. With the ringing of the bell came the most direct command that ever registered itself in my consciousness, and that command was accompanied by a chemical change in my brain such as I had never experienced before. It was a positive, startling command, and it brought a message that I could not misunderstand.
Without promise of a reward, it made me return that twenty-five thousand dollars. I hesitated. That bell kept on ringing. My feet seemed glued to the spot. I could not move out of my tracks. Then I reached my decision. I decided to heed that prompting, which no one but a fool could have mistaken.
The instant I reached this conclusion, I looked, and in the approaching twilight, I saw the rainbow’s end. I had at last caught up with it. I saw no pot of gold except the one I was about to send back to the source from which it came, but I found something more precious than all the gold in the world, as I heard a voice that reached me, not through my ears, but through my heart.
And it said: “Standeth God within the shadow of every failure.”
The end of my rainbow brought me the triumph of principle over gold. It gave me a closer communion with the great “Unseen Force” of this universe and new determination to plant the seed of the Golden Rule philosophically in the hearts of millions of other weary travelers who are seeking the end of their rainbow.
In the July 1921 issue of Napoleon Hill’s Magazine, my secretary tells of one of the most dramatic events that followed closely upon my decision not to accept financial help from sources that would in any extent whatsoever control my pen. That incident is only one, each constituting sufficient evidence to convince all but fools that the Golden Rule really works, that the law of compensation is in operation, and that “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Not alone did I get all the capital necessary to carry Napoleon Hill’s Magazine over the beginning period, during which its own revenues were insufficient to publish it, but what is of greater significance—the magazine is growing with rapidity heretofore unknown in the field of similar periodicals. The readers and the public generally have caught the spirit of the work we are doing and they have put the law of increasing returns into operation in our favor.
Now let me summarize the most important lessons I learned in my search for the rainbow’s end. I will not try to mention all the lessons but only the most important ones. I will leave to your own imagination much that you can see without my recounting it here.
First and most important of all, in my search for the rainbow’s end, I found God in every concrete, understandable, and satisfying manifestation, which is quite significant if I found nothing more. All my life I had been somewhat unsettled as to the exact nature of that “Unseen Hand” which directs the affairs of the universe, but my seven turning points on the rainbow trail of life brought me, at last, to a conclusion that satisfies. Whether my conclusion is right or wrong is not of much importance; the main thing is that it satisfies me.
The lessons of importance that I learned are these:
I learned that those whom we consider our enemies are in reality our friends. In the light of all that has happened, I would not begin to go back and undo a single one of these trying experiences with which I met because each one of them brought to me positive evidence of the soundness of the Golden Rule and the existence of the law of compensation, through which we claim our rewards for virtue and pay the penalties for our ignorance.
I learned that time is a friend of all who base their thoughts and actions on truth and justice and that it is the mortal enemy of all who fail to do so, even though the penalty of the reward is often slow in arriving where it is due.
I learned that the only pot of gold worth striving for is that which comes from the satisfaction of knowing that one’s efforts are bringing happiness to others.
One by one I have seen those who are unjust with me cut down by failure. I have lived to see every one of them reduced to failure far beyond anything that they planned against me. The banker whom I mentioned was reduced to poverty; the men who stole my interest in the Betsy Ross Candy Company and tried to destroy my reputation have come down to what looks like permanent failure, one of them living as a convict in a federal prison.
The man who defrauded me out of my one hundred thousand-dollar salary and whom I elevated to wealth and influence has been reduced to poverty and want. At every turn of the road that led finally to my rainbow’s end I saw undisputable evidence to back the Golden Rule philosophy that I am now sending forth through organized effort to hundreds of thousands of people.
Lastly, I have learned to listen for the ringing of the bell that guides me when I come to the crossroads of doubt and hesitancy. I have learned to tap a heretofore unknown source from which I get my promptings when I wish to know which way to turn and what to do, and these promptings have never led me in the wrong direction. As I finish, I see on the walls of my study the portraits of great men whose lives I have tried to emulate. Among them is that immortal Lincoln, from whose rugged, careworn face I seem to see a smile emerging and from whose lips I can all but hear the magic words: “With charity to all and malice toward none.” And deep down in my heart, I hear that mysterious bell ringing, and bellowing it comes once more as I close these lines with the greatest message that ever reached my consciousness: “Standeth God within the shadow of every failure.”
Source: The End of the Rainbow 1922 Commencement Address at Salem College by Napoleon Hill. Republished in Napoleon Hill’s Greatest Speeches.