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Chapter 15 Idealized things make fortunes

In whatever you are doing and in whatever you hope to do and attain, it is necessary to deal with three factors: things, words and people. In fact, when you come to think of it, there is nothing else with which you can deal. Consequently, idealizing the process of attaining what you want includes idealizing the things with which you work or the things you are to handle; and often great fortunes are made from idealizing little things and great failures result from non-idealization of things, big or little. Here are the experiences of two men illustrating the point.

It was on the train speeding across the State of New York toward Chicago. I had left the dining car, gone to the Club car and, observing that the seats about one of the card tables were empty, sat down there so that I might be alone to read. Men were coming in from dinner and soon a man took a seat across the table. I looked up to determine whether others were with him and, if so, whether they might not wish the table for card playing. But he was alone. He had a fine face, clean, clear-cut; evidently a man of education; perhaps, a man of culture. His face, his bearing, his attitude all proclaimed him to be a “man of ideals.” I do not mean a visionary, but a man who does and who has always done that which is right and who refuses and has refused to do that which is wrong.

In a minute we were in conversation. It started regarding the high cost of living. It went from one thing to another. He was communicative and it was not long before he mentioned that he had wished this year to send his boy to college but he had been unable to do so because he could not afford it. "A college education costs four times as much today as it did when I went to college," he said.

The first point I wish you to remember is this: he could not afford to send his son to college. I led him on in the conversation, learned that after graduating from college he had been a school teacher; that later he had been in Y. M. C. A. work; a welfare worker in a manufacturing plant for a year; and that in 1913, he, with a friend, had gone into a manufacturing business of his own. "What line of manufacturing? " I asked. "Oh, just little wicker hand satchels, such as boys use to carry books to and from school," he answered. This is the second point I wish you to remember: "Oh, just little wicker hand satchels."

This conversation took place in the year 1920. It indicates that after having been in business seven years, manufacturing an article of use to at least ten million school children as well as hundreds of thousands of others in our country, this “man of ideals” was unable to send his boy to college because he could not afford it. We talked of other things; but before long he left me, going back to his private car. Two other men came in and sat down. One across the table, one beside me. Later I learned that one was a coal operator of Indiana, and the other, -well, the rest of the story concerns the other man.

One look at this man told me he was not a so-called “man of ideals,” -that is, not in accord with the ordinary use of the term. He looked very prosperous; he was talkative -men are always more communicative after dinner, smoking a good cigar, on a train with nothing else to do. This man is the soap-dye king of the world. Only a few years ago he and a friend, his wife and his friend's wife, started in business making soap-dyes. Altogether they had $800. Today each of them is more than a millionaire. Their soap-dyes sell for ten cents a package, yet they do a business of many hundred thousand dollars a month. They secured the original patent and consequently, in addition to the profits they make from their own concern, they are paid royalties by all other soap-dye companies. How did he do it? I have said that he is not a man of ideals. That statement is both true and not true. He is not a man of ideals of the Pharisee kind, but he is a man who idealizes the thing with which he works. To him the soap-dye is one of the great inventions of the age. His face glowed as he told about it; his eyes shone.

"Think what it means," he said, "for every woman in the land -in fact, all over the world, for now we're selling soap-dyes to Europe, Australia, India and Japan -to be able in two minutes to change the color of her shirtwaist, of a piece of lace, or any light trimming merely by dipping it in our dye, without any boiling, and without staining her hands."

From the very beginning he had idealized the thing he produced. He had idealized the soap in order to select the best for the purpose. He had idealized the dyes so as to produce the most useful dye, the most easily and quickly used dye, -a dye needing no boiling, a dye that does not stain the hands of those using it. He had idealized the chemicals used in the process of making the dye, and, as he talked of how he had built up the business, I saw that he had even idealized the kind of chemical expert he wanted and had then searched the United States until he found the man that fitted his ideal. He had idealized justice and had secured patent rights for himself and those who had worked for him.

His process of idealizing the thing -the soap-dye -did not stop when he had put a good product on the market and when that product had earned him millions of dollars. He told me how that very afternoon he had spent three hours with Japanese girls in New York to prove his soap-dyes would not stain the hands of the Japanese women. He had done this because reports had come from Japan that the dyes did stain the hands of Japanese girls.

He began his work by idealizing the thing he intended to manufacture; he had idealized the thing every day since he first conceived it; and he is still idealizing that same thing. Is it any wonder that his face glows, that his eyes shine, that his tone is enthusiastic and that he is making millions? He is not a so-called “man of ideals,” but he puts idealizing into action. He idealizes everything, even common labor; he was actually happy telling me that he and his wife made the first dyes in their own home in stew pots and dish-pans and that, while he was making the boxes in which to ship the dyes, his wife was out peddling them. He has idealized the service the dyes render to millions of women and the just rewards to himself. Consequently, he is successful. He is worth millions, made in less than four years; he was able to send his two boys to college.

There are Pharisees today as there were in Christ's time. What value are your ideals unless you use them? The great master has said that unless we use the talents we have even that which we have shall be taken away. It is not holding ideals that makes desires come true. It is using ideals. The first step is to idealize the thing with which you are working.


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