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The other day while looking over the Sunday paper, my eyes were instantly drawn to a picture of a graduating class at one of the large universities. I analyzed that picture. The faces on those boys appeared to be uncertain, not uncertain about life or its future, but uncertain as to the place they could take in it. They seemed to be in a quandary. Were they wondering where it would be possible for them to fit in? Were they wondering how to make the most efficient use of their talents and abilities to Tender the best and most useful service?

Not only boys graduating from universities and colleges, but thousands of other people are wondering at all times if they are in the right place. Am I a square peg in a round hole, or am I a round peg in a square hole? Am I making the full use of my talents? Are my abilities being channeled in the right directions? Is there not some occupation or thing that I can do more efficiently? Are my efforts being fully appreciated? These are typical questions people ask themselves. Most every one is seeking to find, or to improve, his place in life. He wants a place in the sun, where his knowledge and skill may be applied with efficiency and where unity, harmony and peace of mind may be enjoyed.

Is there a system or a guide to help people find their true place in life? Is it necessary to stumble hither and yon with no definite objective? After giving this subject much thought, I evolved five steps to help you. Take these five steps and you will be in your place.


If you were going to engage in a business, the first sensible and practical thing to do would be to take a complete inventory. You would survey its present location, inspect the building, make an inventory of the stock, appraise the fixtures, list its assets and tabulate its liabilities. You would quietly analyze these data. You would visualize the business in relation to the customer. You would study his needs and wants, and make provision to supply them. Your chief desire would be to render a good service to the customer and to earn a reasonable profit. You would study also the opportunities of the business, work out methods to improve them, and endeavor to realize and to capitalize on its possibilities.

The same principle applies to you. You are in a sense a merchant, and your business is to merchandise your ability. When you bought this book, it became your silent partner. By using its contents in conjunction with your business, there is no limit to where you can go.

The central location of your ability is in your occupation. It matters not what it is, or where it is located, it has unlimited possibilities for improvement and expansion.

The building from which you operate is your body. It must be maintained and kept in good condition. It must be well fed and well treated. It supplies the energy with which to perform and gives vitality to the ability. It qualifies you to work with efficiency. Keep it in good condition by applying the principles in "How to Double Your Energy."

Your stock of goods represents your thoughts. Are you dishing out negative thoughts to drive the customer away? Are you using positive thoughts to increase the business and to fulfill your desires? Read "It Might Have Been You."

Are you making full use of your stock in the basement? Do you bring it out, let people know what you have? You can draw on your stock in the basement, and make full use of it by reading "Are You Nine-Tenths Under Water?"

Do you observe the customer's needs? Do you concentrate on methods and plans to satisfy those needs? Have you his name listed correctly and can you re-call the last transaction? Do you reason out his wants in advance and contemplate how to take care of them? Do you stir in a little of the Priceless Ingredient every now and then, that he may know your real value and spread your name around among his neighbors? "How to Increase Your Power to Think and to Build," catalogues all these and tells you how to make the wisest use of them.

Do you use the right words in presenting your stock, in order that the customer may have full confidence and a complete knowledge of what you can do for him? "The Key to a Fortune" tells how.

Have you enthusiasm for your business, and can you generate it in yourself, and also in the customer? Read "How to Generate Enthusiasm."

Do you lack faith in your business? Is your stock getting shop-worn and ragged around the edges? Read "The Most Interesting Thing in the World," and watch your business improve.

Are you making the full use of your ideas to improve the stock, stimulate buying interest, and enlarge the business? New ideas about commonplace things often attract attention, and arouse buying interests in the customer. Read "How to Turn Your Ideas into Money."

Are you anxious about the future of your business? Are you concerned about a shortage in stock? Are you uncertain and doubtful about conditions? Is your peace of mind perturbed? Review "How to Make Use of the Present."

Have you inspected your fixtures lately? How about your equipment to display your merchandise? Your speech, voice and manner are the best fixtures you have. A good overhauling will improve them. It will help you to display your stock, and make it easy for the customer to understand and have full confidence in what you say. Review "How to Improve Your Speech, Voice and Manner."

You are a good merchant. You have a wonderful reputation. The Rotary Club wants to know how you do it. You are called upon to make a speech. You can do it. Read "How to Make a Speech."

Do you want more business? Do you want to attract more customers? Do you want people to feel kindly toward you? Do you want to extend your services? "How to Attract and Get What You Want," tells you how to do it.

Is your merchandise on display at all times? Are you exposing it to the greatest number of people, in order to increase the number of customers? The Law of Averages never fails. Read "How the Law of Averages Can Make You Rich."

When you take stock of your ability in the light of this analysis, and use the chapters of this book to coach and guide you, you are going to be a going concern on any corner. You will have an unlimited working capital, and a surplus sufficient to weather any storm. Your place in life will be secure.


The other day I took a walk in the woods. I came to a very beautiful tree. I plucked a leaf from that tree. I observed its form, its size, its color, and also the many lines running through its body. In symmetry and design, no artist could have imitated its beauty. In texture and construction, no sculptor could have approximated its formation. Every line from stem to tip had its place. It was an expression of perfection, the apex of quality. From the same tree, on a near-by limb, I plucked another leaf. On the tree its appearance was identical with the one that I had just examined. As they hung on the tree it was impossible to tell them apart. However, when I put those leaves side by side, and compared them, I instantly discovered a decided difference. Each leaf was perfect, and each one had its own form, size, color, lines and what I call its own leaf-ality. I plucked from the same tree a dozen more leaves and, on close analysis, I found each leaf had its own individuality.

I began to study the tree. Very near was another tree. At close range the general appearance of those two trees was almost the same. I walked a few feet away, and looked at those trees. I discovered a decided contrast in their contour. I examined the limbs, the twigs and the bark of those trees; all bore a striking similarity, and also a striking contrast. The trees, like the leaves from the tree, have an individuality.

The analytical description of the trees and the leaves, establishes one fundamental principle that exemplifies individual self-reliance. Self-reliance be-stows on them the power to draw on, and to absorb all the forces around them with a capacity to fulfill a natural law. The appearance of each tree and each leaf indicates a complete fruition of health, harmony, unity and prosperity.

All animals practice the doctrine of self-reliance. They follow their natural instinct, which is a natural spontaneous impulse of propensity, moving them without reason toward action, essential to their existence, preservation and development. By adhering to this instinct, they are fed, sustained and maintained in their natural habitat, and live a complete and full life.

All birds and fowls follow their natural instinct, and they too are fed, nourished and sustained, maintained and directed in what to do and how to do it.

All things in nature practice and demonstrate the power of self-reliance. To observe the acts of plants, trees, birds, fowl, animals, fish and insects should be an inspiration to every man to practice self-reliance. Observe the lilies of the valley, they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet Solomon in all his glory is not arrayed like one of these. Observe the robin that built a nest in your backyard, as he goes south in November and returns the following spring to his old nest. Observe the homing pigeon being shipped a thousand miles away from his home. When released without compass or chart, he circles a moment, and then makes a beeline back to his home. Observe the salmon returning after years at sea to the exact river in which he was born. Observe a bee five miles away from its hive (equivalent to one thousand miles for a man) returning laden with its pollen. Observe the horse keeping in the road on the darkest night. Observe the bear hibernating. Observe the dog without map, guide or road sign, scenting his way home a thousand miles away. Do not forget the cell from which you sprang. These are only a few examples. The list is infinite. This must prove that God, the Supreme Intelligence of the Universe, works in and through all things, including man.

God knows His business. He makes no mistakes. Everything created by Him has a place, or it would not have been created. You have a place. You are an individual. Your finger prints indicate this. Of all the millions of finger prints on record, no two are alike. Your finger prints distinguish you. You are a complete entity possessed with all the qualities and attributes to unfold into a perfect individual. You can-not imitate another's finger prints, and neither can you ape another's ability. You must rely on your own. You must practice self-reliance.

What is self-reliance? It is relying on your own mental resources, judgment and ability to perform. It is absolute trust in the integrity of your own mind. Integrity is the quality of being complete. It is the independence of individuality and helps you to realize that no part of you can be separated from the whole of you. You have got what it takes at any time or any place. All you have to do is to rely on it. Think, speak and act your latent convictions and they shall be the means to influence all men. Self-reliance is the power to believe in your own thought, and to act as if it were impossible to fail.

Conventional methods and orthodox procedure are excellent guides, but they are very poor teachers. "That which each can do best, none but his Creator can teach him." In the distance I can hear a woodthrush. The loud, clear notes are an exquisite arrangement of tone and pitch blending into the concord of sweet sound. It is music at its source. I pause. The woodthrush never had a lesson in voice culture. It teaches a lesson on self-reliance.

Situations arise from time to time where it is absolutely necessary to practice self-reliance. Conditions must be met on the spot. You must either sink or swim. I encounter many of these situations in selling by telephone. The following one is a good example.

I called a very prosperous wool merchant on the telephone, whom I had never seen. His secretary answered the telephone and she put me through the third degree as to my name, history, pedigree, business qualifications and last, but not least, she wanted to know what I wanted to talk to Mr. Woolman about. I told her my mission point blank. I told her I was calling Mr. Woolman about a life insurance plan. That positive statement of fact connected me with Mr. Woolman. "Is this Mr. J. Edgar Woolman?" I said. "Yes, what about it?" Then with a mellow but firm voice I told my story. Attentively he listened and when I had finished he said, "I am not interested." I accepted his statement. Self-reliance came in and suggested that I could possibly convince him more thoroughly if I knew his date of birth, and submit my plan in the form of a brief. Believing that discretion is the better part of valor, and that a soft word turneth away wrath, I spoke to him very gently and said: "Mr. Woolman, I have never met you, yet I know you are like all other good business men. I know you are naturally a good sport. Therefore, Mr. Woolman, I want you to do me a favor and that favor is simply this: I want you to give me your date of birth." To which he replied, "I do not care to give out my date of birth to a stranger, over the telephone." Self-reliance said: "Mr. Woolman, will you loan me your date of birth for a few days." Laughingly he replied: "August 15, 1875."

In a few days I submitted the plan for Mr. Woolman's consideration. He liked it and as a result of that telephone conversation, using the principle of self-reliance, I sold him a one-hundred-thousand-dollar life-insurance policy.

Man is born with an instinct--the instinct of self-preservation. When he acquired the power of conscious thought, he changed the name of instinct to intuition, but he did not change its source, purpose, quality or power. Intuition may be defined as a quick perception without conscious attention or reason. It is ready knowledge from within, knowledge that is always available to act in an emergency, to thwart a disaster, or to avert a calamity. I like to think of intuition as the trunk-line of communication directly to God. Often hunches present themselves. Sometimes a hunch tells you what to do instantly.

Following a hunch carries me back thirty years ago. I was traveling in the South selling paint and roofing material. In my territory was a purchasing agent who bought for fifty different cotton mills. I called at his office and a young lady took my card in. A minute later she returned and gave me a nickel for my card. A hunch came. I sent another card in with a message that the cards were two for a nickel. I was going down the corridor and the young lady came shouting after me that Mr. Purchasing Agent wanted to see me. I went in. I told him that I was honest and did not want to cheat him. Following a little hunch, I received an order for several carloads of material.

Self-reliance is one of the fundamental principles of existence. It develops character and will help you to perfect yourself, and to perfect yourself is to perfect your place in life. "To reform a nation, to reform a world, no wise man will undertake and all but foolish men know, the only solid and thorough reformation is what each one begins and perfects on himself."

This may be of interest to you. Take a one-dollar bill and turn the green side up. On the left side of this bill you will observe a pyramid, and just above the pyramid is a triangle, or the unfinished part of the pyramid. Look at the eye glowing out of that triangle. It almost speaks. The eye in the triangle represents the All-Seeing and All-Knowing Eye of God. That triangle represents the apex of perfection. Over the triangle is the Latin phrase "Annuit Coeptis." Translated, this means "God looks on with favor."

That triangle symbolizes the individual dignity of man, and recognizes his individual integrity. That is a traditional heritage that guarantees to every American the right to perfect himself in any art, craft, business, profession, science or in any other field of endeavor. He can rise to the top. This traditional heritage is symbolized in the Great Seal of the United States. This means that these individual rights are guaranteed to you by the entire resources of the United States. It is a franchise to encourage everyone to practice self-reliance. This heritage and right should set a man on fire with inspiration. It is a wonderful country where a poor boy can become the head of it.

Always remember what Burroughs, the great naturalist, said about his friend Emerson, the great essayist. "Where he was at all he was all together." It makes the practice of self-reliance a reality.


Have you ever turned on the light in a dark room? It makes a vast difference. Yet nothing has changed. The only thing lacking was light. A little light makes a big difference. It matters not where you are or what you are doing, the minute you light up your consciousness you light up the place around you.

The best way to light up your place in life is to turn on the light of Optimism. Optimism comes from the Latin word "optimus," which means "best." It is looking for the best in everything and every-body.

The optimist is right. The pessimist is right. One sees things in the light. One sees things in the dark. Each is right. They only see things from different points of view. The optimist sees things as they are, and is able to establish their proper relations. The pessimist only sees a small part of things, and is unable to establish their true relationship. The optimist has knowledge enlightened by facts. The pessimist has knowledge but it is dimmed by ignorance. The optimist sees the doughnut, the pessimist sees the hole.

Optimism is thinking straight. It is an excellent vaccine to prevent failure. It is maintaining a sense of equilibrium regardless of what happens. It puts in practice the adage taught by Marcus Aurelius: "Whatever happens at all happens as it should hap-pen."

A man without a penny dropped into a restaurant. He ordered one dozen oysters. He was an optimist. He hoped to find a pearl with which to pay for the oysters. In the last oyster he found a pearl worth one thousand dollars. Does optimism pay?

When you walk toward the light, the shadows are back of you. When you walk away from the light, the shadows are before you. Practice and demonstrate optimism in your affairs. Always walk toward the light and endeavor to encourage others to walk with you. Let your light shine. Trim the wick with kindness, and feed it with the oil of optimism.

Optimism is like digging a hole in the ground, the more you take from it, the larger it gets. You can share it with others, because it is inexhaustible. It is also like a sweet-scented perfume, you cannot spread it around without getting some of it on yourself. Share optimism with others. Be as happy about their success as you are about your own. Never kick a man who is down, or aid the gossip of the town; and if you hear of one gone wrong, think your best to make him strong. Always remember to let your light shine.


"The road is always better than the inns." Maurice Materlinck, famed author of The Blue-bird, says: "To me, these words by the great Spanish writer, Cervantes, mean a way of living. In my younger days, I often aimed too hard to reach some goal, finish some job. 'When this is done,' I'd say, 'I shall find satisfaction and reward.' But later I came to realize that each achievement, like each inn, is only a point along the road. The real goodness of living comes with the journey itself, with the striving and desire to keep moving. I find now that I can look back on my eighty-four years with pleasure and what is even more important, to me, that I can still look to the future with hope and desire. I have learned to take each inn along the way with a traveler's stride-not as a stopping point, but a starting point for some new and better endeavor."

There is nothing permanent in the world but change. Everywhere this law is evident. Everything in nature is always on the move. Movement teaches a great natural law. It tells you to keep on the move. It tells you to keep active. It is more fun to wear out than to rust out. Keep on keeping on. As an old proverb says: "He who tills the soil shall eat." Keep on the move. It is the real way of life. Watch the bees flit from blossom to blossom in search of honey. Observe the ant, consider her ways and be wise. Every cell in your body is active. Everything around you is on the move, so why not you and I?

When you keep on the move, you advance. Grass does not grow under moving feet. Keep on the move and you form good habits. You turn pessimism and defeat into action and achievement. You turn negative thinking and discouragement into positive thoughts of confidence and power. You turn failure into success.


A king was seeking a motto that would act as a panacea for all troubles. He invited all the wise men in his kingdom to offer a motto. Many brilliant ones were submitted and not two were alike. The king analyzed each motto. Each one was given careful thought and consideration. Among those suggested was one that the king selected as the most inclusive panacea for all troubles. It read "And this, too, shall pass away."

This motto is the essence of patience. It denotes calm, endurance, or self-possession. Patience is the capacity to realize that all conditions and situations are only temporary; and if you exercise forbearance and remain cool, calm and collected, the most trying ones will right themselves. Patience teaches us to grin and bear! Trials, tribulations, troubles, obstacles, delays, disappointments and failures are only stalking shadows that instantly disappear in the light of patience. "In your patience possess ye your souls."

Of all the characters in history, there is one that always shines out as a true example of patience-Abraham Lincoln. During a critical period of the Civil War, when the nation was falling apart and everything was going wrong, President Lincoln sent a very important order to his most astute Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton. Secretary Stanton read the order, tore it to pieces, told the messenger that he would not fulfill the order, and that Lincoln was a damned fool for giving it. The message was taken back to Lincoln. "If Stanton called me a damn' fool, then I must be one," said President Lincoln. "I will go over and see him." Throwing his long arms around the shoulders of Secretary Stanton, Mr. Lincoln pleaded with him for cooperation. From that day on Secretary Stanton was Mr. Lincoln's best friend and staunchest supporter. Patience had won the day.

When adverse conditions cross your path, these six lines will console you, and help you to exercise patience.

Sweet are the uses of adversity;

Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;

And this our life exempt from public haunts

Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,

Sermons in stones and good in everything."

Most of us are prone to forget all things must be accomplished by a little at the time. This entails detail. Life is made up of details. It is one thing after another, and no one escapes it. Talking is detail, one word after another. Walking is detail, one step after another. All personal acts and all acts of service entail detail. The house in which you live is a mass of detail constructed in orderly arrangement. This book is a mass of words arranged in detail to present different ideas.

Everything in nature operates in detail. The silent shining of the sun conforms to detail. Ponder on the enormous amount of work it accomplishes. Millions of miles to travel, a complete solar system, including eight planets--Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and our own earth, to heat and light and, with all these vast duties to perform, the sun can still ripen the tomato in the back yard.

It took Leonardo da Vinci over four years to complete "Mona Lisa," the most famous portrait in the world, for which an offer of five million dollars was refused. With untiring patience, da Vinci inserted every detail and captured that fleeting something we call "expression." After four hundred years, this masterpiece of art hangs on the walls of the Louvre, an inspiration to every mortal.

The one way to master detail is to exercise patience. Learn to love it. With the proper attitude, chores are a very pleasant pastime, especially when you realize that everyone else is doing them. Every task begins in detail, and ends in detail. To feel kindly toward detail relieves tension and strain, develops the power to concentrate, and the task is soon completed. Relish detail, and detail loses its sting. Don't mind detail, and detail will mind you. With all your manifold details, exercise patience. It will reward you.

It is estimated that it takes less than seven per cent of a locomotive's power to pull a train of box cars, but that it needs one hundred per cent of a locomotive's power to start the train. The task, the difficulty and the job seem to be in starting. Start something. Take stock of your ability, analyze it, and size up your place in harmony with the chapters in this book. Practice self-reliance, learn to depend and rely on your own ability. It is always where you are, and is instantly available for your use. By all means draw upon it. Let your light shine. Demonstrate optimism. Look for the best and expect the best. It is always present. Keep on the move. Gold is found by those who look for it. It is no farther away from you than the five steps in this chapter. Keep on the move. You will find it. Exercise patience. Trials, tribulations and adverse conditions are only temporary, and patience is a ready solvent to dissolve them. All things come to him who thinks and has patience to wait.

Opportunities are as plentiful as the air you breathe, and also as inexhaustible. They are all around you. Take the five steps in this chapter and convert these opportunities into realities. Achievement is the result of invested effort. "He that loses his life shall find it." Harness your forces, measure your time, marshal your energies, and concentrate your ability on the job at hand. Lose yourself in the affairs, services and needs of others. Make their interest your cause, let the results take care of themselves, and before you know it, your place in life will be secure. You will turn wishbone into backbone. You will crown your efforts with achievement.

Be like the postage stamp, stick to one thing until you get there. You will discover that your place is where you are, and your success is only a by-product of what you are.


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