Purpose is the Keystone

“Concentration is power. But dispersion is weakness. Destruction is a scattering, while preservation is a uniting process. Things are useful and thoughts are powerful to the degree that their parts are strongly and intelligently concentrated. Having a purpose is to have a highly concentrated thought. All the mental energies are directed to the attainment of an object, and obstacles which intervene between the thinker and the object are, one after another, broken down and overcome.

Purpose is the keystone in the temple of achievement. It binds and holds together in a complete whole that which would otherwise lie scattered and useless. Empty whims, ephemeral fancies, vague desires, and half-hearted resolutions have no place in purpose. In the sustained determination to accomplish, there is an invincible power which swallows up all inferior considerations and marches direct to victory.

All successful men and women are people of purpose. They hold fast to an idea, a project, a plan, and will not let it go. They cherish it, brood upon it, tend and develop it. And when assailed by difficulties, they refuse to be beguiled into surrender. Indeed, the intensity of the purpose increases with the growing magnitude of the obstacles encountered.”

-James Allen

The Great Test Of Character

“The great test of individual character is not struggle, but attainment; not failure, but success; not adversity, but prosperity. When Nature wants to put you through the third degree, she places near you the laurel wreaths of victory. She megaphones to you the world’s plaudits of success. She parades stacks of newspaper clippings and magazine articles with your portrait. She clinks money-bags in your ears, and she tells you confidentially of the world-changing power of your influence. She smiles on you kindly, and then sends you for your test through ‘the dark valley of prosperity.’

Few people pass through it immune; few acquire no perversion of mind; few escape fractures of ideals or new dents in character. But if through it all, you remain just as good and simple and lovable as when you began the trip (remain kind, strong, sympathetic, sincere, and unspoiled), Nature is glad indeed to admit she has found a real individual of character — a great man or woman.

It is called ‘the dark valley of prosperity’ because it, so often, dims the vision to the finer realities of life. In the early stages, in the dimness, you cannot see your old friends as they pass. You become afflicted with peculiar muscle spasm which prevents you from extending your hand to someone no longer necessary to you. You acquire a form of memory impairment which prevents you from remembering past favors, and debts of gratitude, due to those who stood by you in your hours of need. You do not notice your increasing chest expansion.”

-William George Jordan

Make a Start

“When one thinks of the thousands who have succeeded without even a ghost of a chance, we in this glorious age of progress ought to feel ashamed. My friend, are you discouraged? Do you think your lot is hard That times are not like they used to be, or that you have no chance? Let me urge you to stand up in the strength of your own vitality, and resolve with all the power in your being that there will be one more light, one more guide-post, one more successful life; that, if someone has to fail, that someone shall not be you.

There isn’t a profession that hasn’t been glorified by someone who at first was no greater than you. I care not what your occupation may be, you can make such a start, and follow that start with such a future, and such a life, that you will have immortalized your name, and made for yourself a monument that will reach the sky.

Don’t wait until you are a Napoleon before you begin. You might as well wait until you become a skillful swimmer before going into the water. It’s waiting to do something great, or waiting to make up your mind, or waiting to get good and ready, that finds people getting old without a purpose.

All the magnificent conflicts, defeats and victories, and nearly all the preparation, come after the start. The start is the supreme moment-the supreme test of strength.

Thousands are standing on the bank shivering instead of jumping in and becoming warm by their own activity in the water. Thousands never start because they are afraid they can’t make a go of it. Thousands more never start because they don’t see ahead to the reward. And thousands never start because they think they haven’t been offered enough for their services.

One reason is as bad as another. What difference does it make to the dead person whether they were killed intentionally or by accident? What difference does it make why one doesn’t start if they never do?

Are you disheartened? Are you afraid to make a start for fear that you will fail, and your subsequent condition be worse than your first? Such feelings are common to all successful women and men, for they have all had their misgivings at times. But every person has success within themselves, and to start is to win half the battle. A start toward usefulness is a start that no one has ever yet made in vain. Every person and every genius in all history started before they could actually do the thing. We learn by doing, and we learn in no other way.”

-George H. Knox