Self-Improvement: The Phantom Wall – Earl Nightingale
Have you ever stopped to think about how much more people could have, know, and do if they would only try? When timidity, self-consciousness, and vague memories of past failures all contrive to erect a phantom wall between us and the things we would like to have or do, we need courage to leap or painfully clamher over it and achieve our desires.
“What a new face courage puts on everything! A determined man, by his very attitude and the tone of his voice, puts a stop to defeat and begins to conquer.”
Courage is often a matter of simple logic. Say a boy at a high school prom refrains from asking a girl to dance. He’s afraid she might say “no,” but he hasn’t thought his problem through. By not asking her, he achieves the same result he would if he asked and she said, “no.” The chance-s are excellent she is dying to have someone ask and that she’s not too particular who does the asking. She wants to be seen dancing. But the boy refuses to risk success. The same can be true of success in later life. Men and women rule out the possibility of winning by refusing to risk defeat. They don’t seem to realize that a lack of courage guarantees failure.
I remember a story about a man running toward a broad river. As he reached a dock he increased his speed, and when he came to the end of the dock, he threw himself as far out over the river as he could. He landed in the water about ten feet from the dock, swam back and climbed out. An amazed bystander asked him why he jumped into the river. He answered that a friend of his had bet him a thousand dollars to one that he could not jump across the river—and after a while he just couldn’t stand thinking about those odds without at least trying.
Many things which look impossible from a distance become quite feasible once we muster the courage to make an attempt. There is always a way to reach everything desirable. If the man who tried to jump across the broad river had traveled upstream to its source, he would have found that he could step across it and win his bet.
Emerson said: “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” And he gave a good reason for this when he said: “Fear always springs from ignorance.” And again: “Men suffer all their life long under the foolish superstition that they can be cheated. But it is as impossible for a man to be cheated by anyone but himself as for a thing to be and not to be at the same time.”
Yes, we cheat ourselves of the lives we could know, the things we could accomplish, the things we could have, because we’re afraid to try, to ask. If we but knew ourselves better and the nature of the world, we would fear less and attempt much more. Why not realize your ambition? If you really want it, if it is right, if it will not hurt another, then abandon yourself to it with the attitude and conviction of courage and it will be yours.
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Also published on Medium.