Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Any Person May Become Great...


I have been re-reading one of my favorite books, The Science of Being Great (1911) by Wallace D. Wattles, and thought I’d share a few thoughts. You’re welcome to engage with these thoughts and share them with others.

One of my favorite speeches was delivered by Booker T. Washington, an African-American educator, author, and adviser to United States Presidents. In the speech, Washington told about his struggle on the path to a life of influence. Born a slave, he worked at a coalmine and provided domestic help early on, then worked as a janitor to fund his education. Following this, Washington became prominent as a leader of the African-American community, and his thrust for black progress through education and entrepreneurship shaped the early years of the American Civil Rights movement.

I have long thought a strong sense of responsibility for one’s success or failure more important than hereditary advantages in the making of great people, and stories like the above serve to reinforce this worldview. History is replete with examples of people who overcame great odds to rise from humble backgrounds – such as Abraham Lincoln, who was almost entirely self-educated and yet became one of America’s greatest Presidents; Andrew Carnegie, who went from destitute immigrant to industrialist and second-richest man in the world; and Oprah Winfrey, who grew from immense poverty to continuing wealth and influence.

Wallace Wattles writes, “nothing was ever in any man that is not in you; no man ever had more spiritual or mental power than you can attain, or did greater things than you can accomplish. You can become what you want to be… You are not barred from attaining greatness by heredity. No matter who or what your ancestors may have been or how unlearned or lowly their station, the upward way is open for you… Poverty is no bar to greatness, for poverty can always be removed”.

You can become what you want to be.

May the road rise with you.

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