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He Can Who Thinks He Can

Orison Swett Marden

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He Can Who Thinks He Can is a self-help and new thought book by Orison Swett Marden, first published in 1908. Chapter subjects include happiness, responsiblity, purpose, education, freedom, wealth, luck, and more.

This book has 85 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1908.

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Excerpt from He Can Who Thinks He Can

“I PROMISED my God I would do it.” In September, 1862, when Lincoln issued his preliminary emancipation proclamation, the sublimest act of the nineteenth century, he made this entry in his diary—”I promised-my God I would do it.” Does any one doubt that such a mighty resolution added power to this marvelous man; or that it nerved him to accomplish what he had undertaken? Neither ridicule nor caricature—neither dread of enemies nor desertion of friends,—could shake his indomitable faith in his ability to lead the nation through the greatest struggle in its history.

Napoleon, Bismarck, and all other great achievers had colossal faith in themselves. It doubled, trebled, or even quadrupled the ordinary power of these men. In no other way can we account for the achievements of Luther, Wesley, or Savonarola. Without this sublime faith, this confidence in her mission, how could the simple country maiden, Jeanne d’Arc, have led and controlled the French army? This divine self-confidence multiplied her power a thousandfold, until even the king obeyed her, and she led his stalwart troops as if they were children.

After William Pitt was dismissed from office, he said to the Duke of Devonshire, “I am sure I can save this country, and that nobody else can.” “For eleven weeks,” says Bancroft, “England was without a minister. At length the king and aristocracy recognized Pitt’s ascendency, and yielded to him the reins.”

It was his unbounded confidence in his ability that compelled the recognition and led to the supremacy in England of Benjamin Disraeli, the once despised Jew. He did not quail or lose heart when the hisses and jeers of the British parliament rang in his ears. He sat down amid the jeering members, saying, “You will yet hear me.” He felt within him then the confidence of power that made him prime minister of England, and turned sneers and hisses into admiration and applause.

Much of President Roosevelt’s success has been due to his colossal self-confidence. He believes in Roosevelt, as Napoleon believed in Napoleon. There is nothing timid or half-hearted about our great president. He goes at everything with that gigantic assurance, with that tremendous confidence, which half wins the battle before he begins. It is astonishing how the world makes way for a resolute soul, and how obstacles get out of the path of a determined man who believes in himself. There is no philosophy by which a man can do a thing when he thinks he can’t. What can defeat a strong man who believes in himself and cannot be ridiculed down, talked down, or written down? Poverty cannot dishearten him, misfortune deter him, or hardship turn him a hair’s breadth from his course. Whatever comes, he keeps his eye on the goal and pushes ahead.

What would you think of a young man, ambitious to become a lawyer, who should surround himself with a medical atmosphere and spend his time reading medical books? Do you think he would ever become a great lawyer by following such a course? No, he must put himself in a law atmosphere; go where he can absorb it and be steeped in it until he is attuned to the legal note. He must be so grafted upon the legal tree that he can feel its sap circulating through him.

How long will it take a young man to become successful who puts himself in an atmosphere of failure and remains in it until he is soaked, saturated, with the idea? How long will it take a man who depreciates himself, talks failure, thinks failure, walks like a failure and dresses like a failure; who is always complaining of the insurmountable difficulties in his way, and whose every step is on the road to failure—how long will it take him to arrive at the success goal? Will anyone believe in him or expect him to win?

The majority of failures began to deteriorate by doubting or depreciating themselves, or by losing confidence in their own ability. The moment you harbor doubt and begin to lose faith in yourself, you capitulate to the enemy. Every time you acknowledge weakness, inefficiency, or lack of ability, you weaken your self-confidence, and that is to undermine the very foundation of all achievement.

So long as you carry around a failure atmosphere, and radiate doubt and discouragement, you will be a failure. Turn about face; cut off all the currents of failure thoughts, of discouraged thoughts. Boldly face your goal with a stout heart and a determined endeavor and you will find that things will change for you; but you must see a new world before you can live in it. It is to what you see, to what you believe, to what you struggle incessantly to attain, that you will approximate.

“Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

I know people who have been hunting for months for a situation, because they go into an office with a confession of weakness in their very manner; they show their lack of self-confidence. Their prophecy of failure is in their face, in their bearing. They surrender before the battle begins. They are living witnesses against themselves.

When you ask a man to give you a position, and he reads this language in your face and manner, “Please give me a position; do not kick me out; fate is against me; I am an unlucky dog; I am disheartened; I have lost confidence in myself,” he will only have contempt for you; he will say to himself that you are not a man, to start with, and he will get rid of you as soon as he can.

If you expect to get a position, you must go into an office with the air of a conqueror; you must fling out confidence from yourself before you can convince an employer that you are the man he is looking for. You must show by your very presence that you are a man of force, a man who can do things with vigor, cheerfulness, and enthusiasm.

End of excerpt.

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