This section is from the book "Applications of Psychology to the Problems of Personal and Business Efficiency", by Warren Hilton. Also available from Amazon: Psychology and Achievement - Applied Psychology 12 Volume Set.
THE exercises here set forth, if faithfully pursued, will strike off the shackles of doubt, despondency, timidity, inattention, indifference, laziness, inertia, distracting influences and wasteful emotions and desires, will release you from the fetters of failure and will give you that full measure of success justified by your native ability.
Despondency, Timidity, Indifference, Inertia
Where the Trouble Lies
If any of these exercises seem too simple, too easy and specific, if you are tempted to regard them as inadequate, we can only say, " You know these procedures are scientifically sound. Try them; the results will amaze and gratify you. Remember the miracles of hypnotic suggestion; the fundamental principle is the same."
Most problems are easily solved if you know just where the trouble lies. One day a friend of mind invited a number of guests to go for a sail with him in his motor-boat on the Sound. When we had reached a point about five miles from shore suddenly the engine gave a few fluttering gasps and "died." After fruitless efforts with a "compressed-air" starter, my friend tried "cranking" the engine in the old-fashioned way. When his arm gave out other men in the party "turned over" the engine until all were exhausted. At the same time spark-plugs were inspected and valves opened and shut until there seemed nothing left to be done but to take the engine apart and put it together again. Meanwhile the ladies shivered and the hours flew by. Finally a passing boat hailed us and the engineer came aboard to help if he could. The first thing he did was to open the gasoline tank. He found it empty. He replenished the tank from a five-gallon can carried in our boat for just such emergencies, and away we went. So it is that the most difficult problem is often the simplest.
In every problem there is a place where the trouble lies. No progress can be made until that spot is found. Effort spent in other ways is wasted. The cause of the difficulty must be found and removed.
Your innate power of accomplishment depends upon the quality and quantity of your psychic energy.
But power of accomplishment is not accomplishment. Capability is not achievement.
Achievement means doing. It means not only the possession of energy, but the liberation of energy. A cord of wood contains a certain number of heat units. But the spark of combustion is needed to set them free.
In all the world of matter inertia reigns supreme. It is mind action, and that alone, that can perform the miracle of overcoming this inertia and releasing stored-up energies.
The Initiative of the Clerk And the mind action that does this must be, and in the very nature of things is, Initiative.
Without initiative the giant is helpless. Without initiative the Napoleon of Business is a man of wood.
Initiative pulls the trigger of muscular discharge.
Initiative is the inevitable source of every manifestation of force.
There are kinds and degrees of initiative.
First, there is the initiative that comes from without. The clerk moves at his master's command.
Second, there is initiative from within - the initiative of ideas, the initiative that arises from an inborn mental impulse, the initiative that is inventive, creative.
Initiative of the first class is the result of motor impulses in the nature of responses to outward sensory stimuli. It is a low order of initiative. It is the initiative of the trout leaping in muscular response to the shimmering of the fly. It is the initiative of the pack-horse obeying the driver's order.
Initiative of the second class comes from within. It is the impellent force of an idea that is vivid, realistic and absorbing. It is the action-producing power of thought complexes forcing their way into every corner of consciousness. This is the initiative of the inventor, the poet, the promoter, the syndicate-head, of all men whose dreams find adequate expression, of all men who build "air-castles" as the first step in the building of castles of steel and stone.
What kind of initiative do you possess?
1. Do you neither see the thing to be done when it is pointed out to you nor act even when told to act? Then, you are no better than a cord of wood.
2. Do you see the thing to be done only when it is pointed out to you and act only when someone tells you what to do? Then, you are but one of untold millions and only a step higher than the faithful pack-horse.
3. Do you see what you ought to do without being told, but either fail to try it or lack the driving force to push it to accomplishment? If so, you are an impractical dreamer. The fact is even your dreams are not clear, definite and dynamic. You do not see what ought to be done here and now, first and most of all. You waste your thoughts on indefinite longings and "glittering generalities."
4. Do you without being told see clearly just what you must do now to succeed, and then do it yourself? Then, you are an enterprising man, a "hustler" and a success, but you are sadly limited in your scope of operations and you will never get very high in the world, since you fail to utilize the most potent means of accomplishment, the activities of others.
5. Do you without being told see clearly just what must be done now for the accomplishment of your purpose, and do you cause it to be done by bending others to your will? Then, you are indeed a master of men and of things, and your measure of achievement will be limited only by the breadth and power of your creative vision.
Someone has said, "The principal obstacle in the way of original thinking is the habit of living in fixed channels, and must be removed at once, because we shall never become any more than we are, so long as we live, think and act according to prescribed rules and preconceived ideas. No growth, no development and no advancement can possibly take place while we live and move in grooves."
Therefore, if your initiative is of the first type, or of any type except the highest, you must make it your business to advance to the next higher type, and so on, step by step, until you shall have reached the seats of the mighty.
If you are on the first level of initiative, you must climb up to the second and be looking ahead to the third, for "to be a follower is to prevent further growth. No mere follower can ever become great, because he is every day becoming smaller."
All things are possible to him who ardently desires.
Therefore, set your soul upon acquiring the highest degree of initiative. Such initiative is inspirational. It breathes into others the living fire of action. It is the unseen force that moves the world.