Chapter - Index
CHAPTER 8 -
THE MASTERY OF PROCRASTINATION
The Seventh Step toward Riches
ACCURATE analysis of over 25,000 men and women who had experienced
failure, disclosed the fact that LACK OF DECISION was near the head
of the list of the 30 major causes of FAILURE. This is no mere statement
of a theory--it is a fact.
PROCRASTINATION, the opposite of DECISION, is a common enemy
which practically every man must conquer.
You will have an opportunity to test your capacity to reach quick
and definite DECISIONS when you finish reading this book, and are
ready to begin putting into ACTION the principles which it describes.
Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes
well beyond the million dollar mark, disclosed the fact that every
one of them had the habit of REACHING DECISIONS PROMPTLY, and of
changing these decisions SLOWLY, if, and when they were changed.
People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the
habit of reaching decisions, IF AT ALL, very slowly, and of changing
these decisions quickly and often.
One of Henry Ford's most outstanding qualities is his habit
of reaching decisions quickly and definitely, and changing them
slowly. This quality is so pronounced in Mr. Ford, that it has given
him the reputation of being obstinate. It was this quality which
prompted Mr. Ford to continue to manufacture his famous Model "T"
(the world's ugliest car), when all of his advisors, and many
of the purchasers of the car, were urging him to change it.
Perhaps, Mr. Ford delayed too long in making the change, but
the other side of the story is, that Mr. Ford's firmness of
decision yielded a huge fortune, before the change in model became
necessary. There is but little doubt that Mr. Ford's habit of
definiteness of decision assumes the proportion of obstinacy, but
this quality is preferable to slowness in reaching decisions and
quickness in changing them.
The majority of people who fail to accumulate money sufficient
for their needs, are, generally, easily influenced by the "opinions"
of others. They permit the newspapers and the "gossiping"
neighbors to do their "thinking" for them. "Opinions"
are the cheapest commodities on earth. Everyone has a flock of opinions
ready to be wished upon anyone who will accept them. If you are
influenced by "opinions" when you reach DECISIONS, you
will not succeed in any undertaking, much less in that of transmuting
YOUR OWN DESIRE into money.
If you are influenced by the opinions of others, you will have
no DESIRE of your own.
Keep your own counsel, when you begin to put into practice the
principles described here, by reaching your own decisions and following
them. Take no one into your confidence, EXCEPT the members of your "Master
Mind" group, and be very sure in your selection of this group,
that you choose ONLY those who will be in COMPLETE SYMPATHY AND
HARMONY WITH YOUR PURPOSE.
Close friends and relatives, while not meaning to do so, often
handicap one through "opinions" and sometimes through
ridicule, which is meant to be humorous. Thousands of men and women
carry inferiority complexes with them all through life, because
some well-meaning, but ignorant person destroyed their confidence
through "opinions" or ridicule.
You have a brain and mind of your own. USE IT, and reach your
own decisions. If you need facts or information from other people,
to enable you to reach decisions, as you probably will in many instances;
acquire these facts or secure the information you need quietly,
without disclosing your purpose.
It is characteristic of people who have but a smattering or a
veneer of knowledge to try to give the impression that they have
much knowledge. Such people generally do TOO MUCH talking, and TOO
LITTLE listening. Keep your eyes and ears wide open--and your mouth
CLOSED, if you wish to acquire the habit of prompt DECISION. Those
who talk too much do little else. If you talk more than you listen,
you not only deprive yourself of many opportunities to accumulate
useful knowledge, but you also disclose your PLANS and PURPOSES
to people who will take great delight in defeating you, because
they envy you.
Remember, also, that every time you open your mouth in the presence
of a person who has an abundance of knowledge, you display to that
person, your exact stock of knowledge, or your LACK of it! Genuine
wisdom is usually conspicuous through modesty and silence.
Keep in mind the fact that every person with whom you associate
is, like yourself, seeking the opportunity to accumulate money.
If you talk about your plans too freely, you may be surprised when
you learn that some other person has beaten you to your goal by
PUTTING INTO ACTION AHEAD OF YOU, the plans of which you talked
Let one of your first decisions be to KEEP A CLOSED MOUTH AND
OPEN EARS AND EYES.
As a reminder to yourself to follow this advice, it will be helpful
if you copy the following epigram in large letters and place it
where you will see it daily.
"TELL THE WORLD WHAT YOU INTEND TO DO, BUT FIRST SHOW IT."
This is the equivalent of saying that "deeds, and not words,
are what count most."
FREEDOM OR DEATH ON A DECISION
The value of decisions depends upon the courage required to render
them. The great decisions, which served as the foundation of civilization,
were reached by assuming great risks, which often meant the possibility
Lincoln's decision to issue his famous Proclamation of Emancipation,
which gave freedom to the colored people of America, was rendered
with full understanding that his act would turn thousands of friends
and political supporters against him. He knew, too, that the carrying
out of that proclamation would mean death to thousands of men on
the battlefield. In the end, it cost Lincoln his life. That required
Socrates' decision to drink the cup of poison, rather than
compromise in his personal belief, was a decision of courage. It
turned Time ahead a thousand years, and gave to people then unborn,
the right to freedom of thought and of speech.
The decision of Gen. Robert E. Lee, when he came to the parting
of the way with the Union, and took up the cause of the South, was
a decision of courage, for he well knew that it might cost him his
own life, that it would surely cost the lives of others.
But, the greatest decision of all time, as far as any American
citizen is concerned, was reached in Philadelphia, July 4, 1776,
when fifty-six men signed their names to a document, which they
well knew would bring freedom to all Americans, or leave every one
of the fifty-six hanging from a gallows!
You have heard of this famous document, but you may not have
drawn from it the great lesson in personal achievement it so plainly
We all remember the date of this momentous decision, but few
of us realize what courage that decision required. We remember our
history, as it was taught; we remember dates, and the names of the
men who fought; we remember Valley Forge, and Yorktown; we remember
George Washington, and Lord Cornwallis. But we know little of the
real forces back of these names, dates, and places. We know still
less of that intangible POWER, which insured us freedom long before
Washington's armies reached Yorktown.
We read the history of the Revolution, and falsely imagine that
George Washington was the Father of our Country, that it was he
who won our freedom, while the truth is--Washington was only an
accessory after the fact, because victory for his armies had been
insured long before Lord Cornwallis surrendered. This is not intended
to rob Washington of any of the glory he so richly merited. Its
purpose, rather, is to give greater attention to the astounding
POWER that was the real cause of his victory.
It is nothing short of tragedy that the writers of history have
missed, entirely, even the slightest reference to the irresistible
POWER, which gave birth and freedom to the nation destined to set
up new standards of independence for all the peoples of the earth.
I say it is a tragedy, because it is the selfsame POWER which must
be used by every individual who surmounts the difficulties of Life,
and forces Life to pay the price asked.
Let us briefly review the events which gave birth to this POWER.
The story begins with an incident in Boston, March 5, 1770. British
soldiers were patroling the streets, by their presence, openly threatening
the citizens. The colonists resented armed men marching in their
midst. They began to express their resentment openly, hurling stones
as well as epithets, at the marching soldiers, until the commanding
officer gave orders, "Fix bayonets. . . . Charge!"
The battle was on. It resulted in the death and injury of many.
The incident aroused such resentment that the Provincial Assembly,
(made up of prominent colonists), called a meeting for the purpose
of taking definite action. Two of the members of that Assembly were,
John Hancock, and Samuel Adams--LONG LIVE THEIR NAMES! They spoke
up courageously, and declared that a move must be made to eject
all British soldiers from Boston.
Remember this--a DECISION, in the minds of two men, might properly
be called the beginning of the freedom which we, of the United States
now enjoy. Remember, too, that the DECISION of these two men called
for FAITH, and COURAGE, because it was dangerous.
Before the Assembly adjourned, Samuel Adams was appointed to
call on the Governor of the Province, Hutchinson, and demand the
withdrawal of the British troops.
The request was granted, the troops were removed from Boston,
but the incident was not closed. It had caused a situation destined
to change the entire trend of civilization. Strange, is it not,
how the great changes, such as the American Revolution, and the
World War, often have their beginnings in circumstances which seem
unimportant? It is interesting, also, to observe that these important
changes usually begin in the form of a DEFINITE DECISION in the
minds of a relatively small number of people. Few of us know the
history of our country well enough to realize that John Hancock,
Samuel Adams, and Richard Henry Lee (of the Province of Virginia)
were the real Fathers of our Country.
Richard Henry Lee became an important factor in this story by
reason of the fact that he and Samuel Adams communicated frequently
(by correspondence), sharing freely their fears and their hopes
concerning the welfare of the people of their Provinces. From this
practice, Adams conceived the idea that a mutual exchange of letters
between the thirteen Colonies might help to bring about the coordination
of effort so badly needed in connection with the solution of their
problems. Two years after the clash with the soldiers in Boston
(March â€™72), Adams presented this idea to the Assembly, in the form
of a motion that a Correspondence Committee be established among
the Colonies, with definitely appointed correspondents in each Colony, "for
the purpose of friendly cooperation for the betterment of the Colonies
of British America."
Mark well this incident! It was the beginning of the organization
of the far-flung POWER destined to give freedom to you, and to me.
The Master Mind had already been organized. It consisted of Adams,
Lee, and Hancock. "I tell you further, that if two of you agree
upon the earth concerning anything for which you ask, it will come
to you from My Father, who is in Heaven."
The Committee of Correspondence was organized. Observe that this
move provided the way for increasing the power of the Master Mind
by adding to it men from all the Colonies. Take notice that this
procedure constituted the first ORGANIZED PLANNING of the disgruntled
In union there is strength! The citizens of the Colonies had
been waging disorganized warfare against the British soldiers, through
incidents similar to the Boston riot, but nothing of benefit had
been accomplished. Their individual grievances had not been consolidated
under one Master Mind. No group of individuals had put their hearts,
minds, souls, and bodies together in one definite DECISION to settle
their difficulty with the British once and for all, until Adams,
Hancock, and Lee got together.
Meanwhile, the British were not idle. They, too, were doing some
PLANNING and "Master-Minding" on their own account, with
the advantage of having back of them money, and organized soldiery.
The Crown appointed Gage to supplant Hutchinson as the Governor
of Massachusetts. One of the new Governor's first acts was to
send a messenger to call on Samuel Adams, for the purpose of endeavoring
to stop his opposition--by FEAR.
We can best understand the spirit of what happened by quoting
the conversation between Col. Fenton, (the messenger sent by Gage),
Col. Fenton: "I have been authorized by Governor Gage, to
assure you, Mr. Adams, that the Governor has been empowered to confer
upon you such benefits as would be satisfactory, [endeavor to win
Adams by promise of bribes], upon the condition that you engage
to cease in your opposition to the measures of the government. It
is the Governor's advice to you, Sir, not to incur the further
displeasure of his majesty. Your conduct has been such as makes
you liable to penalties of an Act of Henry VIII, by which persons
can be sent to England for trial for treason, or misprision of treason,
at the discretion of a governor of a province. But, BY CHANGING
YOUR POLITICAL COURSE, you will not only receive great personal
advantages, but you will make your peace with the King."
Samuel Adams had the choice of two DECISIONS. He could cease
his opposition, and receive personal bribes, or he could CONTINUE,
AND RUN THE RISK OF BEING HANGED!
Clearly, the time had come when Adams was forced to reach instantly,
a DECISION which could have cost his life. The majority of men would
have found it difficult to reach such a decision. The majority would
have sent back an evasive reply, but not Adams! He insisted upon
Col. Fenton's word of honor, that the Colonel would deliver
to the Governor the answer exactly as Adams would give it to him.
Adams' answer, "Then you may tell Governor Gage that
I trust I have long since made my peace with the King of Kings.
No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous
cause of my Country. And, TELL GOVERNOR GAGE IT IS THE ADVICE OF
SAMUEL ADAMS TO HIM, no longer to insult the feelings of an exasperated
Comment as to the character of this man seem unnecessary. It
must be obvious to all who read this astounding message that its
sender possessed loyalty of the highest order. This is important.
(Racketeers and dishonest politicians have prostituted the honor
for which such men as Adams died) .
When Governor Gage received Adams' caustic reply, he flew
into a rage, and issued a proclamation which read, "I do, hereby,
in his majesty's name, offer and promise his most gracious pardon
to all persons who shall forthwith lay down their arms, and return
to the duties of peaceable subjects, excepting only from the benefit
of such pardon, SAMUEL ADAMS AND JOHN HANCOCK, whose offences are
of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration but
that of condign punishment."
As one might say, in modern slang, Adams and Hancock were "on
the spot!" The threat of the irate Governor forced the two
men to reach another DECISION, equally as dangerous. They hurriedly
called a secret meeting of their staunchest followers. (Here the
Master Mind began to take on momentum). After the meeting had been
called to order, Adams locked the door, placed the key in his pocket,
and informed all present that it was imperative that a Congress
of the Colonists be organized, and that NO MAN SHOULD LEAVE THE
ROOM UNTIL THE DECISION FOR SUCH A CONGRESS HAD BEEN REACHED.
Great excitement followed. Some weighed the possible consequences
of such radicalism. (Old Man Fear). Some expressed grave doubt as
to the wisdom of so definite a decision in defiance of the Crown.
Locked in that room were TWO MEN immune to Fear, blind to the possibility
of Failure. Hancock and Adams. Through the influence of their minds,
the others were induced to agree that, through the Correspondence
Committee, arrangements should be made for a meeting of the First
Continental Congress, to be held in Philadelphia, September 5, 1774.
Remember this date. It is more important than July 4, 1776. If
there had been no DECISION to hold a Continental Congress, there
could have been no signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Before the first meeting of the new Congress, another leader,
in a different section of the country was deep in the throes of
publishing a "Summary View of the Rights of British America."
He was Thomas Jefferson, of the Province of Virginia, whose relationship
to Lord Dunmore, (representative of the Crown in Virginia), was
as strained as that of Hancock and Adams with their Governor.
Shortly after his famous Summary of Rights was published, Jefferson
was informed that he was subject to prosecution for high treason
against his majesty's government. Inspired by the threat, one
of Jefferson's colleagues, Patrick Henry, boldly spoke his mind,
concluding his remarks with a sentence which shall remain forever
a classic, "If this be treason, then make the most of it."
It was such men as these who, without power, without authority,
without military strength, without money, sat in solemn consideration
of the destiny of the colonies, beginning at the opening of the
First Continental Congress, and continuing at intervals for two
years--until on June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee arose, addressed
the Chair, and to the startled Assembly made this motion:
"Gentlemen, I make the motion that these United Colonies
are, and of right ought to be free and independent states, that
they be absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that
all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain
is, and ought to be totally dissolved."
Lee's astounding motion was discussed fervently, and at such
length that he began to lose patience. Finally, after days of argument,
he again took the floor, and declared, in a clear, firm voice, "Mr.
President, we have discussed this issue for days. It is the only
course for us to follow. Why, then Sir, do we longer delay? Why
still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic.
Let her arise, not to devastate and to conquer, but to reestablish
the reign of peace, and of law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon
us. She demands of us a living example of freedom, that may exhibit
a contrast, in the felicity of the citizen, to the ever increasing
Before his motion was finally voted upon, Lee was called back
to Virginia, because of serious family illness, but before leaving,
he placed his cause in the hands of his friend, Thomas Jefferson,
who promised to fight until favorable action was taken. Shortly
thereafter the President of the Congress (Hancock), appointed Jefferson
as Chairman of a Committee to draw up a Declaration of Independence.
Long and hard the Committee labored, on a document which would
mean, when accepted by the Congress, that EVERY MAN WHO SIGNED IT,
WOULD BE SIGNING HIS OWN DEATH WARRANT, should the Colonies lose
in the fight with Great Britain, which was sure to follow.
The document was drawn, and on June 28, the original draft was
read before the Congress. For several days it was discussed, altered,
and made ready. On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson stood before the
Assembly, and fearlessly read the most
ever placed upon paper.
"When in the course of human events it is necessary for
one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected
them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth,
the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature, and
of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions
of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel
them to the separation. . . ."
When Jefferson finished, the document was voted upon, accepted,
and signed by the fifty-six men, every one staking his own life
upon his DECISION to write his name. By that DECISION came into
existence a nation destined to bring to mankind forever, the privilege
of making DECISIONS.
By decisions made in a similar spirit of Faith, and only by such
decisions, can men solve their personal problems, and win for themselves
high estates of material and spiritual wealth. Let us not forget
Analyze the events which led to the Declaration of Independence,
and be convinced that this nation, which now holds a position of
commanding respect and power among all nations of the world, was
born of a DECISION created by a Master Mind, consisting of fifty-six
men. Note well, the fact that it was their DECISION which insured
the success of Washington's armies, because the spirit of that
decision was in the heart of every soldier who fought with him,
and served as a spiritual power which recognizes no such thing as
Note, also, (with great personal benefit), that the POWER which
gave this nation its freedom, is the self-same power that must be
used by every individual who becomes self-determining. This POWER
is made up of the principles described in this book. It will not
be difficult to detect, in the story of the Declaration of Independence,
at least six of these principles; DESIRE, DECISION, FAITH, PERSISTENCE,
THE MASTER MIND, and ORGANIZED PLANNING.
Throughout this philosophy will be found the suggestion that
thought, backed by strong DESIRE, has a tendency to transmute itself
into its physical equivalent. Before passing on, I wish to leave
with you the suggestion that one may find in this story, and in
the story of the organization of the United States Steel Corporation,
a perfect description of the method by which thought makes this
In your search for the secret of the method, do not look for
a miracle, because you will not find it. You will find only the
eternal laws of Nature. These laws are available to every person
who has the FAITH and the COURAGE to use them. They may be used
to bring freedom to a nation, or to accumulate riches. There is
no charge save the time necessary to understand and appropriate
Those who reach DECISIONS promptly and definitely, know what
they want, and generally get it. The leaders in every walk of life
DECIDE quickly, and firmly. That is the major reason why they are
leaders. The world has the habit of making room for the man whose
words and actions show that he knows where he is going.
INDECISION is a habit which usually begins in youth. The habit
takes on permanency as the youth goes through graded school, high
school, and even through college, without DEFINITENESS OF PURPOSE.
The major weakness of all educational systems is that they neither
teach nor encourage the habit of DEFINITE DECISION.
It would be beneficial if no college would permit the enrollment
of any student, unless and until the student declared his major
purpose in matriculating. It would be of still greater benefit,
if every student who enters the graded schools were compelled to
accept training in the HABIT OF DECISION, and forced to pass a satisfactory
examination on this subject before being permitted to advance in
The habit of INDECISION acquired because of the deficiencies
of our school systems, goes with the student into the occupation
he chooses . . . IF . . . in fact, he chooses his occupation. Generally,
the youth just out of school seeks any job that can be found. He
takes the first place he finds, because he has fallen into the habit
of INDECISION. Ninety-eight out of every hundred people working
for wages today, are in the positions they hold, because they lacked
the DEFINITENESS OF DECISION to PLAN A DEFINITE POSITION, and the
knowledge of how to choose an employer.
DEFINITENESS OF DECISION always requires courage, sometimes very
great courage. The fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence
staked their lives on the DECISION to affix their signatures to
that document. The person who reaches a DEFINITE DECISION to procure
the particular job, and make life pay the price he asks, does not
stake his life on that decision; he stakes his ECONOMIC FREEDOM.
Financial independence, riches, desirable business and professional
positions are not within reach of the person who neglects or refuses
to EXPECT, PLAN, and DEMAND these things. The person who desires
riches in the same spirit that Samuel Adams desired freedom for
the Colonies, is sure to accumulate wealth.
In the chapter on Organized Planning, you will find complete
instructions for marketing every type of personal services. You
will find also detailed information on how to choose the employer
you prefer, and the particular job you desire. These instructions
will be of no value to you UNLESS YOU DEFINITELY DECIDE to organize
them into a plan of action.
Attribution: THINK and GROW RICH ©
1938, published 1938, by THE RALSTON SOCIETY, Meriden, Conn.
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