My life changed because of Norman Vincent Peale
|I read Norman Vincent Peale's, "The Power of Positive Thinking" when I was a junior in high school. Funny thing was, it was published in 1952, the year I was born. The third of 4 boys of Texas cattle ranchers, I was convinced at 17 there had to be more to life than punching cows and working my ass off every day like my old man. My two older brothers were in Vietnam and I knew it was just a year away before they sent me there too. I wasn't even sure at the time if I could afford to go to college, but hoped I could change my future by doing so.
I had hardly got past the first chapter when something started clicking in my mind. Peale pegged me squarely by defining my thinking of self-defeatism. I had spent most of my short life believing little in myself and more towards my short-comings. My situation convinced me what I had was about all there would ever be for me.
Peale didn't just convince me that I had to change my way of thinking, but gave me a whole bunch of guidelines to follow if I wanted to achieve a happy and productive life. The first step was to wake up every morning and read at least 4 long-term goals I set for myself. Mine were to graduate high school with high honors, get a college degree from UT in engineering, get my Professional Engineering certification, and marry someone who looked like Doris Day and acted like my mother. The second step was to go to a mirror and tell myself I am special and can achieve any goal I set for myself. You were to do both also before going to bed at night.
Among many steps Peale wrote about, he knew obstacles would get in my way on my path to accomplish the goals. He had guidelines as to how to get past those road-blocks and how to keep your eyes focused on the finish line. But, to him there was no finish line. Once a goal was completed, you had to set another. And, he insisted you do not wish for things to happen, you have to make them happen. For example, just wishing to go to college wasn't enough. It cost a lot of money my parents didn't have, so I knew I had to get a job that would let me work at night and go to school in the day time. Just prior to graduating from high school, I made a trip to Austin to try to secure a job for the summer. While sitting in a small cafe at the front bar going through the classifieds, two cops came in and sat on the stools to each side of me. We said hello and they noticed I was looking for a job. One asked what kind of job I was looking for and I told him a night job that would allow me to attend college during the day. "Got any convictions and did you ever belong to the Boy Scouts?" I had never even had a traffic ticket and was an Eagle Scout, I told him. He looked at his partner who nodded and the next thing I knew I was standing before the Austin Chief of Police with an offer to join the force. I spent that summer attending the police academy and worked as a patrolman for the next 4 years. The shift was perfect and I never had to borrow a penny to the day I graduated.
My life since 17 has been one goal successfully completed after another. In 1980, with no political experience, I ran against a 4-term incumbent State Representative and defeated him. No one, including my party, thought I had a chance in hell of taking that seat away from a man who was destined to become the next Speaker of the House. I did it by knocking on almost every door in the district that year, asking folks to vote for me. That same year, I found my Doris Day, who to this day outshines my mother in every aspect.
At the age of 67, I take every opportunity to convince young people to follow the guidelines of positive thinking. My three children are all successful as a result of believing in themselves. It is not rocket science. And, it will not work on someone not committed like I was and still am. There will be obstacles that will get in the way of your goals. You just have to get around them and get back on the path. Believe in yourself and know you are special. Set goals and achieve them; then set more. Believe me, life is short and you should complete it happy and fulfilled.
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