Man is not the largest physical creature in the world, yet he has dominion over the earth, and all things in it. God gave this dominion to man through Mind and the conscious ability to form ideas. The capacity to form ideas gave man the ability to reason. The activity of reason gave man the power to control. Through control man became the Master. Since he is the Master and has this control, he should exercise his intelligence to establish dominion over himself, and not act as an accident in the world.
On the wings of his imagination, man is able to fly around, and make an investigation of things both material and immaterial. He flies around among the planets in the solar system, stars in the different stellar systems, and even makes a speculative investigation of the Universe, and his relationship to it.
His intellect is capable of reviewing himself and his own achievements, and also of contemplating the cause and source of his own creation. Man, through his imagination and acquired knowledge, discovers and explores the physical laws, and harnesses these laws and puts them in service for his comfort and convenience. With his vast capacity to know and to understand, Man fails to turn the spotlight on himself. He gets acquainted with everything but himself. This he leaves to the "isms," "ics," "ties," "ious," and permits ignorance and superstition to control them. Once man applies the same knowledge and science to himself that he applies to physical things, human misery and poverty will be a thing of the past.
In the so-called busy world the tendency is to lose sight of the individual man. Most of us are thing-minded and lose sight of the man in the thing. Everything that man creates has its origin in Mind. It is an invisible idea before it is a tangible thing. It is a thought, then a product. The ability is Mind in action to create, invent and build all things.
Speaking of losing sight of the individual man reminds me of the time when the Professor of Astronomy at the University of Virginia was showing me through the Astronomical Observatory. In this observatory were charts, maps, globes, atlases, pictures and diagrams, portraying a complete and comprehensive panorama of our solar system, and other stellar systems. In describing the infinite magnitude of these great systems, the Professor turned to me and said: "And to think of all these worlds upon worlds without end, and their infinite magnitude, and then to compare them to the little thing we call 'man.' "
"Yes," I said, "Professor, that's true, but do not forget or lose sight of the fact that the astronomer is still a 'little man.' " He looked at me dumfounded and rushed over and grabbed me by the hand and said: "Mr. Prevette, that is the greatest appraisal, the greatest estimation, the greatest contribution to man that it has been my good fortune to hear, and I thank you for it."
Man is the joint heir to a Consciousness that is common to all men. It furnishes the means and supplies the method through which ideas are communicated, otherwise it would be impossible for us to understand each other. This Consciousness is infinite, ideas are inexhaustible, and the ability to harness the two is only limited by its own estimation.
What is ability? Ability is the capacity to act, the quality or state of being able. It is the power to perform, whether physical, moral, intellectual or legal.
The ability of the average man may be compared to an iceberg: about nine-tenth of it is under water. Professor William James, the eminent and renowned psychologist, estimated that the average man uses only ten per cent of his real ability, while the other ninety percent is latent. Latent ability is potential power, and can be released by the proper encouragement and the proper treatment. The might and power of ability feeds on its own achievement, and when inspired it permeates the whole consciousness with a synchronized responsiveness and any art, craft or business is performed efficiently, and enjoyed freely. A superior service is rendered and a larger income is earned.
Ability cannot be developed all at once. It is like building a house. One brick must be laid at a time. Most people want to begin with the house instead of with the bricks. Things are not built as a whole, but in parts, and each part must be built. The same principle applies to ability. You must build a little each day. Suppose that you develop three sentences each day on the improvement of yourself, a profession, craft or business. At the end of one year you will have a total of eleven hundred sentences, and at the end of four years enough material for a book. This can be accomplished in fifteen minutes each day. A little built each day is amazing in its results.
The ability of man is versatile. One year his ability expressed in labor and art is transforming material into implements of destruction. The next year using the same kind of material, and the same ability with a change of method, he is transforming material into implements of comfort. Either of these performances requires an application of ability. Application turns the ability toward the transformation of some material into a useful service, or to illustrate some idea in the form of a plan. The precious fruit of application ripens in the mind itself to establish an experience, wherein idleness, vague and uncertain tendencies prevail. The ability enlightens and enlarges itself through its own application.
A party of explorers was driven by a storm from the Amazon River far out into the Atlantic Ocean. They had no fresh water aboard, and for days they drifted, suffering untold agony from thirst. They almost perished for the lack of fresh water.
To the great delight of all aboard, a ship finally hove in sight. They signaled it frantically to come near, and asked for fresh water. The captain signaled back: "Let down your buckets. There is fresh water all around you."
The explorers were not aware that the Amazon River remains fresh more than a hundred miles out to sea. These men were drifting in a body of fresh water and were almost perishing from thirst. Many people are like these explorers. In the midst of plenty, a world overflowing with abundance, they are begging for opportunities. Opportunities are as plentiful as the air. They are all around you. Let down your buckets and draw on that inexhaustible ocean of latent ability.
The application of what you know reveals many things you do not know. "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." Application puts this principle of the Bible in operation. Application of ability is like steam to a locomotive. It draws into action all the mechanism and channels it into power.
Therefore, the first way to develop ability is Application.
The second way to develop ability is to lay down a Challenge.
In analyzing those individuals who have made a phenomenal success, we find that it was not the result of elaborate education, or of specialized training. On the contrary, most of these individuals had little formal education and none of them was trained for leadership. What is the secret behind such phenomenal success? These individuals had one quality in common--the daring ability to start something. They challenged their own ability. They dared to think for themselves. They determined to do something and to rely on their own. With confidence engendered by action, they drew on their own ability to do things others thought impossible. They did not know they could not do it, so they went ahead and did it.
In preparing this book, I was challenged. My wife and children dared me to write it. I thought it was an opportunity to share a few ideas with others. I accepted the challenge, and even though my field is not journalism, this is my second book and a third is on the way.
Pasteur, who gave more knowledge for the preservation of health than any other man, was not a physician. Whitney, the man who invented the cotton gin, was a school teacher in Connecticut, far away from the fields of cotton. John D. Rockefeller was a clerk in a produce house. Andrew Carnegie was a bobbin boy. Thomas A. Edison was a newsboy. Henry Ford was an electrical mechanic. Benjamin Franklin was a printer's apprentice. Morse of telegraphic fame was a portrait painter. Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was a teacher of sound. Eastman, the Kodak king, was a bank clerk.
Men who blaze new trails, charter new routes, pioneer new methods, make new discoveries and invent new things are men who dare to do things that can't be done.
While others falter, they go forward. Seek, search, and things shall be revealed, even the innermost things of perfection. A man does not need pull. He needs to think. A challenge to dare, an incentive to undertake, and an urge to begin turns most things into a blessing. He who dares to think stands secure in the majesty of his own might.
The third way to develop ability is to Organize.
Ability is personal and only you can develop it. Only you can raise all or a part of the hidden nine-tenths. Organize your present qualities and attributes. Be fair, but strict. Be true to yourself and you cannot be false to others.
The following pattern is a suggestion for organization.
HOW TO ORGANIZE
Put down on paper a list of all your past achievements, regardless of their importance. Analyze each one and try to visualize improvement. A review of past performances conjures courage to attempt other projects. Some of your best achievements have been spontaneous with little or no preparation. This may be a clue to your real power, and an incentive to develop your natural talents.
Make a list of your personal attributes and qualities. It may assist you to answer the following questions: What is my attitude toward myself, toward people, toward God, toward my neighbor, and toward my job? Do I think and act positive? Am I tolerant and considerate to other people? Do I honestly respect the rights and opinions of others? Do I interrupt while others are speaking? Do I tell my affairs to everyone I meet? Do I practice the Golden Rule? Do I permit the whims and fancies of misfortune to deter real issues? Do I realize that little issues may be big ones? Do I monopolize the conversation with a big "I" and a little "you"? Am I arrogant and impudent? Am I honest with myself? Am I persistent and progressive, without being offensive? Am I blown around from opinion to opinion, like a thistle in a windstorm? Do I cultivate habits that make me strong physically, mentally and spiritually? Do I have confidence in my ability? Do I dare to think for myself? Do I dread to act? Do I hesitate, falter, postpone and procrastinate? Do I like to co-operate with others? Do I indulge in gossip? Do I like to work alone? Do I practice the little acts of courtesy in my daily associations? Do I remember to say: "Thank you," "Pardon me," "Forgive me," "I'm sorry," "Excuse me, please," and others? Am I willing to live, love and share? Do I covet what others have? Am I envious? Am I jealous? Do I pray and work against selfishness? Conscious attention to the improvement of personal qualities and attributes improves the social and business relationship of any individual and if indulged in, they will distinguish him.
Make a list of your specialized knowledge. In what field are you most proficient? What business offers you the greatest stimulation? Can you lose yourself in what you are doing? Can you present ideas in a scientific plan? Can you make an intelligent blue print of your personal qualifications? Are you versatile? Can you tell wheat from chaff? Do you have a new interest in your job? Do you exercise your imagination?
Do you challenge your own ability? Do you read each day something to provoke thought? Do you cultivate your sense of humor?
Intelligence is the capacity and ability to size up yourself, size up your environment and to organize them into a workable plan that you may share life's abundance.
The fourth way to develop ability is Freedom.
Ability is seeking self-expression and functions more efficiently when the mind is not loaded down with a lot of false and specious importations. All kinds of rumors, hearsays, dreads, superstitions and dire speculations are constantly infesting the air. Ninety-nine per cent of these mental vagabonds have no leg on which to stand. They are only fantastic phantoms to harass, subdue and delay the ability's action. Here are a few examples: "Have you heard this one?" "Don't tell anyone I said so..." "Confidentially speaking . . ." "During my last operation . . ." "Have you heard about so and so?" "Between you and me . . ." "I don't seem to be able to get started." "The trouble of the world is . . ." "My situation is different . . ." "This is a good one . . ." So they travel ad infinitum. The moment any of these mental vagabonds cross your path, do not stop them, let them keep on going.
"Old Pop Judgment" and "Old Mom Advice" are on every corner to tell you how to do it, or to advise that it is impossible. Then there is Cousin Tom, Dick and Harry with a wet blanket to dampen the spirit. They, too, have a brand of expert knowledge.
How can anyone know the value of your ideas when they have had no part in creating them? Take suggestions, but let the dictates of your conscience be the final judge. Everything in the Universe is organized. Organization is the secret of scientific development and fruition. It gets rid of excess baggage, and permits the ability to function with freedom.
The fifth way to develop ability is Vision.
Most people believe only in the things they see. Appearance is everything. To attribute power to appearance is superstitious. Appearance is only a manifestation and has no power in itself. All power is invisible. Mind is invisible. Wind is invisible. Sound is invisible. Life is invisible. Spirit is invisible. Electricity is invisible. Put two wires side by side, charge one with a hundred thousand volts of electricity, let the other one remain inert, and you cannot distinguish between them. The only thing visible about electricity is the manifestation of light. If you doubt that electricity exists touch a live wire.
Vision is something seen otherwise than by ordinary sight. It is a visual image of a plan in action. It is peeping through the fence of appearance. To believe in things you can see is sight. To believe in things you cannot see is vision. When vision fails, men perish. Vision is the camera of the imagination, and supplies the film to register the image.
For thousands of years the Niagara River dashed over the rocky cliff, and was only an interesting sight for visitors. A wise man, with a vision, recognized its great potentialities. Why not convert this great force into power? Today those falls have not changed, but the invisible power concealed in them is turning the wheels of a thousand industries, and supplying electrical power to light and heat thousands of homes. By drawing on his latent ability, the man with a vision harnessed the power of countless horses and converted it into a useful channel to serve his fellow men.
Vision is one of the most important faculties. It develops foresight and turns hindsight into profit. Every man has a portion. Use it.
The sixth way to develop the ability is Coordination.
Ideas have a kinship and form excellent partnerships to produce harmony. When this kinship is recognized it illuminates and invigorates the ability. When ideas conflict, distraction confuses and disrupts the ability. It is unable to function with full force to reach its goal, or to enjoy a complete fruition.
Special machinery is constructed to perform specific jobs. A knitting machine makes hosiery. A lawn mower cuts grass. Both machines are excellent performers and do a splendid job in their respective fields. However, it would entail a severe conflict to attempt to mow a lawn with a knitting machine or to knit hosiery with a lawn mower. The same principle applies to ability. My ability has been developed in the field of human relations, and regardless of how good this ability is, it would be thwarted and confused in the field of obstetrics. The field of human relations, and also the field of obstetrics, are not crowded with perfection, and each field offers the ability a lifetime of interest and investigation.
A host of ideas is seeking a partnership to improve and perfect your occupation. To be cooperative, effective and beneficial, these ideas must be regulated and expressed through coordination. Therefore, stick to one field, and as the ability develops in that field, the field enlarges and the ability expands. Let harmonious ideas co-ordinate and feed your ability and your ability will feed you.
The seventh way to develop ability is Conviction.
Every day Parson Jones visited his church to preach. Someone asked him why he preached six days each week to himself, and only one day each week to his congregation. His answer was: "It takes six days of preaching to convince myself, and only one day to convince my congregation."
One of the most difficult jobs is to convince ourselves, but once this is accomplished it is fairly easy to convince others.
Conviction comes from two Latin words, "con," and "vincere," which means "to conquer." In order to conquer doubt about your ability to perform, either by argument or belief, it is imperative that the proposition be thought through to a conclusion. Half-baked conclusions are the result of faulty reasoning. Thinking through can only reach one conclusion--the proposition is either true or false. If it is true, make a decision with conviction, and act upon it with determination. A state of being convinced is predicated upon the integrity of the human mind.
When fed with facts the mind does not err and the decision reached inspires conviction.
To realize the full impetus of ability and to derive the full benefit from it, a thorough and whole-hearted conviction must permeate and embrace every phase of your occupation. The occupation must warrant this, otherwise the standard must be raised, or a new field of endeavor sought to allow full expression.
In my forty years of experience in the field of selling, I have always acted as my first customer. My conviction has been if it is good enough for me to buy, it is good enough for me to sell. On the other hand, if it is not good enough for me to buy, it is not good enough for me to sell. Acting on this conviction, success followed.
Conviction based upon the principle of good is invincible and never fails to convince. It puts the ability in operation in high gear. It acts with confidence and determination. Convince yourself, and you convince all others. A few strong impulses, a little gumption, a rule or two, and a dose of conviction, and the ability goes in action.
Before closing the book on this chapter, I suggest that you read, review and study each one of these seven ways and think of them in terms of your own ability. As a definite reminder, I will list them.
God is not partial to a fortunate few. His unlimited gifts and riches are free to all. However, there are certain laws that govern them.
During World War II, many stories were told how man faced and overcame what seemed to be insurmountable problems and conditions. When faced with a crisis, hidden ability comes to man's rescue. He finds himself doing the impossible, and performing so-called miracles. The exigency of the situation provokes means to solve it. Latent ability does not seek a favorable occasion to work. It is instantaneously available for any occasion and will work for any one at any time. It is not necessary to get in a fox-hole or to be stranded in a rubber boat to find God's Laws. They are where you are. Miraculous achievements become commonplace once man learns to draw on his latent ability. A miracle is only a fulfillment of one of God's Laws which man learns to understand and apply.
Electricity turns the inert electric bulb into a shining light. Gasoline vapors turn a motor into action, and steam turns a locomotive into a vehicle of energy and power. At this very moment, your ability can revitalize and remake you. It turns negative thinking into positive action. It turns pessimism and despair into hope and confidence. It turns dissipation and defeat into application and progress. It turns all effort into health, happiness and achievement.
Fairy tales are founded upon wisdom and mysticism. When you learn to draw upon the invisible Laws of God, and use your ability to apply them, many more fairy tales will be a dream fulfilled.
Your ability is the product of your thoughts. Be satisfied with none but the best. Remember:
Ability is twice blest;
It blesses him that gives, and him that takes.