Reply To: Think and Grow Rich thoughts and questions and introspection

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Steven Barnes

Ellen–you are right that he spends seems to spend little time on compassion for those who are drowning. ON the other hand, you might think that a person who spends decades studying success is SPECIFICALLY AND DEEPLY concerned with the plight of the drowning, and wanted to find the very best methods of swimming, constructing life preservers, and avoiding thin ice over ponds.

In other words, the book itself is the act of compassion. It says: “Swim, dammit!” to someone thrashing and swallowing water. Why? To break through the panic. To counter the voices that say “I can’t! I’ll die!”

“Swim, dammit!” if the person is drowning. “Run, dammit!” if the tiger is chasing you. “Get out of that house!” if it is collapsing. He knows that the entire world tells you you are helpless, or innately “bad” if bad things are happening. And he is saying: you can change. You can have your dreams. But you must shut the door TIGHTLY to all the negatives.

This can be horrible for those who do not love themselves. But think about it: if you loved your son or daughter with all your heart, and had to save them when they are dangling off a cliff, and were growing tired and discouraged, and someone told you “you can do it! I believe in you! Pull, dammit!” you might not like their tone of voice, but I think you’d recognize their intent, and recognize that they are attempting to be an ally.

What you are seeing in this book are the thought patterns of people who struggle and succeed. These thought patterns are designed to shut out fear and doubt. That’s what successful people do. They don’t let those emotions stop them. They HAVE them, but don’t define themselves with them. The trick is to avoid sliding into the “I made it…anyone who doesn’t must be an asshole.” That’s the other side of the coin, and just as damaging and poisonous.

So it is a balancing act: believing you can DO IT, and understanding that others without your resources will be crippled by their fear and doubt, and compassion must be developed as much as strength. THINK AND GROW RICH is not a total human toolkit. No such thing exists. But as a guide to “how would I think and act if success was critical to the survival of my children..?” it cannot be beat, IMO.


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