IF YOU THINK YOU CAN, YOU CAN
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right”- Henry Ford, who was a prominent American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, who became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with "Fordism", that is, mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers.
It is all a matter of the mind. The human mind is a delicate but powerful object. Capable of exceptional things, it has long been considered an objet d’art. The intricate network of umpteen nerve cells connect together in myriad ways to create what is considered evolution’s magnum opus, till now any way. Outstanding physical deeds have often been ascribed to people under deep pressure. They phrase it “adrenaline rush”. A “fight-or-flight” response of our body that enables us to cross distinctive limits placed on our bodies and allows us to function, for some time at least, in a superhuman-like state. Our mind realizes that we are in a pressure-situation and somehow lifts us to extricate ourselves from the confronting situation. Now, all this is usually associated only with physical deeds, but we can extrapolate it to other situations too. If we just focus our mind on something and work hard to realize it, there is no reason that we will not.
“You can have anything in this world you want, if you want it badly enough and you're willing to pay the price”, said Mary Kay Ash, an American businesswoman and founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. Well she should know. Having faced quite a few difficulties in her life and having come up trumps, showing grit and fortitude to carve a niche for herself and her company, she would be the right person to expect this kind of a message from, as it comes from long and hard experience. Not something to be scoffed at. Very often the difference between failure and triumph is but a wafer-thin layer of uncertainty. If one puts in a bit more effort into one’s work, it may make all the difference in the world. Even if disappointments hound one at first, in the end, with perseverance and poise, we can achieve our goals. We should keep our target in mind and
believe that we can reach it. Belief is the main issue here. Very often it is not a question of aptitude. It is more about the cerebral make-up of the people involved. Whoever believes in himself or herself is able to get a psychological edge and in the end, sometimes this psychosomatic edge is all that is needed.
Abraham Lincoln has a pretty glum résumé. Yes I mean it. At the age of seven he and his family were forced out of their home and he was forced to go to work. When he was nine, his mother passed away. He wanted to go to law school, but had no education. He went into debt when he was twenty-three, to become a partner in a small store. It was only three years later that his business partner died, and left him with a debt that took him years to repay. He lost his job in 1832. He was defeated for legislature in 1832. He was elected to legislature in 1834. His sweetheart died in 1835. He then had a nervous breakdown in 1836. He was defeated for speaker in 1838. He was defeated for nomination for Congress in 1843. He was then elected to Congress in 1846, but lost his renomination in 1848. Then he was rejected for Land Officer in 1849. He was then defeated for Senate in 1854. Then he was defeated for nomination for Vice-President in 1856. He was again defeated for Senate in 1858 and finally elected President in 1860. This is the same person who successfully led the U.S. through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, preserved the Union, and ended slavery. After more than two hundred years of seeing Presidents come and go, historians and hoi polloi in numerous polls consider him to be one of the greatest Presidents of the United States, usually in the top three. Not bad at all is it?
“If you think you'll lose, you're lost; for out of the world we find, success begins with a fellow's will, it’s all in the state of mind,” is but a preview of “Thinking”, a famous poem written by Walter D. Wintle, a versifier who lived in the late 19th and early 20th century. Little to nothing is known about any details of his life but we can construe that he was quite a thinker by reading the above words. "Thinking" is also known as "The Man Who Thinks He Can". It is a beautiful poem with rhyme and rhythm. However, the main beauty of the poem lies in its meaning. The poet here expresses his belief that success or failure is all dependant on the state of the mind. A positive mind-set is of
utmost importance wherever we go. And it is not just a question of success and failure. An optimistic person is well-liked and this counts for a lot too, ultimately. We must go on straight on towards our goal with no hesitations or self-doubts. However over-confidence too is not a good thing. We should follow the philosophy of the great Roman lyric poet, Horace. He followed ‘aurea mediocritas’ or the ‘golden mean’, which means the desirable middle between two extremes, one of glut and the other of paucity. All things should be done with temperance and this is the key.
“Destitutus ventis, remos adhibe”, is an old Latin proverb which translates to, if the wind will not serve, take to the oars. If circumstances do not go according to our wishes, we should have self-confidence and try our best to alter them to suit our own needs. “If life sends you a lemon, make lemonade”, is yet another proverb which means the same thing. However for perseverance, we should have the confidence that our hard work will not be in vain and for this, we should tune our outlook to the proper channel. In toto, it is just a question of our mind and its outlook to life. A determined person can go places and very often that has happened. The pages of history are filled with examples of determined people. In fact I can go so far as to say that the pages of history textbooks are filled with determined people only. People who were so determined to make a mark in the history of the world that they did. Whatever faults we attribute to Hitler, one fault that we do not lay on his doorstep is indolence. He had the determination to do things and he did them, evil and malevolent though they were. Another example, as different from Hitler as black is from white, is Mahatma Gandhi, the admirable father of our nation whose stratagem of gentle but unyielding opposition did things that could have been done in no other way. "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it", said Lou Holtz, a retired American football coach and we would do well to remember it.
PRATHEEK PRAVEEN KUMAR