PEOPLE—AS YOU THINK yourself to success, that’s what you will study, people. You will study people very carefully to discover, then apply, success-rewarding principles to your life. And you want to begin right away.

Go deep into your study of people, and you’ll discover unsuccessful people suffer a mind-deadening thought disease. We call this disease excusitis. Every failure has this disease in its advanced form. And most “average” persons have at least a mild case of it.

You will discover that excusitis explains the difference between the person who is going places and the fellow who is barely holding his own. You will find that the more successful the individual, the less inclined he is to make excuses.

But the fellow who has gone nowhere and has no plans for getting anywhere always has a bookful of reasons to explain why. Persons with mediocre accomplishments are quick to explain why they haven’t, why they don’t, why they can’t, and why they aren’t.

Study the lives of successful people and you’ll discover this: all the excuses made by the mediocre fellow could be but aren’t made by the successful person. I have never met nor heard of a highly successful business executive, military officer, salesman, professional person, or leader in any field who could not have found one or more major excuses to hide behind. Roosevelt could have hidden behind his lifeless legs; Truman could have used “no college education”; Kennedy could have said, “I’m too young to be president”; Johnson and Eisenhower could have ducked behind heart attacks.

Like any disease, excusitis gets worse if it isn’t treated properly. A victim of this thought disease goes through this mental process: “I’m not doing as well as I should. What can I use as an alibi that will help me save face? Let’s see: poor health? lack of education? too old? too young? bad luck? personal misfortune? the way my family brought me up?”

Once the victim of this failure disease has selected a “good” excuse, he sticks with it. Then he relies on the excuse to explain to himself and others why he is not going forward.

And each time the victim makes the excuse, the excuse becomes imbedded deeper within his subconsciousness. Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilized with constant repetition. At first the victim of excusitis knows his alibi is more or less a lie. But the more frequently he repeats it, the more convinced he becomes that it is completely true, that the alibi is the real reason for his not being the success he should be.

Procedure One, then, in your individual program of thinking yourself to success, must be to vaccinate yourself against excusitis, the disease of the failures.


Excusitis appears in a wide variety of forms, but the worst types of this disease are health excusitis, intelligence excusitis, age excusitis, and luck excusitis. Now let’s see just how we can protect ourselves from these four common ailments.

1. “But My Health Isn’t Good.”

Health excusitis ranges all the way from the chronic “I don’t feel good” to the more specific “I’ve got such-and-such wrong with me.”

“Bad” health, in a thousand different forms, is used as an excuse for failing to do what a person wants to do, failing to accept greater responsibilities, failing to make more money, failing to achieve success.

Millions and millions of people suffer from health excusitis. But is it, in most cases, a legitimate excuse? Think for a moment of all the highly successful people you know who could—but who don’t—use health as an excuse.

My physician and surgeon friends tell me the perfect specimen of adult life is nonexistent. There is something physically wrong with everybody. Many surrender in whole or in part to health excusitis, but success-thinking people do not.

Two experiences happened to me in one afternoon that illustrate the correct and incorrect attitudes toward health. I had just finished a talk in Cleveland. Afterwards, one fellow, about thirty, asked to speak to me privately for a few minutes. He complimented me on the meeting but then said, “I’m afraid your ideas can’t do me much good.”

“You see,” he continued, “I’ve got a bad heart, and I’ve got to hold myself in check.” He went on to explain that he’d seen four doctors but they couldn’t find his trouble. He asked me what I would suggest he do.

“Well,” I said, “I know nothing about the heart, but as one layman to another, here are three things I’d do. First, I’d visit the finest heart specialist I could find and accept his diagnosis as final. You’ve already checked with four doctors, and none of them has found anything peculiar with your heart. Let the fifth doctor be your final check. It may very well be you’ve got a perfectly sound heart. But if you keep on worrying about it, eventually you may have a very serious heart ailment. Looking and looking and looking for an illness often actually produces illness.

“The second thing I’d recommend is that you read Dr. Schindler’s great book, How to Live 365 Days a Year. Dr. Schindler shows in this book that three out of every four hospital beds are occupied by people who have EIL—Emotionally Induced Illness. Imagine, three out of four people who are sick right now would be well if they had learned how to handle their emotions. Read Dr. Schindler’s book and develop your program for ‘emotions management.’

“Third, I’d resolve to live until I die.” I went on to explain to this troubled fellow some sound advice I received many years ago from a lawyer friend who had an arrested case of tuberculosis. This friend knew he would have to live a regulated life but this hasn’t stopped him from practicing law, rearing a fine family, and really enjoying life. My friend, who now is seventy-eight years old, expresses his philosophy in these words: “I’m going to live until I die and I’m not going to get life and death confused. While I’m on this earth I’m going to live. Why be only half alive? Every minute a person spends worrying about dying is just one minute that fellow might as well have been dead.”

I had to leave at that point, because I had to be on a certain plane for Detroit. On the plane the second but much more pleasant experience occurred. After the noise of the takeoff, I heard a ticking sound. Rather startled, I glanced at the fellow sitting beside me, for the sound seemed to be coming from him.

He smiled a big smile and said, “Oh, it’s not a bomb. It’s just my heart.”

I was obviously surprised, so he proceeded to tell me what had happened.

Just twenty-one days before, he had undergone an operation that involved putting a plastic valve into his heart. The ticking sound, he explained, would continue for several months, until new tissue had grown over the artificial valve. I asked him what he was going to do.

“Oh,” he said, “I’ve got big plans. I’m going to study law when I get back to Minnesota. Someday I hope to be in government work. The doctors tell me I must take it easy for a few months, but after that I’ll be like new.”

There you have two ways of meeting health problems. The first fellow, not even sure he had anything organically wrong with him, was worried, depressed, on the road to defeat, wanting somebody to second his motion that he couldn’t go forward. The second individual, after undergoing one of the most difficult of operations, was optimistic, eager to do something. The difference lay in how they thought toward health!

I’ve had some very direct experience with health excusitis. I’m a diabetic. Right after I discovered I had this ailment (about 5,000 hypodermics ago), I was warned, “Diabetes is a physical condition; but the biggest damage results from having a negative attitude toward it. Worry about it, and you may have real trouble.” Naturally, since the discovery of my own diabetes, I’ve gotten to know a great many other diabetics. Let me tell you about two extremes. One fellow who has a very mild case belongs to that fraternity of the living dead. Obsessed with a fear of the weather, he is usually ridiculously bundled up. He’s afraid of infection, so he shuns anybody who has the slightest sniffle. He’s afraid of overexertion, so he does almost nothing. He spends most of his mental energy worrying about what might happen. He bores other people telling them “how awful” his problem really is. His real ailment is not diabetes. Rather, he’s a victim of health excusitis. He has pitied himself into being an invalid.

The other extreme is a division manager for a large publishing company. He has a severe case; he takes about thirty times as much insulin as the fellow mentioned above. But he is not living to be sick. He is living to enjoy his work and have fun. One day he said to me, “Sure it is an inconvenience, but so is shaving. But I’m not going to think myself to bed. When I take those shots, I just praise the guys who discovered insulin.”

A good friend of mine, a widely known college educator, came home from Europe in 1945 minus one arm. Despite his handicap, John is always smiling, always helping others. He’s about as optimistic as anyone I know. One day he and I had a long talk about his handicap.

“It’s just an arm,” he said, “Sure, two are better than one. But they just cut off my arm. My spirit is one hundred percent intact. I’m really grateful for that.”

Another amputee friend is an excellent golfer. One day I asked him how he had been able to develop such a near-perfect style with just one arm. I mentioned that most golfers with two arms can’t do nearly as well. His reply says a lot. “Well, it’s my experience,” he said, “that the right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms every time.” The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms every time. Think about that for a while. It holds true not only on the golf course but in every facet of life.


The best vaccine against health excusitis consists of these four doses:

1. Refuse to talk about your health. The more you talk about an ailment, even the common cold, the worse it seems to get. Talking about bad health is like putting fertilizer on weeds. Besides, talking about your health is a bad habit. It bores people. It makes one appear self-centered and old-maidish. Success-minded people defeat the natural tendency to talk about their “bad” health. One may (and let me emphasize the word may) get a little sympathy, but one doesn’t get respect and loyalty by being a chronic complainer.

2. Refuse to worry about your health. Dr. Walter Alvarez, emeritus consultant to the world-famous Mayo Clinic, wrote, “I always beg worriers to exercise some self-control. For instance, when I saw this man (a fellow who was convinced he had a diseased gallbladder although eight separate X-ray examinations showed that the organ was perfectly normal), I begged him to quit getting his gallbladder X-rayed. I have begged hundreds of heart-conscious men to quit getting electrocardiograms made.”

3. Be genuinely grateful that your health is as good as it is. There’s an old saying worth repeating often: “I felt sorry for myself because I had ragged shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Instead of complaining about “not feeling good,” it’s far better to be glad you are as healthy as you are. Just being grateful for the health you have is powerful vaccination against developing new aches and pains and real illness.

4. Remind yourself often, “It’s better to wear out than rust out.” Life is yours to enjoy. Don’t waste it. Don’t pass up living by thinking yourself into a hospital bed.

2. “But You’ve Got to Have Brains to Succeed.”

Intelligence excusitis, or “I lack brains,” is common. In fact, it’s so common that perhaps as many as 95 percent of the people around us have it in varying degrees. Unlike most other types of excusitis, people suffering from this particular type of the malady suffer in silence. Not many people will admit openly that they think they lack adequate intelligence. Rather, they feel it deep down inside.

Most of us make two basic errors with respect to intelligence:

1. We underestimate our own brainpower.

2. We overestimate the other fellow’s brainpower.

Because of these errors many people sell themselves short. They fail to tackle challenging situations because it “takes a brain.” But along comes the fellow who isn’t concerned about intelligence, and he gets the job.

What really matters is not how much intelligence you have but how you use what you do have. The thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than the quantity of your brainpower. Let me repeat, for this is vitally important: the thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than how much intelligence you may have.

In answering the question, “Should your child be a scientist?” Dr. Edward Teller, one of the nation’s foremost physicists, said, “A child does not need a lightning-fast mind to be a scientist, nor does he need a miraculous memory, nor is it necessary that he get very high grades in school. The only point that counts is that the child have a high degree of interest in science.”

Interest, enthusiasm, is the critical factor even in science!

With a positive, optimistic, and cooperative attitude a person with an IQ of 100 will earn more money, win more respect, and achieve more success than a negative, pessimistic, uncooperative individual with an IQ of 120.

Just enough sense to stick with something—a chore, task, project—until it’s completed pays off much better than idle intelligence, even if idle intelligence be of genius caliber.

For stickability is 95 percent of ability.

At a homecoming celebration last year I met a college friend whom I had not seen for ten years. Chuck was a very bright student and was graduated with honors. His goal when I last saw him was to own his own business in western Nebraska.

I asked Chuck what kind of business he finally established.

“Well,” he confessed, “I didn’t go into business for myself. I wouldn’t have said this to anyone five years ago or even one year ago, but now I’m ready to talk about it.

“As I look back at my college. education now, I see that I became an expert in why a· business idea won’t work out. I learned every conceivable pitfall, every reason why a small business will fail: ‘You’ve got to have ample capital;’ ‘Be sure the business cycle is right;’ ‘Is there a big demand for what you will offer?’ ‘Is local industry stabilized?’—a thousand and one things to check out.

“The thing that hurts most is that several of my old high school friends who never seemed to have much on the ball and didn’t even go to college now are very well established in their own businesses. But me, I’m just plodding along, auditing freight shipments. Had I been drilled a little more in why a small business can succeed, I’d be better off in every way today.”

The thinking that guided Chuck’s intelligence was a lot more important than the amount of Chuck’s intelligence.

Why some brilliant people are failures. I’ve been close for many years to a person who qualifies as a genius, has high abstract intelligence, and is Phi Beta Kappa. Despite this very high native intelligence, he is one of the most unsuccessful people I know. He has a very mediocre job (he’s afraid of responsibility). He has never married (lots of marriages end in divorce). He has few friends (people bore him). He’s never invested in property of any kind (he might lose his money). This man uses his great brainpower to prove why things won’t work rather than directing his mental power to searching for ways to succeed.

Because of the negative thinking that guides his great reservoir of brains, this fellow contributes little and creates nothing. With a changed attitude, he could do great things indeed. He has the brains to be a tremendous success, but not the thought power.

Another person I know well was inducted into the Army shortly after earning the Ph.D. degree from a leading New York university. How did he spend his three years in the Army? Not as an officer. Not as a staff specialist. Instead, for three years he drove a truck. Why? Because he was filled with negative attitudes toward fellow soldiers (“I’m superior to them”), toward army methods and procedures (“They are stupid”), toward discipline (“It’s for others, not me”), toward everything, including himself (“I’m a fool for not figuring out a way to escape this rap”).

This fellow earned no respect from anyone. All his vast store of knowledge lay buried. His negative attitudes turned him into a flunky.

Remember, the thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than how much intelligence you have. Not even a Ph.D. degree can override this basic success principle!

Several years ago I became a close friend of Phil F., one of the senior officers of a major advertising agency. Phil was director of marketing research for the agency, and he was doing a bang-up job.

Was Phil a “brain”? Far from it. Phil knew next to nothing about research technique. He knew next to nothing about statistics. He was not a college graduate (though all the people working for him were). And Phil did not pretend to know the technical side of research. What, then, enabled Phil to command $30,000 a year while not one of his subordinates earned $10,000?

This: Phil was a “human” engineer. Phil was 100 percent positive. Phil could inspire others when they felt low. Phil was enthusiastic. He generated enthusiasm; Phil understood people, and, because he could really see what made them tick, he liked them.

Not Phil’s brains, but how he managed those brains, made him three times more valuable to his company than men who rated higher on the IQ scale.

Out of every 100 persons who enroll in college, fewer than 50 will graduate. I was curious about this so I asked a director of admissions at a large university for his explanation.

“It’s not insufficient intelligence,” he said. “We don’t admit them if they don’t have sufficient ability. And it’s not money. Anyone who wants to support himself in college today can do so. The real reason is attitudes. You would be surprised,” he said, “how many young people leave because they don’t like their professors, the subjects they must take, and their fellow students.”

The same reason, negative thinking, explains why the door to top-flight executive positions is closed to many young junior executives. Sour, negative, pessimistic, depreciating attitudes rather than insufficient intelligence hold back thousands of young executives. As one executive told me, “It’s a rare case when we pass up a young fellow because he lacks brains. Nearly always it’s attitude.”

Once I was retained by an insurance company to learn why the top 25 percent of the agents were selling over 75 percent of the insurance while the bottom 25 percent of the agents sold only 5 percent of total volume.

Thousands of personnel files were carefully checked. The search proved beyond any question that no significant difference existed in native intelligence. What’s more, differences in education did not explain the difference in selling success. The difference in the very successful and the very unsuccessful finally reduced to differences in attitudes, or difference in thought management. The top group worried less, was more enthusiastic, had a sincere liking for people.

We can’t do much to change the amount of native ability, but we can certainly change the way we use what we have.

Knowledge is power-when you use it constructively. Closely allied to intelligence excusitis is some incorrect thinking about knowledge. We often hear that knowledge is power. But this statement is only .a half-truth. Knowledge is only potential power. Knowledge is power only when put to use—and then only when the use made of it is constructive.

The story is told that the great scientist Einstein was once asked how many feet are in a mile. Einstein’s reply was “I don’t know. Why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book?”

Einstein taught us a big lesson. He felt it was more important to use your mind to think than to use it as a warehouse for facts.

One time Henry Ford was involved in a libel suit with the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune had called Ford an ignoramus, and Ford said, in effect, “Prove it.”

The Tribune asked him scores of simple questions such as “Who was Benedict Arnold?” “When was the Revolutionary War fought?” and others, most of which Ford, who had little formal education, could not answer.

Finally he became quite exasperated and said, “I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I could find a man in five minutes who does.”

Henry Ford was never interested in miscellaneous information. He knew what every major executive knows: that the ability to know how to get information is . more important than using the mind as a garage for facts.

How much is a fact man worth? I spent a very interesting evening recently with a friend who is the president of a young but rapidly growing manufacturing concern. The TV set happened to be turned to one of the most popular quiz programs. The fellow being quizzed had been on the show for several weeks. He could answer questions on all sorts of subjects, many of which seemed nonsensical.

After the fellow answered a particularly odd question, some thing about a mountain in Argentina, my host looked at me and said, “How much do you think I’d pay that guy to work for me?”

“How much?” I asked.

“Not a cent over $300—not per week, not per month, but for life. I’ve sized him up. That ‘expert’ can’t think. He can only memorize. He’s just a human encyclopedia, and I figure for $300 I can buy a pretty good set of encyclopedias. In fact, maybe that’s too much. Ninety percent of what that guy knows I can find in a $2 almanac.

“What I want around me,” he continued, “are people who can solve problems, who can think up ideas. People who can dream and· then develop the dream into a practical application; an idea man can make money with me; a fact man can’t.”


Three easy ways to cure intelligence excusitis are:

1. Never underestimate your own intelligence, and never overestimate the intelligence of others. Don’t sell yourself short. Concentrate on your assets. Discover your superior talents. Remember, it’s not how many brains you’ve got that matters. Rather, it’s how you use your brains that counts. Manage your brains instead of worrying about how much IQ you’ve got.

2. Remind yourself several times daily, “My attitudes are more important than my intelligence.” At work and at home practice positive attitudes. See the reasons why you can do it, not the reasons why you can’t. Develop an “I’m winning” attitude. Put your intelligence to creative positive use. Use it to find ways to win, not to prove you will lose.

3. Remember that the ability to think is of much greater value than the ability to memorize facts. Use your mind to create and develop ideas, to find new and better ways to do things. Ask yourself, “Am I using my mental ability to make history, or am I using it merely to record history made by others?”

3. “It’s No Use. I’m Too Old (or Too Young).”

Age excusitis, the failure disease of never being the right age, comes in two easily identifiable forms: the “I’m too old” variety and the “I’m too young” brand.

You’ve heard hundreds of people of all ages explain their mediocre performance in life something like this: “I’m too old (or too young) to break in now. I can’t do what I want to do or am capable of doing because of my age handicap.”

Really, it’s surprising how few people feel they are “just right” age-wise. And it’s unfortunate. This excuse has closed the door of real opportunity to thousands of individuals. They think their age is wrong, so they don’t even bother to try.

The “I’m too old” variety is the most common form of age excusitis. This disease is spread in subtle ways. TV fiction is produced about the big executive who lost his job because of a merger and can’t find another because he’s too old. Mr. Executive looks for months to find another job, but he can’t, and in the end, after contemplating suicide for a while, he decides to rationalize that it’s nice to be on the shelf.

Plays and magazine articles on the topic “Why You Are Washed Up at 40” are popular, not because they represent true facts, but because they appeal to many worried minds looking for an excuse.


Age excusitis can be cured. A few years ago, while I was conducting a sales training program, I discovered a good serum that both cures this disease and vaccinates you so you won’t get it in the first place.

In that training program there was a trainee named Cecil. Cecil, who was forty, wanted to shift over to set himself up as a manufacturer’s representative, but he thought he was too old. “After all,” he explained, “I’d have to start from scratch. And I’m too old for that now. I’m forty.”

I talked with Cecil several times about his “old age” problem. I used the old medicine, “You’re only as old as you feel,” but I found I was getting nowhere.(Too often people retort with “But I do feel old!”)

Finally, I discovered a method that worked. One day after a training session, I tried it on Cecil. I said, “Cecil, when does a man’s productive life begin?”

He thought a couple of seconds and answered, “Oh, when he’s about twenty, I guess.”

“Okay,” I said, “now, when does a man’s productive life end?”

Cecil answered, “Well, if he stays in good shape and likes his work, I guess a man is still pretty useful when he’s seventy or so.”

“All right,” I said, “a lot of folks are highly productive after they reach seventy, but let’s agree with what you’ve just said, a man’s productive years stretch from twenty to seventy. That’s fifty years in between, or half a century. Cecil,” I said, “you’re forty. How many years of productive life have you spent?”

“Twenty,” he answered.

“And how many have you left?”

“Thirty” he replied.

“In other words, Cecil, you haven’t even reached the halfway point; you’ve used up only 40 percent of your productive years.”

I looked at Cecil and realized he’d gotten the point. He was cured of age excusitis. Cecil saw he still had many opportunityfilled years left. He switched from thinking “I’m already old” to “I’m still young.” Cecil now realized that how old we are is not important. It’s one’s attitude toward age that makes it a blessing or a barricade.

Curing yourself of age excusitis often opens doors to opportunities that you thought were locked tight. A relative of mine spent years doing many different things—selling, operating his own business, working in a bank—but he never quite found what he really wanted to do most. Finally, he concluded that the one thing he wanted more than anything else was to be a minister. But when he thought about it, he found he was too old. After all, he was forty-five, had three young children and little money.

But fortunately he mustered all of his strength and told himself, “Forty-five or not, I’m going to be a minister.”

With tons of faith but little else, he enrolled in a five-year ministerial training program in Wisconsin. Five years later he was ordained as a minister and settled down with a fine congregation in Illinois.

Old? Of course not. He still has twenty years of productive life ahead of him. I talked with this man not long ago, and he said to me, “You know, if I had not made that great decision when I was forty-five, I would have spent the rest of my life growing old and bitter. Now I feel every bit as young as I did twenty-five years ago.”

And he almost looked it, too. When you kick age excusitis, the natural result is to gain the optimism of youth and feel of youth. When you beat down your fears of age limitations, you add years to your life as well as success.

A former university colleague of mine provides an interesting angle on how age excusitis was defeated. Bill was graduated from Harvard in the 1920s. After twenty-four years in the stockbrokerage business, during which time he made a modest fortune, Bill decided he wanted to become a college professor. Bill’s friends warned him that he would overtax himself in the rugged learning program ahead. But Bill was determined to reach his goal and enrolled in the University of Illinois—at the age of fifty-one. At fifty-five he had earned his degree. Today Bill is chairman of the Department of Economics at a fine liberal arts college. He’s happy, too. He smiles when he says, “I’ve got almost a third of my good years left.”

Old age is a failure disease. Defeat it by refusing to let it hold you back.

When is a person too young? The “I’m too young” variety of age excusitis does much damage, too. About a year ago, a twenty-three-year-old fellow named Jerry came to me with a problem. Jerry was a fine young man. He had been a paratrooper in the service and then had gone to college. While going to college, Jerry supported his wife and son by selling for a large transfer and-storage company. He had done a terrific job, both in college and for his company.

But today Jerry was worried. “Dr. Schwartz,” he said, “I’ve got a problem. My company has offered me the job of sales manager. This would make me supervisor over eight salesmen.” “Congratulations, that’s wonderful news!” I said. “But you seem worried.”

“Well,” he continued, “all eight men I’m to supervise are from seven to twenty-one years older than I. What do you think I should do? Can I handle it?”

“Jerry,” I said, “the general manager of your company obviously thinks you’re old enough or he wouldn’t have offered you this job. Just remember these three points and everything will work out just fine: first, don’t be age conscious. Back on the farm a boy became a man when he proved he could do the work of a man. His number of birthdays had nothing to do with it. And this applies to you. When you prove you are able to handle the job of sales manager, you’re automatically old enough.

“Second, don’t take advantage of your new ‘gold bars’. Show respect for the salesmen. Ask them for their suggestions. Make them feel they are working for a team captain, not a dictator. Do this and the men will work with you, not against you.

“Third, get used to having older persons working for you. Leaders in all fields soon find they are younger than many of the people they supervise. So get used to having older men work for you. It will help you a lot in the coming years, when even bigger opportunities develop.

“And remember, Jerry, your age won’t be a handicap unless you make it one.”

Today Jerry’s doing fine. He loves the transportation business, and now he’s planning to organize his own company in a few years.

Youth is a liability only when the youth thinks it is. You often hear that certain jobs require “considerable” physical maturity, jobs like selling securities and insurance. That you’ve got to have either gray hair or no hair at all in order to gain an investor’s confidence is plain nonsense. What really matters is how well you know your job. If you know your job and understand people, you’re sufficiently mature to handle it. Age has no real relation to ability, unless you convince yourself that years alone will give you the stuff you need to make your mark.

Many young people feel that they are being held back because of their youth. Now, it is true that another person in an organization who is insecure and job-scared may try to block your way forward, using age or some other reason.

But the people who really count in the company will not.

They will give you as much responsibility as they feel you can handle well. Demonstrate that you have ability and positive attitudes and your youthfulness will be considered an advantage.

In quick recap, the cure for age excusitis is:

1. Look at your present age positively. Think, “I’m still young,” not “I’m already old.” Practice looking forward to new horizons and gain the enthusiasm and the feel of youth.

2. Compute how much productive time you have left. Remember, a person age thirty still has 80 percent of his productive life ahead of him. And the fifty-year-old still has a big 40 percent—the best 40 percent—of his opportunity years left. Life is actually longer than most people think!

3. Invest future time in doing what you really want to do. It’s too late only when you let your mind go negative and think it’s too late. Stop thinking “I should have started years ago.” That’s failure thinking. Instead think, “I’m going to start now, my best years are ahead of me.” That’s the way successful people think.

4. “But My Case Is Different; I Attract Bad Luck.”

Recently, I heard a traffic engineer discuss highway safety. He pointed out that upward of 40,000 persons are killed each year in so-called traffic accidents. The main point of his talk was that there is no such thing as a true accident. What we call an accident is the result of human or mechanical failure, or a combination of both.

What this traffic expert was saying substantiates what wise men throughout the ages have said: there is a cause for everything. Nothing happens without a cause. There is nothing accidental about the weather outside today. It is the result of specific causes. And there is no reason to believe that human affairs are an exception.

Yet hardly a day passes that you do not hear someone blame his problems on “bad” luck. And it’s a rare day that you do not hear someone attribute another person’s success to “good” luck.

Let me illustrate how people succumb to luck excusitis. I lunched recently with three young junior executives. The topic of conversation that day was George C., who just yesterday had been picked from among their group for a major promotion.

Why did George get the position? These three fellows dug up all sorts of reasons: luck, pull, bootlicking, everything but the truth. The facts were that George was simply better qualified. He had been doing a better job. He was working harder. He had a more effective personality.

I also knew that the senior officers in the company had spent much time considering which one of the four would be promoted. My three disillusioned friends should have realized that top executives don’t select major executives by drawing names from a hat.

I was talking about the seriousness of luck excusitis not long ago with a sales executive of a machine-tool manufacturing company. He became excited about the problem and began to talk about his own experience with it.

“I’ve never heard it called that before,” he said, “but it is one of the most difficult problems every sales executive has to wrestle with. Just yesterday a perfect example of what you’re talking about happened in my company.

“One of the salesmen walked in about four o’clock with a $112,000 order for machine tools. Another salesman, whose volume is so low he’s a problem, was in the office at the time. Hearing John tell the good news, he rather enviously congratulated him and then said, ‘Well, John, you’re lucky again!’

“Now, what the weak salesman won’t accept is that luck had nothing to do with John’s big order. John had been working on that customer for months. He had talked repeatedly to a half dozen people out there. John had stayed up nights figuring out exactly what was best for them. Then he got our engineers to make preliminary designs of the equipment. John wasn’t lucky, unless you can call carefully planned work and patiently executed plans luck.”

Suppose luck were used to reorganize General Motors. If luck determined who does what and who goes where, every business in the nation would fall apart. Assume for a moment that General Motors were to be completely reorganized on the basis of luck. To carry out the reorganization, the names of all employees would be placed in a barrel. The first name drawn would be president; the second name, the executive vice president, and so on down the line.

Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Well, that’s how luck would work.

People who rise to the top in any occupation—business management, selling, law, engineering, acting, or what have you—get there because they have superior attitudes and use their good sense in applied hard work.


Accept the law of cause and effect. Take a second look at what appears to be someone’s “good luck.” You’ll find that not luck but preparation, planning, and success-producing thinking preceded his good fortune. Take a second look at what appears to be someone’s “bad luck.” Look, and you’ll discover certain specific reasons. Mr. Success receives a setback; he learns and profits. But when Mr. Mediocre loses, he fails to learn.

Don’t be a wishful thinker. Don’t waste your mental muscles dreaming of an effortless way to win success. We don’t become successful simply through luck. Success comes from doing those things and mastering those principles that produce success. Don’t count on luck for promotions, victories, the good things in life. Luck simply isn’t designed to deliver these good things. Instead, just concentrate on developing those qualities in yourself that will make you a winner.