By Robert Stuberg |
One writer from the past that I thoroughly enjoy is Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was born in Boston in 1803 and graduated from Harvard in 1821. His writings have certainly changed the lives of millions of people throughout the world.
Perhaps my favorite of his writings is “Self-Reliance” which stresses the importance of being an individual and a nonconformist. The idea he puts forth revolves around how important it is to trust yourself, and to let your mind lead you to the way in life that is best for you.
On the topic of using your own mind and judgment, Emerson wrote:
“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within more than the luster of the firmament of bards an sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
I love this quote because it speaks to the experience so many of us have when we think about an idea for a better product or service but yet do nothing about it. Later we see someone else successfully implement the idea and we wonder why it wasn’t us.
Of course, the reason is obvious. We didn’t trust ourselves. Emerson goes on to write: “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better or worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him in new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”
I love reading this passage from time to time because it reminds me to trust my instincts and to believe in my ideas.
Here’s another quote from Emerson that really amplifies the importance of this concept: “Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place Divine Providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events.”
I believe that it’s so important to chart our own path to life. What all of us needs is the courage to step into the future with confidence and determination when it comes to reaching our goals.
Emerson probably said it best when he wrote: “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps within perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
If you have never read “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, I promise you that it’s worth your time and effort. If you have read it but it was some time ago, I can also promise you that revisiting it will inspire you once again.