I Don’t Believe in Defeat
IF YOU ARE thinking thoughts of defeat problem, I urge you to rid yourself of such thoughts, for as you think defeat you tend to get it. Adopt the “I don’t believe in defeat” attitude.
I want to tell you about some people who have put this philosophy into effect with excellent results and shall explain the techniques and formulas which they used so successfully. If you read these incidents carefully and thoughtfully and believe as they did and think positively and put these techniques into operation, you too, can overcome defeats which at the present moment may seem inevitable.
I hope you are not like an “obstacle man” of whom I was told. He was called an obstacle man because, regardless of whatever suggestion was advanced, his mind instantly went to all possible obstacles in connection with it, but he met his match and learned a lesson which helped to change his negative attitude. It came about in the following manner.
The directors of his firm had a project under consideration which involved considerable expense and some definite hazards as well as success possibilities. In the discussions regarding this venture the obstacle man would invariably say, and always with a scholarly air (invariably this type acts wise, probably a cover-up for inner doubt feelings), “Now just a moment. Let’s consider the obstacles involved.”
Another man, who said very little but who was respected by his associates for his ability and achievements and for a certain indomitable quality which characterized him, presently spoke up and asked, “Why do you constantly emphasize the obstacles in this proposition instead of the possibilities?”
“Because,” replied the obstacle man, “to be intelligent one must always be realistic, and it is a fact that there are certain definite obstacles in connection with this project. What attitude would you take toward these obstacles, may I ask?”
The other man unhesitatingly replied, “What attitude would I take toward these obstacles? Why, I would just remove them, that’s all, and then I would forget them.”
“But,” said the obstacle man, “that is easier said than done. You say you would remove them and then you would forget them. May I ask if you have any technique for removing obstacles and for forgetting them that the rest of us have never discovered?”
A slow smile came over the face of the other man as he said, “Son, I have spent my entire life removing obstacles and I never yet saw one that could not be removed provided you had enough faith and guts and were willing to work. Since you want to know how it’s done, I will show you.”
He then reached into his pocket and took out his wallet. Under the isinglass window was a card on which were written some words. He shoved the wallet across the table and said, “There, son, read that. That is my formula, and don’t give me the song and dance that it won’t work either. I know better from experience.”
The obstacle man picked up the wallet and with a strange look on his face read the words to himself.
“Read them out loud,” urged the owner of the wallet.
This is what he read in a slow, dubious voice, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)
The owner of the wallet put it back in his pocket and said, “I have lived a long time and have faced a lot of difficulties in my time, but there is power in those words—actual power— and with them you can remove any obstacle.”
He said this with confidence and everybody knew he meant it. This positiveness, together with the facts of his experience which were known to all, for he was a remarkable man who had overcome many odds, and because of the further fact that he was not in any sense “holier than thou,” made his words convincing to the men around the table. At any rate, there was no more negative talk. The project was put into operation and, despite difficulties and risks, turned out successfully.
The technique used by this man is based on the primary fact about an obstacle which is—don’t be afraid of it. Practice believing that God is with you and that in combination with Him you have the power to handle it.
So the first thing to do about an obstacle is simply to stand up to it and not complain about it or whine under it but forthrightly attack it. Don’t go crawling through life on your hands and knees half-defeated. Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.
A friend in England sent me a book by Winston Churchill entitled Maxims and Reflections. In this book Churchill tells of the British General Tudor, who commanded a division of the British Fifth Army which faced the great German assault in March 1918. The odds were heavily against him, but General Tudor knew how to meet an apparently immovable and un-defeatable obstacle. His method was simple. He merely stood and let the obstacle break on him and he, in turn, broke the obstacle.
Use that formula which the businessman suggested and you will develop this brand of powerful faith in God and in yourself. You will learn to know yourself, your own ability, your power to do things. To the degree to which your attitude shifts from negative to positive the mastery touch will come to you. Then, with assurance, you can say to yourself under any and all circumstances and mean it, “I don’t believe in defeat.”
For example, a woman sent her fifteen-year-old son to us. She said she wanted him “straightened out.” It annoyed her to no end that her boy could never get over 70 in any of his studies. “This boy has a great mind potentially,” she declared proudly.
“How do you know he has a great mind?” I asked.
“Because he is my son,” she said. “I graduated from college magna cum laude”
The boy came in very glumly, so I asked, “What’s the matter, son?”
“I don’t know. My mother sent me to see you.”
“Well,” I commented, “You don’t seem to be burning with enthusiasm. Your mother says you get only 70’s.”
“Yes,” he said, “that’s all I get, and,” he added, “that isn’t the worst of it. I’ve even received less than that.”
“Do you think you have a good mind, son?” I asked.
My mother says I have. I don’t know—I think I’m awful dumb. Dr. Peale,” he said earnestly, “I study the stuff. At home I read it over once and then close the book and try to remember it. I repeat this process about three times, and then I think that if three times doesn’t get it into my head how am I ever going to get it into my head? And then I go to school thinking maybe I have it, and the teacher calls on me to say something, and I stand up and can’t remember a thing. Then,” he said, “examinations come along and I sit there and just get hot and cold all over and I can’t think of the answers. I don’t know why,” he continued. “I know that my mother was a great scholar. I guess I just haven’t got it in me.”
This negative thought pattern combined with the inferiority feeling stimulated by his mother’s attitude was of course overwhelming him. He froze up in his mind. His mother had never told him to go to school and study for the wonder and glory of learning knowledge. She was not wise enough to encourage him to compete with himself rather than with others. And she was constantly insisting that he duplicate her success in scholarship. Little wonder that under this pressure he froze mentally.
I gave him some suggestions that proved helpful. “Before you read your lessons, pause a moment and pray in this manner, ‘Lord, I know I have a good mind and that I can get my work.’ Then get yourself relaxed and read the book without strain. Imagine you are reading a story. Do not read it twice unless you wish. Simply believe that you got it on the first reading. Visualize the material as soaking in and germinating. Then next morning, as you go to school, say to yourself, ‘I have a wonderful mother. She is very pretty and sweet, but she must have been an old bookworm to get those high marks. And who wants to be an old bookworm anyway? I don’t want to become magna cum nothing. I only want to get through school creditably.’
“In class, when the teacher calls on you, quickly pray before answering. Then believe the Lord will at that moment help your mind to deliver. When an examination is given, affirm in prayer that God is releasing your mind and that the right answers are given you.”
The boy followed these ideas, and what marks do you think he got the following semester? Ninety! I am sure that this boy, having discovered the amazing work ability of the “I don’t believe in defeat philosophy,” will employ the amazing power of positive thinking in all the affairs of his life.
I could use so many illustrations of the manner in which men’s lives have been revamped by these procedures that this Article would grow to unwieldy size. Moreover, these are incidents and experiences out of everyday life that are in no way theoretical, but are entirely practical. My mail is literally filled with testimonials sent by people who, having heard or read accounts I have told of victorious life experiences, have felt moved to relate similar occurrences in their own lives.
As you finish this article please say the following line aloud: “I don’t believe in defeat.” Continue to affirm that until the idea dominates your subconscious attitudes.