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Venture or Vegetate
By Earl Nightingale

© 2012 Nightingale-Conant Corporation

Dr. Harold Blake Walker of Evanston, Illinois, sent me something on one occasion that I enjoyed tremendously, and I think you'll enjoy it too. He wrote, "We live by faith or we do not live at all. Either we venture, or we vegetate. If we venture, we do so by faith, simply because we cannot know the end of anything at its beginning. We risk marriage on faith, or we stay single. We prepare for a profession by faith, or we give up before we start. By faith we move mountains or opposition, or we're stopped by molehills. Faith, however, is not often tranquil and steady. It ebbs and flows like the tides of the restless sea. Normally, like Browning's Bishop, we are forever exchanging a life of doubt diversified by faith, for one of faith diversified by doubt."

Yesterday, we began the day with confident hope, with trust in its promise. Last night, perhaps after a trying and troublesome day, we were beset by doubt and anxiety. We grope and fumble in search of certainty, wishing we could escape the doubts that haunt us. The peril is that we shall cease groping on through our doubts and live only on our negations. What we need, you and I, is faith strong enough to bear the burden of our doubts. No man ever drilled an oil well without being troubled by misgivings as the drill chewed downward toward producing structures. But only a fool would cease drilling halfway to the hope for pool.

It was William Morris, the painter, who wrote, "I tell you it's no joke to paint a portrait. Into the painting of every picture that is worth anything, there comes a period of doubt and despair." The artist, however, goes on with his work beyond his doubt to create an achievement.

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Faith enough to carry our doubts. It's enough. Perhaps it's all we can manage when fears assail and doubts annoy. Perhaps we can do no more than grope on through our uncertainties, pursuing the enterprises of our lives in the grim trust that the end will justify the struggle. If, despite our annoying doubts, we can muster faith enough to take a single step on the road to where we're going, we're on the way to creative achievement.

Every triumph of the human spirit begins with one step taken in faith. The single step is the small handle to great matters. No man or woman ever won a worthy triumph without faith to keep on and on, always able to last at least five minutes longer.

There's one further thing to be said, namely, that worthy triumphs cannot be won without faith enough to maintain our integrity. One of the ultimate tests of faith is our capacity to go on believing that somehow the right is the right even when right is on the scaffold and wrong seems to be on the throne. All of the great ventures of our lives require faith enough to bear the burden of our doubts so that we're able to take the first step in the direction that we wish to go — enough of faith to keep on going through struggle and strain and to maintain integrity on the way.

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Faith, as an ancient seer wrote, is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. And we need to exchange a life of doubt diversified by faith, to one of faith diversified by doubt.


Why Have an Inferiority Complex?

You know the words "know thyself" are still two of the most important words ever put together. Do you know why people sometimes — quite often as a matter of fact — have inferiority complexes? It's because all of their thinking is based on a false premise. The false premise is that we compare ourselves with other people, when this is actually something we should never do, since there are no two human beings alike. Everybody on earth is inferior to everyone else in certain areas and superior in other areas. This is why the well-adjusted person, the person who knows himself, isn't bothered because he can't dance as well as so-and-so or play golf or bridge as well as someone else. It would be completely impossible for any one human being to be as good at everything as every other human being.

In his fine book Psycho-Cybernetics (which eventually became a Nightingale-Conant product), Dr. Maxwell Maltz writes, "Inferiority and superiority are reverse sides of the same coin. The cure lies in realizing that the coin itself is spurious. You are not inferior or are not superior. You are simply you. You as a personality are not in competition with any other personality simply because there's not another person on the face of the earth like you or in your particular class. You are an individual. You are unique. You are not like any other person. You're not supposed to be like any other person. And no other person is supposed to be like you."

The doctor goes on to write, "God did not create a standard person and in some way label that person by saying ‘this is it.' He made every human being individual and unique just as he made every snowflake individual and unique. He created short people and tall people, large people and small people, skinny people and fat people, black, yellow, red, and white people. He has never indicated any preference for any one size, shape, or color."

Abraham Lincoln once said, "God must have loved the common people, for he made so many of them." He was wrong. There is no common man, no standardized common pattern. He would have been near the truth had he said, "God must have loved uncommon people, for he made so many of them." Incidentally, you ought to get that program.

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Anybody can make himself feel inferior if he didn't realize that he's unlike any other human being who ever lived on earth. If he understands fully and completely, intellectually and emotionally, that he's unique and different, he cannot have an inferiority complex. How could he, since there's no standard against which to judge if every person is different. And every person is different.

Nothing on earth happens purely by accident. A person is living because he was meant to live and he has talents and abilities that are totally his own, unique with him. His job then as a person is to learn to know himself. If he does, he'll like himself, or he'll discover that he's quite a person after all. He'll recognize and accept the things that he cannot do as well as some other people, but he'll also understand and appreciate those things that have been given him to do well.

A human being, any human being, is the finest, the noblest, the most godlike creature ever produced on earth. Not to be thankful for such a gift is the worst kind of ignorance. And an inferiority complex is a phantom, a ghost with no real substance; in the light of knowledge, it disappears.

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