Napoleon Hill, in his all-time classic Think and Grow Rich, told the story of Dan Halpin, who after graduating from college during the Great Depression in the 1930s, took the first job he could find as an electrical hearing aids salesman.
Given the devastating conditions of the Great Depression, most people would be thankful to just have a job. But Halpin was not prepared to settle for a job at the bottom of the ladder. He decided to take actions to pull himself up. He aimed first at the job of the assistant sales manager of his company, and got it.
That singular step upward placed Halpin high enough above the crowd for him to be able to see even greater opportunities.
It also placed him where opportunity could see him. Within a short period, a rival company hired Halpin as its sales manager and in six months he rose to become the company’s vice president.
Halpin achieved in six short months, what takes others more than ten years of dedicated effort to do!
Dan Halpin’s story has many morals, one of which was that you should always aim for the top.
Aiming for the top puts you high above the crowd, which makes it possible for you to have better views of opportunities around you. My favorite college professor used to tell us to always aim for the top because there is more room at the top than at the bottom; the bottom is often too crowded.
Opportunities can see you and come to you when you stand up. Mr. Halpin would not have been noticed by the rival company that hired him out if he had remained at the bottom of the ladder.
You see, although there are many stories of rags to riches, the fact remains that the vast majority of people who started out at the bottom never manage to lift their heads high enough to be seen by those who count.
The bottom is a monotonous, dreary, unprofitable and uncomfortable place for any person. The outlook from the bottom is often not bright or encouraging. As Napoleon Hill puts it: “The bottom has a tendency to kill off ambition. You get into a rut, and you accept your fate because you form the habit of daily routine.”
It is human nature to be influenced by our peers – for ill or for good. If you aspire for the top and therefore, have people with the same aspirations as your peers, their successes will rub off of you. Similarly, if you settle for the bottom and therefore, have people at the bottom as your peers, your influences will likely be those of poverty and failures.
Success loves the company of successes; failure loves the company of failures.
Another lesson from Dan Halpin’s story was the importance of speed. Halpin did not wait for twenty years to become a corporate vice president. He made it in six months! Dan Kennedy calls this kind of progress “The Phenomenon” — the ability to accomplish immense success with speed.
So leap and sprint; do not crawl. Be impatient with slowness.
Accelerate your progress with bold and audacious steps. Always remember this: fortes fortuna adiuvat (fortune favors the bold).
Your detractors might say you’re ambitious; but the fact of the matter is that people without ambitions rarely achieve any success. If you do not have ambition, you can never rise above the lower rungs of the ladder.
Do not settle for low position and mediocrity. Aim for the sky … and with speed.