Read time: 6 minutes
My first impression of Ralph Waldo Emerson was this:
“The earth laughs in flowers.”
Cute. Very nice.
I read it on a tea bag in 2017. For a long time, it was the only context I had for his writing.
In a previous post, I mentioned that the most exciting facet of the rabbit hole was the truth about success in life. Not just financial success, but success in all five major arenas of fulfillment:
Great books tend to be full of great quotes from other great minds. A great quote is great because of its depth. In my obsessive consumption of timeless wisdom, I noticed a pattern. One guy in particular was quoted repeatedly. He was also highly revered. The “great,” the “immortal,” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Further, I noticed that one essay in particular was referred to constantly.
I read it, and boom goes the dynamite.
To say it left an impression would be an understatement.
This seminal work inspired my new program as well as a newfound purpose and direction for me in life. Also, my son's middle name is Emerson.
Reading Self-Reliance scratched at a nagging itch. It validated a hunch. Emerson doubled down on a theory I had been musing about and spoke to my intuition.
Oh, and he wrote it in 1841.
“Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other.”
Society loves conformity. Society is conformity.
The governing forces of society, “the powers that be,” want you to conform. The only way to become who you are capable of becoming is by rejecting the herd and living life on your own terms.
You can’t fix society, but you can fix yourself.
“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, for 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 is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”
We are all given a plot of ground (your life) to til. We have immense power within us. Our ability to create and innovate is limitless. Yet, most people’s dreams are left on the cutting room floor. Great works aren’t written. Masterpieces are buried in the ground alongside the man who failed to produce them.
“We but half express ourselves and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.”
And that’s just in the realm of art and creative expression. One thought, one idea, acted upon, can ripple through time and change the course of history. Your mind is capable of such thoughts. And deep down, you know it.
I’d argue this is the seed behind most people’s discontentment. A half-expressed life yields depression and anxiety. Too often, a person dwells on their past to solve the riddle of their present.
The solution is to think forward, not backward. Focus on the future—on who you are becoming and what you want to accomplish. Set a goal, then set out to achieve it.
“The man must be so much, that he must make all circumstances indifferent-put all means into the shade. This all great men are and do.”
If you can learn to harness your thoughts, success, as you define it, is yours for the taking.
Failure is reserved only for those who quit.
“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind.”
Everyone has a unique blend of skills, talents, perspective, and life experience. With focus, those attributes can be synthesized into something incredible. Or several somethings.
And that’s exactly why you are meant to conform and obey. Also the reason why you are criticized, demonized, or ostracized when you don’t.
Society may not be fixable, but you can influence its members.
“We are now men, and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.”
It’s the age-old battle of good versus evil, light versus dark. Every person ever has grappled with and participated in this fight. Whether consciously or not.
Your life and your existence serve to tip the scale on one end or the other. When a person gives up on themselves, when they recoil and retreat, when they allow life to beat them down, Darkness tallies a point.
Society’s governing forces (which originate in thoughts themselves) do not want you to walk away. They’re running a tight ship, and the individual who thinks for himself is a threat to the established order. Because of the impact on reality they're capable of having.
“For non-conformity the world whips you with its displeasure.”
This applies to “alternative” types as well. There's probably someone reading this right now who thinks I “should” be doing something else with my time and influence. I’m "supposed" to be exposing crimes and scams and warning people about what’s coming.
“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. You will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.”
I’ve worked closely with hundreds of people over the last few years. The common denominator among them is a lack of purpose. They want it. They know they're capable of it. The problem is that they spend too much time wondering and not enough time doing.
Action is the key.
“Your genuine action will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.”
Like Emerson said,
“None but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has TRIED.”
My purpose right now is to help men get unstuck and on track. (Sign up for a call.) But I didn’t get here through contemplation and navel-gazing. I am as surprised as anyone that this is where I’ve arrived. But I’m here because of my persistent commitment to helping people. I've stayed malleable and adjusted along the way.
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age.”
This is perhaps my favorite part of his essay.
AND… All of it represents opportunity for YOU.
You have a role to play in this story if you choose to accept it.
Start solving problems. Yours first.
Every problem you solve for yourself qualifies you to help someone else solve the same problem.
It’s a pretty simple formula for success.
“My life is not an apology, but a life. My life should be unique; it should be an alms, a battle, a conquest, a medicine.”
I could write ten more pages on this essay and its relevance. For the purposes of this letter, I’ll touch on one more passage.
“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company in which the members agree for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-Reliance is its aversion.”
This is one of the main reasons why The Self Reliant Way is currently only for men.
Men are the official scapegoats of society. We are blamed for almost everything.
Masculinity is considered toxic. Boys being boys is bad. The “patriarchy” is to blame for all inequality and injustice. A man is celebrated when he forgoes his manhood and castrates himself.
Society cuts men off at the knees.
The reason is obvious. The individual, the Self Reliant man, threatens the tenuous stranglehold of control.
Fear, in one form or another, keeps most men in their place. But remember this:
“To be great is to be misunderstood.”
Stop being mediocre. You know better.
If you’re ready to take the leap, I’m ready to help you.
Click Here to book a call today.
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