The Power of Believing in Yourself

By Janet Walgren 

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it. This suggests that the best way to know what is coming is to put yourself in charge of creating the situation you want.”

~Arnold H. Glasow 

My youngest daughter graduated from college last week. It was a grand occasion full of excitement and anticipation. As the mother of six children, seven step-children, and the sister of nine, I have been to a lot of graduation ceremonies in my lifetime. This one was noticeably different in one regard – the commencement speech. Every commencement speech that I have ever heard has been full of promise where speakers tell the new graduates about the opportunities that await them due to their years of preparation. This time, the commencement speaker counseled the graduates to believe in themselves. They were told not to wait for opportunities to come knocking at their doors. Instead, the graduates were told to make their own opportunities so that they would not be left behind.  

Have you ever considered what our world would be like if some incredible people didn’t make their own opportunities and believe in themselves? The following quotes from famous people who were considered experts in their fields will give you some interesting insights into the power of believing in yourself: 

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”
Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
Charles H. Duell, Commission, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”
Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943. 

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
Decca Recording Co., rejecting the Beatles, 1962

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olson, President, Chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977. 

There have been many changes in our world since 1895 when the first quote was spoken. History has proven these experts’ opinions were very wrong. Consider what would have happened if the Wright brothers had believed Lord Kelvin or Philo T. Farnsworth had listened to Charles Duell.  

Philo T. Farnsworth is best known for inventing the television but he held 300 U.S. and foreign patents at the time of his death. He was responsible for or instrumental in the development of  the infant incubator, the first electron microscope, radar, and peacetime uses of atomic energy. It is worthy of notice that his genius for inventing wonderful things that now bless the lives of all of us was accompanied by more than his share of financial and legal trials as well as the trial of loosing a child. Philo T. Farnsworth struggled all his life with obstacles that would have stopped most men in their tracks but he believed in himself and never gave up. 

I was living in the Detroit area during a slump in the auto industry in the late 80’s. Although I was not in real estate at that time, I remember a newspaper article about a real estate agent who, unlike her colleagues, was very successful during the slump. When she was asked what set her apart, why she was so successful when everyone else was failing miserably, she responded that it was her attitude. She said that everyone else was listening to the expert’s gloomy forecasts and telling themselves that no one was going to buy a house because the city was in a recession. She simply told herself that because the auto industry was in a slump; her clients had a lot of time to find the perfect property… their dream house. What others viewed as an obstacle, she viewed as an opportunity. 

“Consider what is coming, what needs to happen and how you can rise to the occasion. Stay loose. Remain flexible. Be light on your feet. Instead of changing with the times, make a habit of changing just a little ahead of the times.”

~Arnold H. Glasow 

Today there are many “experts” in our world who are preaching doom and gloom. This presents a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs. Follow the example of those who bucked the trend by not listening to gloomy forecasts. Many have amassed fortunes by believing in themselves; you can do the same.

I would like to wish all of the new college graduates the best in life. Congratulations! 

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3 Responses to The Power of Believing in Yourself

  1. Shirley says:

    Hi Janet–This reminded me of an inspiring movie we recently saw, “Something the Lord Made.” It’s about operating on ‘blue babies.’ Until the 1940’s it was thought to be impossible that surgery could be done on the heart, at all. In fact, evidently it was even considered sinful to think of doing such. The movie is about two guys who believed it could be done. It’s a really good movie (though the doctor has quite a temper and lets out with some bad language.) I still recommend it heartily.

    Thanks for this post. I loved those quotes!

  2. marlajayne says:

    I just read this post and enjoyed it, especially since it relates to my word of the year: believe. There are so many wonderful things (books, articles, scripture verses) written on this topic, and one of the books that comes to mind this morning is The Power of Positive Thinking. I bought it at a yard sale this past fall, and although I’ve heard of it for years, it wasn’t until then that I actually read and was influenced by Dr. Peale’s powerful words to believe in yourself.

  3. Marlajayne, I’m glad that you liked it. I just checked out Who Moved My Cheese? after reading your blog. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Belief + Action. What a formula for the New Year.

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