Think and Grow Rich
Desire Outwits Mother Nature
As a fitting climax to this chapter, I wish to introduce one of the most unusual persons I have ever known. I first saw him twenty-four years ago, a few minutes after he was born. He came into the world without any physical sign of ears, and the doctor admitted, when pressed for an opinion, that the child might be deaf, and mute for life.
I challenged the doctor's opinion. I had the right to do so, I was the child's father. I, too, reached a decision, and rendered an opinion, but I expressed the opinion silently, in the secrecy of my own heart. I decided that my son would hear and speak. Nature could send me a child without ears, but Nature could not induce me to accept the reality of the affliction.
In my own mind I knew that my son would hear and speak.
I was sure there must be a way, and I knew I would find it. I thought of the words of the immortal Emerson,
"The whole course of things goes to teach us faith. We need only obey. There is guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening, we shall hear the right word."
The right word?
More than anything else, I desired that my son should not be a deaf mute. From that desire I never receded, not for a second.
Many years previously, I had written,
"Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds."
For the first time, I wondered if that statement were true. Lying on the bed in front of me was a newly born child, without the natural equipment of hearing. Even though he might hear and speak, he was obviously disfigured for life. Surely, this was a limitation which that child had not set up in his own mind.
What could I do about it?
Somehow I would find a way to transplant into that child's mind my own burning desire for ways and means of conveying sound to his brain without the aid of ears.
As soon as the child was old enough to cooperate, I would fill his mind so completely with a burning desire to hear, that Nature would, by methods of her own, translate it into physical reality.
All this thinking took place in my own mind, but I spoke of it to no one. Every day I renewed the pledge I had made to myself, not to accept a deaf mute for a son.
As he grew older, and began to take notice of things around him, we observed that he had a slight degree of hearing. When he reached the age when children usually begin talking, he made no attempt to speak, but we could tell by his actions that he could hear certain sounds slightly.
That was all I wanted to know!
I was convinced that if he could hear, even slightly, he might develop still greater hearing capacity. Then something happened which gave me hope. It came form an entirely unexpected source.
We bought a Victrola. When the child heard the music for the first time, he went into ecstasies, and promptly appropriated the machine. He soon showed a preference for certain records, among them,
"It's a Long Way to Tipperary"
On one occasion, he played that piece over and over, for almost two hours, standing in front of the Victrola, with his teeth clamped on the edge of the case.
The significance of this self-formed habit of his did not become clear to us until years afterward, for we had never heard of the principle of "bone conduction" of sound at that time.
Shortly after he appropriated the Victrola, I discovered that he could hear me quite clearly when I spoke with my lips touching his mastoid bone, or at the base of the brain.
These discoveries placed in my possession the necessary media by which I began to translate into reality my Burning Desire to help my son develop hearing and speech. By that time he was making stabs at speaking certain words. The outlook was far from encouraging, but desire backed by faith knows no such word as impossible.
Having determined that he could hear the sound of my voice plainly, I began, immediately, to transfer to his mind the desire to hear and speak.
I soon discovered that the child enjoyed bedtime stories, so I went to work, creating stories designed to develop in him self-reliance, imagination, and a keen desire to hear and to be normal.
There was one story in particular, which I emphasized by giving it some new and dramatic coloring each time it was told. It was designed to plant in his mind the thought that his affliction was not a liability, but an asset of great value.
Despite the fact that all the philosophy I had examined clearly indicated that every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage, I must confess that I had not the slightest idea how this affliction could ever become an asset.
However, I continued my practice of wrapping that philosophy in bedtime stories, hoping the time would come when he would find some plan by which his handicap could be made to serve some useful purpose.
Reason told me plainly, that there was no adequate compensation for the lack of ears and natural hearing equipment . Desire backed by faith, pushed reason aside, and inspired me to carry on.
As I analyze the experience in retrospect, I can see now, that my son's faith in me had much to do with the astounding results. He did not question anything I told him.
I sold him the idea that he had a distinct advantage over his older brother, and that this advantage would reflect itself in many ways.
For example, the teachers in school would observe that he had no ears, and, because of this, they would show him special attention and treat him with extraordinary kindness. They always did. His mother saw to that, by visiting the teachers and arranging with them to give the child the extra attention necessary.
I sold him the idea, too, that when he became old enough to sell newspapers, (his older brother had already become a newspaper merchant), he would have a big advantage over his brother, for the reason that people would pay him extra money for his wares, because they could see that he was a bright, industrious boy, despite the fact he had no ears.
We could notice that, gradually, the child's hearing was improving. Moreover, he had not the slightest tendency to be self-conscious, because of his affliction.
When he was about seven, he showed the first evidence that our method of servicing his mind was bearing fruit. For several months he begged for the privilege of selling newspapers, but his mother would not give her consent. She was afraid that his deafness made it unsafe him to go on the street alone.
Finally, he took matters in his own hands.
One afternoon, when he was left at home with the servants, he climbed through the kitchen window, shinnied to the ground, and set out on his own.
He borrowed six cents in capital from the neighborhood shoemaker, invested it in paper, sold out, reinvested, and kept repeating until late in the evening. After balancing his accounts, and paying back the six cents he had borrowed from his banker, he had a net profit of forty-two cents.
When we got home that night, we found him in bed asleep, with the money tightly clenched in his hand.
His mother opened his hand, removed the coins, and cried. Of all things! Crying over her son's first victory seemed so inappropriate. My reaction was the reverse. I laughed heartily, for I knew that my endeavor to plant in the child's mind an attitude of faith in himself had been successful.
His mother saw, in his first business venture, a little deaf boy who had gone out in the streets and risked his life to earn money. I saw a brave, ambitious, self-reliant little business man whose stock in himself had been increased a hundred percent, because he had gone into business on his own initiative, and had won.
The transaction pleased me, because I knew that he had given evidence of a trait of resourcefulness that would go with him all through life. Later events proved this to be true.
When his older brother wanted something, he would lie down on the floor, kick his feet in the air, cry for it, and get it. When the "little deaf boy" wanted something, he would plan a way to earn the money, then buy it for himself. He still follows that plan!
Truly, my own son has taught me that handicaps can be converted into stepping stones on which one may climb toward some worthy goal, unless they are accepted as obstacles, and used as alibis.
The little deaf boy went through the grades, high school, and college without being able to hear his teachers, excepting when they shouted loudly, at close range. He did not go to a school for the dear. We would not permit him to learn the sign language. We were determined that he should live a normal life, and associate with normal children, and we stood by that decision, although it cost us many heated debates with school officials.
While he was in high school, he tried an electrical hearing aid, but it was of no value to him; due, we believed, to a condition that was disclosed when the child was six, by Dr. J. Gordon Wilson, of Chicago, when he operated on one side of the boy's haed, and discovered that there was no sign of natural hearing equipment.
During his last week in college, (eighteen years after the operation), something happened which marked the most important turning-point of his life. Through what seemed to be mere chance, he came into possession of another electrical hearing device, which was sent to him on trial. He was slow about testing it, due to his disappointment with a similar device. Finally he picked the instrument up, and more or less carelessly, placed it on his head, hooked up the battery, and lo! as if by a stroke of magic, his lifelong desire for normal hearing became a reality! For the first time in his life he heard practically as well as any person with normal hearing.
"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform."
Overjoyed because of Changed World which had been brought to him through his hearing device, he rushed to the telephone, called his mother, and heard her voice perfectly.
The next day he plainly heard the voices of his professors in class, for the first time in his life! Previously he could hear them only when they shouted, at short range.
He heard the radio. He heard the talking pictures. For the first time in his life, he could converse freely with other people, without the necessity of their having to speak loudly. Truly, he had come into possession of a Changed World.
We had refused to accept Nature's error, and, by persistent desire, we had induced Nature to correct that error, through the only practical means available.
Desire had commenced to pay dividends, but the victory was not yet complete. The boy still had to find a definite and practical way to convert his handicap into an equivalent asset.
Hardly realizing the significance of what had already been accomplished, but intoxicated with the joy of his newly discovered would of sound, he wrote a letter to the manufacturer of the hearing-aid, enthusiastically describing his experience. Something in his letter; something, perhaps which was not written on the lines, but back of them; caused the company to invite him to New York.
When be arrived, he was escorted through the factory, and while talking with the Chief Engineer, telling him about his changed world, a hunch, an idea, or an inspiration, call it what you wish, flashed into his mind. It was this impulse of thought which converted his affliction into an asset, destined to pay dividends in both money and happiness to thousands for all time to come.
The sum and substance of that impulse of thought was this:
It occurred to him that he might be of help to the millions of deafened people who go through life without the benefit of hearing devices, if he could find a way to tell them the story of his Changed World.
Then and there, he reached a decision to devote the remainder of his life to rendering useful service to the hard of hearing.
For an entire month, he carried on an intensive research, during which he analyzed the entire marketing system of the manufacturer of the hearing device, and created ways and means of communicating with the hard of hearing all over the world for the purpose of sharing with them his newly discovered "Changed World."
When this was done, he put in writing a two-year plan, based upon his findings. When he presented the plan to the company, he was instantly given a position, for the purpose of carrying out his ambition.
Little did he dream, when he went to work, that he was destined to bring hope and practical relief to thousands of deafened people who, without his help, would have been doomed forever to deaf mutism.
Shortly after he became associated with the manufacturer of his hearing aid, he invited me to attend a class conducted by his company, for the purpose of teaching deaf mutes to hear, and to speak.
I had never heard of such a form of education, therefore I visited the class, skeptical but hopeful that my time would not be entirely wasted.
Here I saw a demonstration which gave me a greatly enlarged vision of what I had done to arouse and keep alive in my son's mind the desire for normal hearing. I saw deaf mutes actually being taught to hear and to speak, through application of the self-same principle I had used, more than twenty years previously, in saving my son from deaf mutism.
Thus, through some strange turn of the Wheel of Fate, my son, Blair, and I have been destined to aid in correcting deaf mutism for those as yet unborn, because we are the only living human beings, as far as I know, who have established definitely the fact that deaf mutism can be corrected to the extent of restoring to normal life those who suffer with this affliction.
It has been done for one; it will be done for others.
There is no doubt in my mind that Blair would have been a deaf mute all his life, if his mother and I had not managed to shape his mind as we did. The doctor who attended at his birth told us, confidentially, the child might never hear or speak.
A few weeks ago, Dr. Irving Voorhees, a noted specialist on such cases, examined Blair very thoroughly. He was astounded when he learned how well my son now hears, and speaks, and said his examination indicated that "theoretically, the boy should not be able to hear at all." But the lad does hear, despite the fact that X-ray pictures show there is no opening in the skull, whatsoever, from where his ears should be to the brain.
When I planted in his mind the desire to hear and talk, and live as a normal person, there went with that impulse some strange influence which caused Nature to become bridge-builder, and span the gulf of silence between his brain and the outer world, by some means which the keenest medical specialists have not been able to interpret.
It would be sacrilege for me to even conjecture as to how Nature performed his miracle. It would be unforgivable if I neglected to tell the world as much as I know of the humble part I assumed in the strange experience. It is my duty, and a privilege to say I believe, and not without reason ,that nothing is impossible to the person who backs desire with enduring faith.
Verily, a burning desire has devious ways of transmuting itself into its physical equivalent. Blair desired normal hearing; now he has it! He was born with a handicap which might easily have sent one with a less defined desire to the street with a bundle of pencils and a tin cup. That handicap now promises to serve as the medium by which he will render useful service to many millions of hard of hearing, also, to give him useful employment at adequate financial compensation the remainder of his life.
The little "white lies" I planted in his mind when he was a child, by leading him to believe his affliction would become a great asset, which he could capitalize, has justified itself. Verily, there is nothing, right or wrong, which belief, plus burning desire, cannot make real. These qualities are free to everyone.
In all my experience in dealing with men and women who had personal problems, I never handled a single case which more definitely demonstrates the power of desire. Authors sometimes make the mistake of writing of subjects of which they have but superficial, or very elementary knowledge. It has been my good fortune to have had the privilege of testing the soundness of the power of desire, through the affliction of my own son.
Perhaps it was providential that the experience came as it did, for surely no one is better prepared than he, to serve as an example of what happens when desire is put to the test. If Mother Nature bends to the will of desire, is it logical that mere men can defeat a burning desire?
Strange and imponderable is the power of the human mind! We do not understand the method by which it uses every circumstance, every individual, every physical thing within its reach, as a means of transmuting desire into its physical counterpart. Perhaps science will uncover this secret.
I planted in my son's mind the desire to hear and to speak as any normal person hears and speaks. That desire has now become a reality. I planted in his mind the desire to convert his greatest handicap into his greatest asset. That desire has been realized.
The modus operandi by which this astounding result was achieved is not hard to describe. It consisted of three very definite facts;
first, I mixed faith with the desire for normal hearing, which I passed on to my son.
Second, I communicated my desire to him in every conceivable way available, through persistent, continuous effort, over a period of years.
Third, he believe me!
ここでの話のまとめとして、私が出会った優れた人物（most unusual person）を紹介しよう。
私が初めて彼と出会ったのは、彼が生まれて数分後のことだった。この赤ん坊には耳がなかった。医者は「一生、耳と言葉は不自由のままでしょう（The child might be deaf, and mute for life）」と言った。だが私はこの医者の診断を信じなかった。信じない権利が私にはあると思ったからだ。なぜなら私がその子の父親であったからである。
私は心の中で「息子は必ず聴覚を取り戻し、話せるようになる（my son would hear and speak）」と確信していた。必ずその方法があるはずだと思った。なぜそう私が確信したのか、合理的な説明はつかないが、私は何とかしてその方法を見つけ出そうと思った。そのとき私はエマーソン（Emerson）の言葉を思い浮かべていた。
The whole course of things goes to teach us faith.
We need only obey.
There is guidance for each of us.
耳をすませて静かに聞けば、正しい法則があなたにも聞こえてくるだろう。 And by lowly listening, we shall hear the right word.
その「正しい法則（the right word）」こそ、”願望（desire）”なのである。
私は息子ブレイアが「決して耳の聞こえない人間ではない（my son should not be a deaf mute）」ということを強い願望として頭に刻み込んだ。私のこの願望は、その後一度として私の中から消えたことはなかった。私は心の中でブレイアが回復すると確信していたのである。
こうして予想もしなかったこと（an entirely unexpected source）から希望の光が見えてきたのであった。
私が蓄音機（a Victola）を買って帰ってきた日のことだった。生まれて初めて音楽を聞いてブレイアはとても興奮し（went into ecstasies）、蓄音機がすっかり気に入ったように見えた。二時間以上も蓄音機の端を歯でかむような姿勢（with his teeth clamped on the edge of the case）をして、彼はレコードを聞いていたのである。
ブレイアのこの姿勢は、大変重要な意味を持っていたのだが、骨伝導（bone conduction, 骨の振動により音が伝わること）という現象を聞いたことがなかったので、私は何年もその意味がわからなかった。
ブレイアが蓄音機に飽きたころ、私は彼の頭骨の斜め下方の少しとがった骨の部分（mastoid bone, 乳状突起骨）に唇をあてて話してみた。そうするとよく聞こえているらしいことがわかった。こうして私の声が彼に聞こえていることがわかったので、私は直ちに、彼に「聞きたい、しゃべりたい」という願望を持たせようと考えた。
それから間もなくのことだが、私はブレイアが寝る前の物語（bedtime stories）を聞くのが好きなことを発見した。そこで私は彼に”聞こえるようになりたい”という強い願望（a keen desire）を抱かせるような童話をつくって、夜ごとに聞かせることにした。話すたべに、飽きがこないよう新しい脚色を加えつつ、その物語を繰り返し聞かせたのである。
このようにして、彼が背負っているハンディキャップ（liability）は負い目（affliction）でも何でもなく、大きな価値をもつ一つの財産（an asset of great value）であることを、彼の心に植えつけたかったのである。
「どんなハンディキャップも、それに匹敵するだけの利点をもっている（every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalant advantage）」とする考え方を、これまで私は実践し広めることに努めてきたが、当時は、正直のところブレイアのハンディキャップがいったいどうやって財産に転化し得るのか、まったく見当もつかなかった（I had not the slightest idea）。
今、当時の経験を振り返ってみると、息子の私に対する信頼（my son's faith in me）が驚くべき成果（the astounding results）に結びついたように思う。私が教えることに対して、彼は疑うということをしなかった（He did not question anything）。教えに対して、とても素直だったのである。
また、アルバイトで新聞売り（a newspaper merchant）になれるような年ごろになれば（そのとき彼の兄はすでに新聞売りのアルバイトをしていた）、兄よりも有利な立場になるであろうと教えてやった。買う人は、新聞売りの少年が耳がないにもかかわらず、一所懸命に仕事をしているのを見れば、励ましのためにより多くのチップ（extra money）をくれるに違いない、と考えたからである。事実そのとおりだった。
ある日の午後、わが家の使用人たちが気を許しているスキに、ブレイアは台所の窓から抜け出して表に出るのに成功した。そして近所の靴屋から6セントを借り、それで新聞を卸してもらってすぐに売り払い、その売り上げでもっと多くの新聞を買うということを、夕方まで繰り返し行ったのである。借りた6セントを耳をそろえて返してもなお、42セントの儲け（a net profit）があった。
母親は、耳の不自由な少年が哀れにも命がけでお金を稼いだという見方をしていた。しかし、ブレイアは私の目には、勇敢で自立した小さな実業家（a brave, self-reliant little business man）として映った。自分自身でやってのけたために余計にその価値は大きいものがある。このことで彼は彼自身の一生に役立つもの（evidence of a trait of resourcefulness）を得た、という感触が私にはあった。
教師たちがよほどの至近距離で大声で話してくれたときを除いて、ブレイアはほとんど耳が聞こえないまま、小学校、中学校、高等学校、大学を卒業した。聾学校（a school for the deaf）には通わなかった。私は彼に手話（the sign language）を習わせたくはなかった。彼には健常者（normal children）と付き合い、普通の人の生活（a normal life）をさせてやりたかったのだ。私にはそうできる、という確信があった。そして私は、その考えを貫き通したのである。もちろん、ときには学校関係者と熱い議論（heated debates）を交わすことにはなったが…。
高校生のころ、電気を使った補聴器（an electrical hearing aid）を使用してみたが、役には立たなかった。しかし、大学生活も残すところあと一週間というときに、彼の人生の最大の転機（the most important turning-point）となる出来事が起こったのである。
それは偶然のこと（mere chance）であったが、ある日、新しい補聴器（another electrical hearing device）を試してみる機会があった。あるメーカーが突然、見本（trial）として送ってきたのだ。似たような装置を用いてこれまでうまくいったことがなかったので、彼はあまり積極的に試そうという気は起きないようだった。ブレイアは無造作にその補聴器に耳をセットし、スイッチを入れてみた。
するとどうだろう。生まれてこのかた、ずっと念願してきた正常な聴力（normal hearing）が、まるで魔法のように（as if by a stroke of magic）現実のものとなったのである！ 生まれて初めて、普通の人と同じように聞くことができたのだ。この補聴器によって、まったく新しい世界（the changed world）が開けたのである。
ブレイアは飛びあがって喜び、母親に電話をかけに行った。そして母親の声を完璧に聞き取ることができたのである。また次の日には、授業中に教授の声をはっきりと聞き取ることができた。本当に初めて、他の人と自由に会話を交わすことができたのである。これはまさしく別世界（a Changed World）に飛び込んだようなものであった。
こうして願望はようやく叶いつつあった。しかしまだ、私たちは完全な勝利を手にしたとは思わなかった。というのも、私は彼が背負わせれた障害（Nature's error）を何らかの方法で、障害に匹敵するだけの財産（an equivalent asset）に転換する決意をしていたからである。
ブレイアは音のある世界という、生まれて初めての経験に恍惚としていた。そして、補聴器のメーカー（the manufacturer of the hearing-aid）に手紙を書き、熱っぽく（enthusiastically）自分の体験を報告した。手紙を読んだメーカーは、彼をニューヨーク（New York）に招いた。
ニューヨークに着くと、彼は工場を案内されながら、技師（the Chief Engineer）にまったく新しく開けた世界（his changed world）のことを話していた。
ちょうどそのとき、あるインスピレーション（an inspiration）が彼の頭に浮かんだ（flashed into his mind）。そのインスピレーションこそが、彼の障害を財産に変えるキッカケとなったのである。そのとき彼の心に浮かんだヒラメキ（impulse of thought）によって、耳の聞こえないまま一生を過ごさなければならない何百万人もの人々に、富と幸福を与えることができたのだ。
彼らに自分の体験（his changed world）を伝えることができれば、補聴器（hearing devices）を使用しないまま一生を終えてしまう数多くの耳の聞こえない人（the millions of deafened people）を助けることができるのではないか…。
こうして一ヶ月間、ブレイアは研究に没頭した。彼は補聴器メーカーのマーケティングを徹底的に分析したのである。ブレイア自身の喜びを「他の耳の聞こえない人々（the hard of hearing）とも分かち合おう」という強い願望に促されて、彼はがんばり通した。
もしブレイアが「ハンディを背負った人々に彼が体験した喜びと希望を与えたい（bring hope and practical relief to thousands of deafened people）」という願望をもたなかったら、これらの人々が喜びと希望を見出すのは、もっとずっと後になってからのことになっていたに違いない。
私たちは彼の心に、「聞きたい、話したい、普通の聴力をもった人として生きたい（hear and talk, and live as a normal person）」という燃えるような願望（a burning desire）を植えつけたのであるが、その願望は不可能を可能にする力（bridge-builder）を発揮して、彼の聴力をよみがえらせたのである。