When I was a small boy I heard a very dramatic speech on the subject of poverty which made a lasting impression upon my mind, and I am sure that speech was responsible for my determination to master poverty despite the fact that I had been born in poverty and had never known anything except poverty. The speech came from my stepmother shortly after she came to our home and took over one of the most forlorn, poverty-stricken places I have ever known.
The speech was as follows:
“This place which we call home is a disgrace to all of us and a handicap for our children. We are all able-bodied people and there is no need for us to accept poverty when we know that it is the result of nothing but laziness or indifference.
“If we stay here and accept the conditions under which we now live, our children will grow up and accept these conditions also. I do not like poverty; I have never accepted poverty as my lot, and I shall not accept it now!
“For the moment I do not know what our first step will be in our break for freedom from poverty, but this much I do know — we shall make that break successfully, no matter how long it may take or how many sacrifices we may have to make. I intend that our children shall have the advantage of good educations, but more than this, I intend that they shall be inspired with the ambition to master poverty.
“Poverty is a disease which, once it is accepted, becomes a fixation which is hard to shake off.
“It is no disgrace to be born in poverty but it most decidedly is a disgrace to accept this birthright as irrevocable.
“We live in the richest and the greatest country civilization has yet produced. Here opportunity beckons to everyone who has the ambition to recognize and embrace it, and as far as this family is concerned, if opportunity does not beckon to us, we shall create our own opportunity to escape this sort of life.
“Poverty is like creeping paralysis! Slowly it destroys the desire for freedom, strips one of the ambition to enjoy better things of life, and undermines personal initiative. Also, it conditions one’s mind for the acceptance of myriad fears, including the fear of ill health, the fear of criticism and the fear of physical pain.
“Our children are too young to know the dangers of accepting poverty as their lot, but I shall see to it that they are made conscious of these dangers, and I shall see to it also that they become prosperity conscious, that they expect prosperity and become willing to pay the price of prosperity.
I have quoted this speech from memory, but it is substantially what my stepmother said to my father in my presence shortly after they were married. That “first step” in the break from poverty, which she mentioned in her speech, came when my stepmother inspired my father to enter Louisville Dental College and become a dentist, and paid for his training with the life insurance money she received from the death of her first husband.
With the income from that investment in my father, she sent her three children and my younger brother through college and started each of them on the road to mastery of poverty.
As for myself, she was instrumental in placing me in a position where the late Andrew Carnegie gave me an opportunity such as no other author ever received–an opportunity which permitted me to learn from more than five hundred of the top-ranking, successful men who collaborated with me in giving the world a practical philosophy of personal achievement. A philosophy based on the “know-how” of my collaborators, gained from their lifetime experiences.
Source: You Can Work Your Own Miracles. Random House. 1996. Pgs. 75-76.
Article From: The Napoleon Hill Foundation.