This article is part of a series called
Antivirus For Your Mind.
in his fifties had written the manuscript for a book. Since he
lived in New York where all the publishers were back in those
days, he spent his spare time going into publishers offices
and asking them to look at his manuscript. Nobody was interested.
It can, of course, be disheartening to
get rejection after rejection. With enough setbacks (and poor
explanations of them) something happens that is worse than feeling
discouraged. The accumulating failures drain away your motivation.
Get disheartened enough and your goal starts to seem undesirable.
Even if you know how to motivate yourself,
if you dont know how to undemoralize yourself, youre
sunk. Why? Because you can be so thoroughly demoralized you lose
your desire to even try to motivate yourself, making your ability
to motivate yourself essentially worthless.
Thinking up goals is easy. Ideas about
what you want come easily to mind maybe even too easily.
And feeling motivated to take action (to accomplish a goal you
want) comes naturally to most healthy people. You want your goal
to happen, so of course youre motivated.
But if setting goals is easy and motivation
comes naturally, why dont you accomplish every goal you
set? Because setbacks demoralize you if you dont explain
It happened to the clergyman. One day,
while he was talking to his wife, he decided he had experienced
one setback too many and his goal to get his book published became
undesirable. He threw his manuscript in the trash, saying hed
Remember this, please: When you make mistakes
in your explanations, it not only nudges you toward failure and
giving up and depression, it leads to selling out.
The clergymans wife knew how much
the manuscript meant to him, so she reached into the trash can
to pull it out. No, he said, Ive wasted
enough time on it. I forbid you to take it out of there.
And she never did.
But the next day, she was thinking about
it and got an idea. She took the manuscript (still inside the
wastebasket) to another publisher. The publisher, intrigued by
this unusual way to bring in a manuscript, read it and loved
it. He published it, and boy is he glad he did! The book became
one of the bestselling books of all time!
The irony is that the book is The Power of Positive Thinking.
The story seemed too ironic to be true,
so I wrote to the Peales and asked if it was really true. I heard
back from Mrs. Peale, who said yes, thats the way it happened.
Positive thinking is different than explanatory
style. With positive thinking, Im sure Norman Vincent Peale
would have felt good about throwing that manuscript in the trash.
He would have kept his cheerful disposition.
With an unthwartable explanatory style,
he would have simply tried again, perhaps in a different way.
Were talking about the ability to
try again after a setback the ability to encounter a setback
without giving up in defeat or feeling the goal is hopeless.
What kind of hopeless explanation would
make someone throw away their lifes work? Norman must have
thought something like, My book is unpublishable.
Or Nobody wants it.
Mrs. Peale must have explained it differently.
Perhaps, It hasnt been seen by the right publisher.
Or maybe even, It hasnt been delivered the right
way yet. Perhaps in a trash can would get someones attention!
Read the next chapter: Defeatism