I was reminiscing with two of our executives on the high estimate I placed on myself in earlier life – in my twenties. “I was a very important individual in my own eyes then,” I mused. “You have no idea how far I’ve skidded backward since then”.
They laughed. “Well,” exclaimed one, “I wish you’d give us the formula of how to go backward like that!”
Reflecting on this bit of banter later, I decided seriously it would be profitable to write that formula for all our readers. For it is the formula for the only kind of success that is real and satisfying and lasting.
For as long as I was important in my own eyes, I was actually of no more importance than a paper bag filled with air. True, I was ambitious. I worked hard, studied hard, drove myself on relentlessly to achieve what I then viewed as SUCCESS. But actually, as I know now, it was a striving after wind – pure vanity – a swelled-up self-exaltation that was like a toy balloon that will burst when pricked with a pin.
The skidding backward began with the flash depression of 1920, which sent numerous big corporations, among which were my main customers, to the wall. It was a national flash catastrophe over which I had no control. It left me, by 1922, a deflated, near-frustrated young man of 30. But not for long. I said: “I’ll bound back. You can’t keep a good man down.” Self-confidence returned. I began developing another business.