This Book is For:

*Ambitious strivers who tend to have plenty of great, big ideas, yet struggle to put the necessary self-discipline into place to realize them.

*Everyone who feels uninspired or unfulfilled as they go about their days, yet isn't ready to give up the search for more life wherever it can be found.

*Strong individuals with a monumental work ethic, but with no direction, no grand vision guiding their actions, who want to find a purposeful means of expression for their tremendous energies.

*Anyone who wants to read a short, fiery, beautiful book that they can keep coming back to whenever they need a reminder of what's truly possible for a single solitary dreamer to achieve.


“What a fortune he possesses in the marvelous mechanism of his body and mind. It is individual effort that has achieved everything worth achieving."

-Orison Swett Marden

Weakness of will is the only thing stopping you from achieving everything you've ever wanted to achieve in this life.

The opportunities for great achievement and relentless goal attainment are abundant today, but it's the will to achieve that's scarce, the will to keep going that's lacking, and the will to drive forward no matter what that's going to be the difference-maker between your outstanding success and dismal failure.

Too bold? I don't think so. All the leading researchers in the field of psychology and personal success know that willpower is the single greatest predictor of all eventual achievement. It is the thing to focus on if you want to make damn sure that you live your one and only life with no regrets, and capture everything you came here for.

Luck exists, but volume and perseverance negate luck. We create a substantial portion of our own luck by being tenacious, relentless, and irrepressible. This book, An Iron Will, is a classic from all the way back in 1901(!) that will help you become exactly that: irrepressible.

In many ways, it's exactly what you might expect from something written so long ago: the language can be difficult to navigate at times, but it's also straightforward, yet poetic and beautiful. Even gorgeous, at times. The author doesn't try to show you how smart he is by obfuscating his meaning, he just throws example after example of human greatness in your direction and reminds you that you're capable of expressing that very same greatness in your own life.

Orison Swett Marden was the pre-eminent self-help authority in the earliest parts of the 20th century, and he was also the founder of SUCCESS Magazine, a publication that's still going strong today. If you think of people like Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Stephen R. Covey, Tony Robbins, and Zig Ziglar - Orison Swett Marden was the man who inspired their journeys of personal development.

In An Iron Will, Marden explores the importance of mental discipline, toughness, and perseverance to our happiness and success. He also brings forward such profound truths that we'll explore later in this breakdown, such as the truth that the world tends to take us at our own valuation and believes in the person who believes in themselves.

Marden was a man who had an unshakeable belief in himself and others, and used what he knew and believed about human strength and potential to inspire millions of people to pull energies and capacities out of themselves that they never even suspected actually laid within.

He also achieved an incredible amount himself, earning academic degrees in science, arts, medicine and law, before going on to found the magazine, growing it to half a million subscribers, and becoming the owner of several hotels and a resort.

Regardless of what you intend to achieve, An Iron Will is how you'll arm yourself with the strength and power necessary to achieve it.

In the Key Ideas below, we'll discuss how the search for certainty is a dangerous dead end; why doubts are the greatest of enemies; why it's more important to take a thousand steps in one direction, than one step in a thousand directions; we'll also discover why you need to place the crown upon your own head, instead of waiting for others to do it for you.

External achievements will never heal internal wounds. That's asking too much of the world - and too little of yourself. It's more about who you become on the way to great accomplishment and fantastic heights, but I can tell you right now that on that lifelong path toward mastery and success, you will find no greater traveling companion than your own iron will.

Key Ideas:

#1: He Who Waits for Certainty Never Wins

“Those who have accomplished great things in the world have been, as a rule, bold, aggressive, and self-confident. They dared to step out from the crowd, and act in an original way. They were not afraid to be generals.

There is little room in this crowding, competing age for the timid, vacillating youth. He who would succeed today must not only be brave, but must also dare to take chances. He who waits for certainty never wins."

It's widely known that people in New York City have a faster walking pace than people who live in smaller cities. NYC is actually 8th in the world in average walking speed (who runs these studies?!), but for people used to a slower rhythm of life, it can come as a little bit of a shock.

New Yorkers always seem to be rushing, pushing, and striving, and it certainly wouldn't occur to you to call the average New Yorker timid. Their reputation calls to mind high achievement, skyscrapers, and boundless confidence - in other words, a whole city full of people who weren't afraid to be generals.

If you want to achieve great things, your days as a shy, timid sloth are limited. You have to get out there; you have to command energy and attention; you have to rise to the front and be unashamed about doing so. Unafraid. Bold. Aggressive (without being a jerk). Self-confident. If you allow your pace to fall behind, you'll be swallowed up by the rushing tide.

What I like to remind myself of is that magisterial individuals like Napoleon, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great were real people - they actually lived on this earth. And part of their genetic makeup exists within you and I. They actually existed, and they weren't all that different from you and I.

You can be great. You can achieve great things. You can manifest great achievements, and you don't have to sit around waiting for anyone else's permission. You don't have to wait for someone else to crown you "worthy" of high achievements. You can just go out and make them real.

Take action. Never reject yourself first. Remember: timid salespeople have skinny kids. And though the meek shall inherit the won't be in this lifetime.

#2: Doubts Are the Greatest of Enemies

“Are not doubts the greatest of enemies? If you would succeed up to the limit of your possibilities, must you not constantly hold to the belief that you are success-organized, and that you will be successful, no matter what opposes?

You are never to allow a shadow of doubt to enter your mind that the Creator intended you to win in life's battle.

Regard every suggestion that your life may be a failure, that you are not made like those who succeed, and that success is not for you, as a traitor, and expel it from your mind as you would a thief from your house."

The mind is the starting point of all great achievement. It's where everything begins, and you must ruthlessly curate your own reality to let in only the best thoughts, the best ideas, and those beliefs that will take you exactly where you want to go, and even beyond that.

In the spirit of the above quote, take a census of your current thoughts and beliefs and violently expel those of weakness, failure, and defeat. Build a fortified wall between your mind and those negative thoughts that will do nothing but drag you to ruin and failure.

Doubts are your sworn enemy and they have NO PLACE within the confines of your mind. You're allowed to question your current path, of course, and interrogate whether or not what you're doing right now is working, what you could be doing better, etc. But the purpose of those thoughts is not to sow doubt, but to do better. Doubt your methods and beliefs, but never doubt yourself.

#3: Place the Crown Upon Your Own Head

“The world takes us at our own valuation. It believes in the man who believes in himself, but it has little use for the timid man, the one who is never certain of himself; who cannot rely on his own judgement, who craves advice from others, and is afraid to go ahead on his own account.

It is the man with a positive nature, the man who believes that he is equal to the emergency, who believes he can do the thing he attempts, who wins the confidence of his fellow-man."

The great depth psychologist Carl Jung once said, "The world will ask you who you are. And if you don't know, the world will tell you." I think about that quote almost weekly, sometimes daily.

The world will also offer you abundant opportunities to stand up and declare that "I AM." But will you step forward and declare it? Will you place the crown upon your own head? No one else will do it for you, but few will question it once you do. You can just declare that you have what it takes to achieve great things, that you are exactly the hero that the situation calls for, and most people - the world - will just believe you. They will take you at your own valuation.

Conversely, if you say that you're not good enough, that you're not ready, that you're not that special or talented or worthy - the world will believe you when you say that too.

Remember, you are THE hero that the world needs, not A hero. "A" implies one among many, whereas "THE" is a declaration that you are a one-of-a-kind force of nature with the talents, skills, and fortitude to be able to make it no matter what. Naturally, you need to be able to back it up, but the first step towards bending the world to your will is to FORCE IT to recognize you and your indisputable greatness.

#4: To Live is to Achieve

“He who is silent is forgotten; he who does not advance falls back; he who stops is overwhelmed, distanced, crushed; he who ceases to become greater, becomes smaller; he who leaves off gives up; the stationary is the beginning of the end - it precedes death; to live is to achieve, to will without ceasing."

I'll say again: An Iron Will is just such an underrated work of art, of poetry. I mean, just read that quote again! It's beautiful! And as always, there's a ton of truth there as well. The only choice in your life is between progress and death.

The universe is constantly succumbing to the forces of entropy, or a gradual dissolution of its energy, unless new energy is added to the system, the energy of renewal and abundant life. It is YOUR responsibility to provide this energy and life, or else the natural result will be retreat, stagnation, and death.

The only constant in the universe is change, and if the universe didn't evolve, it would eventually grind to a halt and die. It's the same with people. We need to stay in motion, constantly reinventing ourselves, or else we start falling backwards, getting smaller and weaker until we gradually fade away.

Don't just sit around waiting to die! Live! Inject new life into your life, and command the energy around you and within you to bend circumstances to your will. Evolve, advance, push forward, and build.

#5: Connect Your Fragmentary Efforts

“Many a man would have been a success had he connected his fragmentary efforts. Spasmodic, disconnected attempts, without concentration, uncontrolled by any fixed idea, will never bring success. It is continuity of purpose alone that achieves results."

You can either take one step in a thousand directions and never end up anywhere, or you can take a thousand steps in one direction and wind up further than you could have ever imagined.

In the same way, you can try chopping down a tree by hammering a thousand different spots and hoping for a miracle, or you can assault one area of the trunk exclusively, battering it until either the tree falls or you do.

Connect your fragmentary efforts. Bring all your personal force and power to bear upon one point and hammer away at it with everything you've got.

Just write this one book, instead of starting three novels, one memoir, and a work of narrative nonfiction. Start one business, build one income stream, and build it into a $1M per month empire, instead of starting six businesses and never building any momentum at all.

One step, one swing of the axe is nothing. But a thousand steps, a thousand swings of the axe upon one single point of focus brings the mightiest tree crashing down to earth.

#6: Ignore the Paradise on Either Side

“A man who can resolve vigorously upon a course of action, and turns neither to the right nor to the left, though a paradise tempt him, who keeps his eyes upon the goal, whatever distracts him, is sure of success."

More poetry! Marden had a gift for it, for sure. In this case, a "paradise" can be taken to mean any lesser goal whatsoever.

Paradise represents "good enough," something that's "okay," but isn't precisely the End Goal. It's cheap pleasure and comfortable stagnation, an attractive off ramp along the highway of success.

Say you're driving down the highway. There will be all these exists, off ramps, temptations to lure you away from the main road. Maybe you can stop here for a little while, rest a bit, look at a map, pick up the journey again tomorrow...

This is a trap. The off ramps exist to tempt the weak and the half-hearted. They're not for you. Your paradise is further along the road, and you cannot stop until you get there. And there will be lots of good "reasons" to stop. But you never can.

#7: Every Action Must Serve the One Great Aim

“The fortunate is he whose earnest purpose never swerves, whose slightest action or inaction serves the one great aim."

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The 24 hours we're given each day are barely enough to achieve everything we ever wanted. We have not a single moment to spare that we can devote to anything less than our perfect future. You must always keep this desired future in mind, and every single thing you do has to be bringing you closer to it, not further away.

This absolutely does not mean that you can't appreciate where you are right now. You certainly can. And probably should! Always living for the future is no way to live.

But every single thing we do is either a +1 or a -1 when it comes to achieving our goals and completing our journey. Forwards or backwards, those are your two options. A healthy sandwich and a salad is a +1, and a greasy cheeseburger is a -1. A sales call is a +1, and refreshing your follower stats is a -1, because it's energy that you could be devoting to getting closer to your one great aim.

#8: The Will Becomes Strong by Exercise

“The way to learn to run is to run, the way to learn to swim is to swim. The way to learn to develop willpower is by the actual exercise of willpower in the business of life."

Marden hits the proverbial nail on the head with this one. We learn and develop by doing, and the growth of willpower is no different. To gain more of it, we have to exhibit more of it, and the only way to do this is to do the things that require more willpower than we have right now.

We have to extend ourselves a little bit further than we've gone previously - stretch ourselves a little bit - and so expand our capacities through progressive overload. This is how you build muscle at the gym too. You lift a little more than last time, forcing your muscles to adapt to a greater stressor. Then, you go home, eat, and recover, and your body builds itself up, bigger and stronger than it was before:

"The will becomes strong by exercise. To stick to a thing till you are master, is a test of intellectual discipline and power."

#9: Call Out Your Best Energy

The truest help we can render one who is afflicted is not to take his burden from him, but to call out his best energy, that he may be able to bear."

-Bishop Brooks

Do you want an easy life? Or the strength to endure a difficult one?

That's the question that's embedded within the above quote. Brooks is asking whether it's best to make life softer for the individual, or to make them harder. His answer is that when we call out our best energy - when we call upon the reserves of force and power that lie just under the surface in all of us, we can bear the heaviest burdens and keep moving forward.

As they say, prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.

#10: Electrify Yourself

“Never admit defeat or poverty. Stoutly assert your divine right to hold your head up and look the world in the face; step bravely to the front whatever opposes, and the world will make way for you.

No one will insist upon your rights while you yourself doubt that you have any. Believe you were made for the place you fill. Put forth your whole energies. Be awake, electrify yourself; go forth to the task."

Book Notes:

“The education of the will is the object of our existence."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A character is a completely fashioned will."

-John Stuart Mill

“They simply do what they planned. Such men can no more be stopped than the sun can be, or the tide.”

"I don't do more, but less, than other people. They do all their work three times over: once in anticipation, once in actuality, once in rumination. I do mine in actuality alone, doing it once instead of three times."

-Henry Ward Beecher

“Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes, is oft but Perseverance in disguise."

-C.C. Cameron

“Be thou a hero; let thy might

Tramp on eternal snows its way,

And through the ebon walls of night,

Hew down a passage unto day."

-Park Benjamin

“There is always room for a man of force.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Teach the world that there is some iron in you.”

“Genius unexecuted is no more genius than a bushel of acorns is a forest of oaks.”

“The best men are not those who have waited for chances, but who have taken them; besieged the chance; conquered the chance; and made chance the servitor."

“The law of the soul is eternal endeavor,

That bears the man onward and upward forever."

“His whole being glowed with conscious strength.”

“The world turns aside to let any man pass who knows whither he is going."

-David Starr Jordan

“It is wonderful how even the apparent casualties of life seem to bow to a spirit that will not bow to them, and yield to assist a design, after having in vain attempted to frustrate it."

-Elizabeth George Speare

"The man who succeeds must always in mind or imagination live, move, think, and act as if he gained that success, or he never will gain it."

-Prentice Mulford

“‘What would you do if you were besieged in a place entirely destitute of provisions?' asked the examiner, when Napoleon was a cadet. 'If there were anything to eat in the enemy's camp, I should not be concerned.'"

“His very physique was eloquent. Men yielded their wills to his at sight.”

“Nothing helps the brain more than a healthy body.”

“Such self-training, such self-conquest, gives one great power over others. It is equal to genius itself."

“What else is so grand as to stand on life's threshold, fresh, young, hopeful, with a consciousness of power equal to any emergency - a master of the situation? The glory of a young man is his strength."

“Mere absence of disease is not health. It is the overflowing fountain, not the one half full, that gives life and beauty to the valley below.

Only he is healthy who exults in mere animal existence; whose very life is a luxury; who feels a bounding pulse throughout his body; who feels life in every limb, as dogs do when scouring over the field, or as boys do when gliding over fields of ice."

“Who best can suffer, best can do.”

-John Milton

“Illness is one of those things which a man should resist on principle.”

“He was a great miser of spare moments, and used every one as though he might never see another."

“By being first-class barbers, tinkers, shoemakers, rail-splitters, tanners, they acquired the power which enabled them to become great inventors, authors, statesmen, generals."

"Let Fortune empty her whole quiver on me,

I have a soul that, like an ample shield,

Can take in all, and verge enough for more;

Fate was not mine, nor am I Fate's:

Souls know no conquerors."

-John Dryden

“Success in most things depends on knowing how long it takes to succeed."


“Go on, sir, go on. The difficulties you meet with will resolve themselves as you advance. Proceed; and light will dawn, and shine with increasing clearness on your path."

“The time will come when you will hear me."

-Benjamin Disraeli

“Everybody believes in the determined man.”

“The persistent man never stops to consider whether he is succeeding or not. The only question with him is how to push ahead, to get a little farther along, a little nearer his goal. Whether it lead over mountains, rivers, or morasses, he must reach it. Every other consideration is sacrificed to this one dominant purpose."

“We pine for a sheltered lot, for a smooth path, for cheering friends, and unbroken success. But Providence ordains storms, disasters, hostilities, sufferings; and the great question whether we shall live to any purpose or not, whether we shall grow strong in mind and heart, or be weak and pitiable, depends on nothing so much as on our use of the adverse circumstances.

Outward evils are designed to school our passions, and to rouse our faculties and virtues into intenser action. Sometimes they seem to create new powers. Difficulty is the element, and resistance the true work of man.

Self-culture never goes on so fast as when embarrassed circumstances, the opposition of men or the elements, unexpected changes of the times, or other forms of suffering, instead of disheartening, throw us on our inward resources, turn us for strength to God, clear up to us the great purpose of life, and inspire calm resolution.

No greatness or goodness is worth much, unless tried in these fires."

-William Ellery Channing

"Better to stem with heart and hand

The roaring tide of life, than lie

Unmindful, on its flowery strand,

Of God's occasions drifting by!

Better with naked nerve to bear

The needles of this goading air,

Than in the lap of sensual ease forego

The godlike power to do, the godlike aim to know."

-John Greenleaf Whittier

Winning, by Tim Grover:

This book has some of the most “truth per page” of any book I’ve ever read. It's also absolutely not for everybody, in the same way that not everyone is built to compete and win at the highest levels of sports and business.

The reality is that most people just do not have what it takes to succeed at the highest level, and the people who do make it are the ones who have internalized Tim Grover's message in this book. He reminds us - through his words and example - exactly why he is one of the world’s most sought-after mindset experts.

Grover is an elite performance coach with over three decades of experience training the likes of Michael Jordan (who was actually his first client ever), Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and hundreds of other world champions and Olympic athletes. That's 30+ years of being surrounded by winners - never missing a practice or a game - and refining his approach to the point where it can be delivered at your feet in the form of this truth-studded book.

"Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," said Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time greats, and here in Winning, Tim Grover distills everything he knows about winning and lays out 13 key principles for achieving unbeatable performance.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“It’s only one game…until you miss the playoffs by only one game.”

“Winning is not a marathon; it’s a sprint with no finish line.”

"Your mind is your area to dominate, and if you don’t dominate it, someone else will."

Read the Full Breakdown: Winning, by Tim Grover

Discipline is Destiny, by Ryan Holiday:

Self-discipline has traditionally been a hard sell. Self-indulgence, quick dopamine hits, and having a good time have been winning the marketing battle lately, similar to the "battle" between chocolate and asparagus. Or between reality television and educational documentaries.

But what if the problem is simply that we've been thinking about self-discipline in entirely the wrong way?

Up until now, self-discipline may have been the equivalent of a Henry James novel in a TikTok world. But Ryan Holiday's book, Discipline is Destiny, will have you reimagining the whole concept in a much more liberating, fulfilling way.

His aim is to teach you how to harness the powers of self-discipline to fulfill your personal destiny. While everyone's destiny is fundamentally different, everyone's destiny is the product of self-discipline. Your habits shape your character, and your character shapes your destiny, so Ryan's book goes right to the root and gives you the physical, mental, and emotional skillsets for success.

In the final analysis, self-discipline is prescriptive. It will show you your future. Your environment, actions, habits, and mindsets are constantly shaping your destiny, and this book will show you how to guide this process more intelligently.

This involves thinking of self-discipline in the "proper" way: not as a punishment, as self-deprivation, but as it really is: a pathway to even greater freedom.

Some days will be hard. Actually, that's not true...many days will be hard. The hard days will outnumber the easy ones, but the meaningful days will also outnumber the meaningless ones. Living this way won't always be easy, but it will always be worth it.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“At the core of this idea of self-mastery is an instinctive reaction against anything that masters us. Who can be free when they have lost, as one addiction specialist put it, ‘the freedom to abstain?’”

“Think about it: Most people don’t even show up. Of the people who do, most don’t really push themselves. So to show up and be disciplined about daily improvement? You are the rarest of the rare.”

“How much progress could you make if you made just a little each day over the course of an entire life? What might this journey look like, where might it lead, if each bit of progress you made presented both the opportunity and the obligation to make a little more progress, and you seized those opportunities, you lived up to those obligations, each and every time?”

Read the Full Breakdown: Discipline is Destiny, by Ryan Holiday

Do Hard Things, by Steve Magness:

We've never really understood the true nature of mental toughness until now.

Before Steve Magness and the pioneering scientists whose research he presents in this book came along, we've seen only one side of it, and this book will show you that there's more to toughness than we usually realize and more inside you than you've ever known.

The old model of mental toughness was based on fear and ridicule, shame and doubt. It was based on hiding all evidence of weakness, and the old style of coaching and leadership involved yelling and screaming at people until they get closer to what we wanted them to be - not for the purpose of allowing them to reach their full potential.

That changes today, and it changes with this book, Do Hard Things.

Steve Magness is a high-performance coach and scientist who works with Olympic athletes and people of comparable ability and prowess, and his book is a compelling and useful attempt to "fix" our old definition of mental toughness and replace it with something more flexible, more insightful, and ultimately, more useful.

Do Hard Things draws from the very latest in science and psychology to teach us how we can work with our body, emotions, and feelings, and how we can shift the very meaning of discomfort in our minds by leaning in, paying attention, and allowing ourselves the mental freedom to perform at the highest level of which we are capable.

The new model of toughness is all about embracing reality, listening to what our body is trying to tell us, responding instead of reacting, and transcending discomfort by tapping into the deeper meaning behind it all. The old model made everything look like a nail, so the only tool it could offer us was a hammer.

There's everything in this book from mindfulness, military case studies, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and more, and it all comes together in a wonderful book that ends up being more growth-focused, intent on building you up, rather than tearing you down. Focusing on what's right with you, what you can accomplish, rather than what you lack or what is temporarily out of reach.

You already have everything you need within you in order to become more resilient, stronger, tougher, more flexible, and more adaptable. To paraphrase the great psychologist, Abraham Maslow, toughness isn't about adding something to you that isn't there already, it's about acting, striving, and competing as the person you are...with nothing taken away.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“Real toughness is experiencing discomfort or distress, leaning in, paying attention, and creating space to take thoughtful action. It’s maintaining a clear head to be able to make the appropriate decision.

Toughness is navigating discomfort to make the best decision you can. And research shows that this model of toughness is more effective at getting results than the old one.”

“Our ability to be ‘tough’ and handle adversity starts well before we even encounter any difficulty. It starts with embracing the reality of the situation and what you’re capable of.”

“The old model of toughness, in essence, throws people into the deep end of the pool but forgets that we need to first teach people how to swim.”

Read the Full Breakdown: Do Hard Things, by Steve Magness

Be Your Future Self Now, by Dr. Benjamin Hardy:

Dr. Benjamin Hardy is the world's leading expert on the science of prospection and the Future Self concept.

Be Your Future Self Now is one of the absolute best introductions to the field, and inside this book, you're going to learn exactly why having a vision for your own future development is so critically important.

But you're also going to receive practical instruction on how to apply the science here and now to make your actual life better. Immediately. Today.

This is a rather long and detailed breakdown, but basically, who and what you're becoming - and your thoughts about it - directly affect the quality of your experience in the here and now.

Not only that but when your imagined Future Self directs your behavior rather than your behavior being directed by your past, that can be the shift that changes your entire life's trajectory.

Instead of running away from something you don't want (pain in your past), you'll be moving toward an exciting future that gives meaning to all of your subsequent days. To this day.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“The first and most fundamental threat to your Future Self is not having hope in your future. Without hope, the present loses meaning. Without hope, you don't have clear goals or a sense of purpose for your life. Without hope, there is no way. Without hope, you decay."

“If you’re around people who have low expectations for you, you'll fall to those standards. If you're around people with high expectations, you'll rise to those standards."

“The more conscious you become of how everything you do right now impacts the person you are in the future, the better and more thoughtful your actions will be."

Read the Full Breakdown: Be Your Future Self Now, by Dr. Benjamin Hardy

The View from the Opposition:

No one's ideas are beyond questioning. In this section, I argue the case for the opposition and raise some points you might wish to evaluate for yourself while reading this book.

#1: Don't Be a Damn Fool About It

There's a great line from the comedian W.C. Fields, where he says:

"If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it."

That absolutely applies to our discussion here. Most people give up too early, but there are a substantial number of people who give up too late, wasting precious time and energy pursuing a goal that was never going to happen in the first place.

It can be very difficult to tell which camp you fall into, though, because nothing worth doing has a 100% chance of succeeding, and it's rarely immediately obvious whether what you're doing isn't working, or if it isn't working yet.

Accurate self-appraisal and a tough-minded honesty are called for here.

It can be difficult to be honest enough with yourself to admit that you should just give up, but you might be a lot better off in the long run after you take a step back, evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses and where you want to go, and recommit to a different, better path forward.

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Questions to Stimulate Your Thinking:

The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life. That's also how you get the absolute most out of any book that you decide to read:

You ask great questions the whole time - as though the book was on trial for its life.

Here in this section are a few questions that can help guide and stimulate your thinking, but try to come up with your own additional questions, especially if you decide to read this book the whole way through...

#1: "What is the value that you've placed on your own worth? Are you sure that it was you who gave you that value? Or did you unconsciously accept the world's idea of your true value?"

#2: "What do you believe about yourself that just isn't true? What 'truths' about yourself have you simply never bothered to question?"

#3: "Where have you been playing small until now? What bigger space can you occupy in the world? Where can you profitably deploy your natural talents and abilities so as to make the biggest possible impact?"

#4: "How have you actively trained your will today? What have you done to become stronger? More capable? More dangerous?"

#5: "Do you believe that you were meant for great things? Or do you believe that your 'place' is behind the veil of obscurity, making other people look big and powerful? When are you going to pierce that veil of obscurity, stand up, and make your power and presence known?"

"Judge a man by his questions, rather than by his answers."

Action Steps:

So you've finished reading. What do you do now?

Reading for pleasure is great, and I wholeheartedly support it. However, I am intensely practical when I'm reading for a particular purpose. I want a result. I want to take what I've learned and apply it to my one and only life to make it better!

Because that's really what the Great Books all say. They all say: "You must change your life!" So here, below, are some suggestions for how you can apply the wisdom found in this breakdown to improve your actual life.

Please commit to taking massive action on this immediately! Acting on what you've learned here today will also help you solidify it in your long-term memory. So there's a double benefit! Let's begin...

#1: Declare Your Value

Remember, the world takes you at your own valuation. That means, however, that the world will never recognize your value as long as you still believe that you have none.

There's another liberating truth that works in concert with this idea, namely, that most people actually don't care who you are, what you're doing, what you've done, what mistakes you've made - nothing like that. They don't care, and they're not actively trying to stop you.

Nobody cares - how horrible! But at the same time, nobody cares! You're completely and totally free. You can declare your own value, and you can force the world to accept it.

Obviously, your skills and abilities need to match up with what you're claiming about yourself, or you'll get found out eventually. This isn't about lying to yourself or others. It's about believing - acting as if - and growing into who you declare yourself to be.

It's just like if you were to walk into any office building and behave as though you belonged there. Very few people, if any, will question you. Now, realize that the entire world is like that.

You can be whomever you want to be. No one cares, no one is trying to stop you, no one can stop you. So believe. Act as if. Force the world to recognize who the fuck you are and who you are becoming.

#2: Go Higher and Harder

You've been hiding. You've been shrinking and shying away from your own potential, purposely playing small to avoid the challenges and responsibilities that come with being great. It's now time to go higher and harder.

The simple fact is that grander, more sweeping challenges call forth more from you than small ones. I mean, sure, if you want to be little, lift little weights. But if you want to be big, you lift big weights. It's like life.

The next step is to take on a bigger, more intimidating challenge, and prove to yourself that it's nothing compared to the size and strength of your will. What exactly that challenge will be remains up to you, but set goals that are 5-20% bigger than what you think you're capable of. Force yourself to grow to meet them.

#3: Aim for Progressive Overload

Continuing the example of lifting big weights at the gym, it's a fact in bodybuilding that in order to get bigger and stronger over time, you have to aim for progressive overload, meaning you continue to add weight, reps, and sets - intensity - to your training, over and over again until your body is forced to adapt.

Again, it's like life. You keep exposing yourself to greater and more difficult challenges, and your capabilities expand further, your will gets stronger, in an upward, never ending, virtuous cycle.

The only thing you have to keep in mind is that you can't afford to overwhelm yourself in the beginning. If your heaviest squat was 150lbs, don't start with 300lbs today. Start with 155lbs. Then, next week, move up to 160lbs, and 165lbs the week after that.

In the rest of your life, don't start off by running for Congress - start by running for mayor in your hometown. Don't walk up to a group of 7 of the most gorgeous women you've ever encountered in your entire life, just say hi to the cute girl behind the counter at your local coffee shop and look her in the eyes when you do so. Progressive overload.

Each time you "add on weight," you increase your capacity for greater challenges. That's what this is about. Once you've climbed one small mountain, the question then becomes, "What other mountains can I climb?"

It's also important to realize that even as you ascend higher and higher peaks, it's not that those mountains are getting any smaller. It's that you are getting bigger.

#4: Curate Your External Reality

Everything in your environment is impacting what you can perceive, what you have available as raw material to draw from in order to create and inform your worldview, your reality, and your idea of what's possible for you.

If your environment is populated by small people with small minds discussing small ideas and aiming for small goals (or no goals), how could you ever end up with anything other than a small life?

If you want a BIG life, you can't hang around with small, boring, mean, unmotivated, lazy people. They will bring you down and keep you there permanently if you let them, either consciously or unconsciously.

One of your greatest powers as an individual is your ability to curate your own reality and ruthlessly eliminate everyone and everything that is making you weaker and less motivated. Everything holding you back can be dissolved and destroyed, but you have to take the conscious step forward in belief and expel from them your fucking life from here on.

Henceforth from today, surround yourself with greatness. Surround yourself with decency, generosity, kindness, intelligence, warmth, ambition, and energy. Refuse to give in to the negativity, refuse to play smaller than you're capable of, and refuse to let anything enter your reality that isn't going to propel you towards your desired future.

#5: Go Five More

More bodybuilding references! Here we go! Tom Platz is one of my greatest inspirations, and what he said has implications that go far beyond bodybuilding, weightlifting, or strength training, etc. The gym is a training ground for life, and what you learn there can serve you in all other areas of your life too.

One of the many things you can learn in the gym is that you're capable of far more than you know. What Tom says is that there's always five more. Five more reps, five more attempts, five more shots, whatever. There's always five more.

Even when you think you're done - when you think you couldn't possibly give anything else to this thing that you're doing, when you think you're totally tapped out - there's always five more.

It all comes back to exercising the will. You always have five more, but you have to actively call upon your inner reserves if you ever want to achieve great things in the external world. Having five more left inside you does nothing without the willingness to call on those reserves when necessary.

So in any situation you find yourself in, look for ways to "give five more," to go just a little bit further than you think you can, a little bit further than most people would think is "reasonable." You can't be "reasonable" in pursuit of your highest goals. "Reasonable" people stop at the first sign of resistance, pain, and struggle.

In contrast, it's the "unreasonable" people, the ones with an unbreakable, iron will that end up moving the world.

"The path to success is to take massive, determined action."
-Tony Robbins

About the Author:

Orison Swett Marden (1850-1924) was an American writer associated with the New Thought Movement. He also held a degree in medicine, and was a successful hotel owner.

Marden was born in Thornton Gore, New Hampshire to Lewis and Martha Marden. When he was three years old, his mother died at the age of 22, leaving Orison and his two sisters in the care of their father, a farmer, hunter, and trapper.

When Orison was seven years old, his father died from injuries incurred while in the woods, and the children were shuttled from one guardian to another, with Orison working as a "hired boy" to earn his keep.

Inspired by an early self-help book by the Scottish author Samuel Smiles, which he found in an attic, Marden set out to improve himself and his life circumstances. He persevered in advancing himself and graduated from Boston University in 1871.

He later graduated from Harvard with an M.D. in 1881 and an LL.B. degree in 1882. He also studied at the Boston School of Oratory and Andover Theological Seminary.

Additional Resources:

Orison Swett Marden | Wikipedia

Other Marden Books | Project Gutenberg

This Book on Amazon:

An Iron Will, by Orison Swett Marden

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