One day a man said to me that he couldn’t seem to get ahead. I said, "Do your work so well that your employer can’t get along without you. Don’t be like the employee who is always looking at his watch and waiting to go home. Whatever your job, do it as well as possible."
The Three Stages of Success
The stages of success are the following: (1) Choosing a vocation that suits you. (2) Performing your work with attention, interest, and love. (3) Developing unfailing patience and ongoing interest.
1. Choose a vocation that suits you
Select your vocation according to your inner inclination and intuitive meditative guidance. Don’t seek success in a business you hate. Someone who is a vegetarian out of spiritual conviction, for example, should never go into a business of butchering animals or selling meat.
In my own case, it would have been folly to become a railroad man as was planned for me. I loved philosophy and religion from boyhood, and I made up my mind to establish my own schools and institutions and never hold a job under anyone.
By developing your concentration and creativity, you can learn to love any kind of work and succeed in any field. But it is better to use your creative ability in work to which you are instinctively attracted.
2. Perform your work with attention, interest and love
Developing your usefulness is the surest way of succeeding in any job. Take as much interest in the business as the owner. By "business" I mean any systematic plan to achieve a goal through self-help or the help of others. To lecture, run a religious organization, earn money, or sell something requires the application of business principles.
It’s important each day to add to your knowledge of your job. One of the most effective ways to do this is through creative thinking. By this I mean meditating and putting your entire concentration on how you can improve your performance, and how the business overall can be enhanced.
If you do this every day for at least a half-hour, your understanding of what will make for success will increase a hundredfold. For me, understanding and success came mainly through trust in God, meditation and creative thinking. For example, in 1925 when I was beginning a lecture series in San Francisco, I had only $200 in the bank and no other funds. When I mentioned this to my secretary, he nearly collapsed. I said: "What is the matter with you? God is with us. He won’t leave us now. In seven days He will give us all the money we need."
Sure enough, a few days later a man walked up to me and said: "I would like to help you." I argued:"But you do not even know me." He replied: "I know you from your eyes." Then and there he wrote me a check for $27,000.
Remember that your real employer is God. Anyone who works for God and respects those for whom he works can never fail. No matter how small your duty, do it with the cheerful, careful consciousness of pleasing God.
Many people think that unless they are "at it" in their jobs day and night they will not succeed. That is not true. Success comes from living in a balanced way and never sacrificing your daily engagement of meditation. Don’t let your business engagements always come first.
3. Develop unfailing patience and ongoing interest
Learn to tolerate a cranky employer by increasing your kindness and courtesy and inwardly ignoring his behavior. During meditation, concentrate at the point between the eyebrows and broadcast the following: "Father, calm my employer."
Avoid the pitfalls of mechanical habit by always thinking of how to improve what you are doing. You must express the limitless power of the soul in everything you do. Be in love with your present work but strive always to advance.
In striving to get ahead, take advantage of every opportunity for advancement but never infringe upon the rights of others. In Boston, I once had an experience that illustrates my point. The sidewalks were jammed with people coming home from work.
I said to myself: "Thousands are walking ahead of me, but I must be at the head of this crowd. If there is a little opening anywhere, I shall go through it." And so, wherever there was a space I went through it until I got to the head of the crowd.
This was fine because all I did was take advantage of my opportunity. I only went through where I saw a space. I never tried to push anyone out of his place.
Use your creative ability to develop your employer’s business so long as you can continue to learn or advance to a higher position. If your work becomes mechanical and there is no opportunity to advance, secure a position in a business where you can continue to grow creatively.
Material versus spiritual work
Destroy the false division between material and spiritual work. Only work done with a purely selfish motive is material. All work is spiritual if done with the goal of serving others. Businesses that concentrate on serving their customers with the best items at the lowest cost will always succeed.