Dale Carnegie knew from bitter and costly experience that the only true path to success is to be yourself and not try to emulate others. When he first came to New York from the cornfields of Missouri, he aspired to be an actor and enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
He studied famous actors of that time period, including the likes of John Drew, Walter Hampden, and Otis Skinner, until he was able to imitate their effects. But when his hard work didn’t lead to any success as an actor, he finally realized how silly and absurd his efforts were. He had wasted years of his life imitating other people before it dawned on him that he had to be himself, and couldn’t possibly be anyone else.
Carnegie liked to tell the story of the advice that Irving Berlin once gave to George Gershwin. When Berlin and Gershwin first met, Berlin was famous, but Gershwin was a struggling young composer working for thirty-five dollars a week in Tin Pan Alley. Berlin, impressed by Gershwin’s ability, offered Gershwin a job as his musical secretary at almost three times the salary he was then getting. “But don’t take the job,” Berlin advised. “If you do, you may develop into a second-rate Berlin. But if you insist on being yourself, someday you’ll become a first-rate Gershwin.”
Perhaps the best quote to exemplify finding and being yourself comes from the famous artist, Pablo Picasso, who said: “My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”
Remember to always strive to find and be yourself and true success is bound to follow.
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