7 Must Read Success Lessons from Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Mr. Self Development

September 7, 2010   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American philosopher, poet, lecturer, and essayist. Emerson is most noted for leading the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was also regarded as a chief leader of individualism.

Emerson circulated his ideas through dozens of published essays, and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, expressing the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his classic 1836 essay, “Nature.”

Considered one of the great lecturers of his time, Emerson had an excitement and respect for his audience that captivated the crowds.

Emerson’s work has influenced nearly every generation of thinker, writer and poet since his time. Without further a due, here are seven success lessons from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

7 Must Read Success Lessons from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

1. Thoughts Become Things

“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”

Anyone who has successfully changed a bad habit knows that right thinking is the foundation for change. This person knows that to the degree their thinking has changed is to the degree their desires have changed. Desires are birth from thoughts. What are you thinking about? Whatever it is, it is creating your life.

What you ponder you become! Thoughts of success will produce success, and thoughts of failure will perpetuate failure. To change your life you must change your thinking. Thoughts are the root of all change.

2. The Compensation Principle

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

To help yourself you must help others. The quickest way to succeed is to genuinely help as many people as you can. Bill Gates has helped billions, which explains why he has billions.

How many people are you helping? You will only be compensated in this lifetime for helping others.

3. Action Trumps Theorizing

“An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.”

It’s easy to sit around and theorize, but the reward is in the action. It’s imperative that you’re in action! Don’t just discuss your theories, test them, and test them today.

Action always trumps inaction, get in motion, have some failures, and it time, success will be yours.

4. Build Something Better


“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”

To succeed you must build something better.

You must first use your difference to perceive something better, and then you must use your existing resources to build it. If you build well, you will be rewarded. Emerson said, “Doing well is the result of doing good. That’s what capitalism is all about.”

5. Keep Good Friends


“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”

A large part of success is having good friends. A good friend is someone who you can be yourself with.

You don’t have to put on a show, and you don’t have to be smart for a good friend. In the words of Emerson, “you can afford to be stupid with them.” Recognize your good friends, mark them, they are a part of your success.

6. Raise the Bar


“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

If you’ve ever done any serious weight training you know that your muscles won’t grow if you keep on doing the same thing. They will max out! As in the gym, so it is in life. If you don’t stretch yourself, if you don’t get out of your comfort zone and do what you haven’t done before, you will never grow. So commit to raise the bar today, stretch your horizons, and you will stretch your life.

7. Start Small

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

It’s okay to start small. What’s small today will one day be enormous, if you stay consistent. Don’t be concerned with your current size; be concerned with the direction that you’re traveling in. If you’re going in the right direction, you will eventually get to your goal. You will eventually become, what you were destined to become. At last your greatness will be revealed.

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Written on 9/7/2010 by Mr. Self Development who is a motivational author that offers a practical guide to success and wealth; support him by visiting his blog at mrselfdevelopment.com or by subscribing to his feed. Photo Credit: clif1066
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