“TAKE TWO ACORNS from the same tree, as nearly alike as possible; plant one on a hill by itself, and the other in the dense forest, and watch them grow. The oak standing alone is exposed to every storm. Its roots reach out in every direction, clutching the rocks and piercing deep in to the earth. Every rootlet lends itself to steady the growing giant, as if in anticipation of fierce conflict with the elements.
Sometimes its upward growth seems checked for years, but all the while it has been expending its energy in pushing a root across a large rock to gain a firmer anchorage. Then it shoots proudly aloft again, prepared to defy the hurricane.
The acorn planted in the deep forest shoots up a weak, slender sapling. Shielded by its neighbors, it feels no need of spreading its roots far and wide for support.
Take two boys, as nearly alike as possible. Place one in the country away from the hothouse culture and refinements of the city, with only the district school, the Sunday school, and a few books. Remove wealth and props of every kind; and, if he has the right kind of material in him, he will thrive. Every obstacle overcome lends him strength for the next conflict. If he falls, he rises with more determination than before.
Life a rubber ball, the harder the obstacle he meets the higher the rebounds. Obstacles and opposition are but apparatus of the gymnasium in which the fibers of his manhood are developed. He compels respect and recognition from those who have ridiculed his poverty.
Put the other boy in a Vanderbilt family. Give him French and German nurses; gratify every wish. Place him under the tutelage of great masters and send him to Harvard. Give him thousands a year for spending money, and let him travel extensively.
The two boys meet. The city lad is ashamed of his country brother. The plain threadbare clothes, hard hands, tawny face, and awkward manner of the country boy make sorry contrast with the genteel appearance of the other.
They meet again as men, but how changed! It is as easy to distinguish the sturdy, self-made man from the one who has been propped up all his life by wealth, position, and family influence, as it is for the shipbuilder to tell the difference between the plank from the rugged mountain oak and one from the sapling of the forest.”
– Orison Swett Marden
Founder of Success Magazine