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10 Lessons From ‘Pushing To The Front’ by Orison Swett Marden

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Monday, June 10, 2024

How do some people become so much more successful than others… when they have very similar circumstances, upbringing, and opportunities?

That’s the question at the heart of ‘Pushing to The Front’ by Orison Swett Marden.

First published in 1911, 'Pushing to the Front' became an instant success and has been credited with transforming countless lives. The book has even been translated into many languages and used in schools around the world.

So no wonder you want to learn about it! 🙂

Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll share 10 lessons from ‘Pushing to The Front’, including excerpts from the book and quick-hitting takeaways.

By the way, you should know that you can get full access to the audiobook and ebook for ‘Pushing To The Front’ by Orison Swett Marden inside my ‘Secrets of Success’ community.

You’ll also get access to never-before-published books from Napoleon Hill, unbroadcast recordings from Earl Nightingale, and tons more.

Just click below to try it out!


Lesson 1. Embrace Opportunities

"The lack of opportunity is ever the excuse of a weak, vacillating mind. Opportunities! Every life is full of them. Every lesson in school or college is an opportunity. Every examination is a chance in life. Every patient is an opportunity. Every newspaper article is an opportunity. Every client is an opportunity. Every sermon is an opportunity. Every business transaction is an opportunity,—an opportunity to be polite,—an opportunity to be manly,—an opportunity to be honest,—an opportunity to make friends. Every proof of confidence in you is a great opportunity. Every responsibility thrust upon your strength and your honor is priceless. Existence is the privilege of effort, and when that privilege is met like a man, opportunities to succeed along the line of your aptitude will come faster than you can use them."

Ever felt like some people are luckier than others?

In 'Pushing to The Front,' Marden emphasizes that opportunities are abundant and available to everyone, but it takes a proactive and alert mindset to recognize and seize them. He argues that waiting for the perfect moment or ideal conditions is the opposite of what you want to do.

Instead, get extraordinary results from ordinary opportunities. Because it’s not about the opportunities you have, it’s about what you make of them!

Takeaway: Identify and act on at least one opportunity each day, whether it’s learning something new, helping someone out, or starting a project you’ve been putting off.


Lesson 2. The Power of Persistence

"One reason why the careers of most of us are so pinched and narrow is because we do not have a large faith in ourselves and in our power to accomplish. We are held back by too much caution. We are timid about venturing. We are not bold enough.

Whatever we long for, yearn for, struggle for, and hold persistently in the mind, we tend to become just in exact proportion to the intensity and persistence of the thought. We think ourselves into smallness, into inferiority by thinking downward. We ought to think upward, then we would reach the height where superiority dwells. The man whose mind is set firmly toward achievement does not appropriate success, he is success."

Persistence is the backbone of every success story. Think of your favorite celebrity or sports player. They succeeded by being more persistent than everyone else.

Marden recognizes that no significant achievement comes without the grit to keep going when things get tough. He shares examples of individuals who faced incredible odds but refused to give up. Setbacks and failures are not the end — they are just part of the journey.

Takeaway: Set a goal and commit to it with unwavering persistence, regardless of the challenges you face. Your determination will lead you to success.


Lesson 3. Self-Reliance & Personal Responsibility

"Is it any wonder that the boy so trained in self-reliance, so superbly equipped with physical and mental stamina, should take such pre-eminence, should be in such demand when he comes to the city? Is it any wonder that he is always in evidence in great emergencies and crises? Just stand a stamina-filled, self-reliant country boy beside a pale, soft, stamina-less, washed-out city youth. Is it any wonder that the country-bred boy is nearly always the leader; that he heads the banks, the great mercantile houses? It is this peculiar, indescribable something; this superior stamina and mental caliber, that makes the stuff that rises to the top in all vocations."

Self-reliance and personal responsibility are crucial for achieving success. By relying on your own abilities and taking full responsibility for your actions, you empower yourself to shape your destiny. Be proactive and accountable, rather than waiting for others to guide or support you.

Takeaway: Take full responsibility for your actions and decisions, and trust in your ability to overcome challenges.


Lesson 4. Positive Thinking & Mental Attitude

"We must not only believe we can succeed, but we must believe it with all our hearts. We must have a positive conviction that we can attain success. No lukewarm energy or indifferent ambition ever accomplished anything. There must be vigor in our expectation, in our faith, in our determination, in our endeavor. We must resolve with the energy that does things.

As it is the fierceness of the heat that melts the iron ore and makes it possible to weld it or mold it into shape; as it is the intensity of the electrical force that dissolves the diamond—the hardest known substance; so it is the concentrated aim, the invincible purpose, that wins success. Nothing was ever accomplished by a half-hearted desire."​

Your thoughts shape your reality, and just as poor thoughts can lead to a poor reality… so too thoughts of abundance can lead to a reality of abundance! By controlling your thoughts, you can influence your actions and outcomes.

Takeaway: Adopt a positive mindset and believe in your ability to succeed, as this will energize your actions and bring you closer to your goals.


Lesson 5. The Value of Education & Continuous Learning

"It is not such a very great undertaking to get all the essentials of a college course at home, or at least a fair substitute for it. Every hour in which one focuses his mind vigorously upon his studies at home may be as beneficial as the same time spent in college.

The world is a great university. From the cradle to the grave we are always in God’s great kindergarten, where everything is trying to teach us its lesson; to give us its great secret. Some people are always at school, always storing up precious bits of knowledge. Everything has a lesson for them. It all depends upon the eye that can see, the mind that can appropriate."​

You probably assume we’re talking about college or university. But we’re definitely not! We’re talking about the importance of becoming a lifelong learner in everything that you do. That’s how you lead a successful life… by learning from the ups and downs.

Takeaway: Dedicate time each day to learning something new, whether through reading, online courses, or practical experiences, to continually grow and stay ahead in your personal and professional life.


Lesson 6. The Importance of Environment

"It will make all the difference in the world to you whether you are with people who are watching for ability in you, people who believe in, encourage, and praise you, or whether you are with those who are forever breaking your idols, blasting your hopes, and throwing cold water on your aspirations.

The chief probation officer of the children’s court in New York, in his report for 1905, says: 'Removing a boy or girl from improper environment is the first step in his or her reclamation.' The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, after thirty years of investigation of cases involving the social and moral welfare of over half a million children, has also come to the conclusion that environment is stronger than heredity."

Your environment plays a pivotal role in shaping who you are and what you become. Marden explains that the people and surroundings you immerse yourself in can either lift you up or drag you down.

Surround yourself with supportive, ambitious, and positive influences, and you create a fertile ground for personal and professional growth.

Takeaway: Surround yourself with people who support and inspire you, and create an environment that encourages your growth and ambition.


Lesson 7. The Role of Self-Expression

"Self-expression in some manner is the only means of developing mental power. It may be in music; it may be on canvas; it may be through oratory; it may come through selling goods or writing a book; but it must come through self-expression.

Self-expression in any legitimate form tends to call out what is in a man, his resourcefulness, inventiveness; but no other form of self-expression develops a man so thoroughly and so effectively, and so quickly unfolds all of his powers, as expression before an audience."

Self-expression is not just about speaking your mind; it's a crucial part of personal growth. Whether through public speaking, writing, music, or art, it helps you develop your mental powers and reveal your inner potential. You enhance your communication skills, boost your confidence, and unlock creative abilities you might not have known you had.

Takeaway: Find a form of self-expression that resonates with you—be it speaking, writing, or another creative outlet—and practice it regularly to build confidence and reveal your true potential.


Lesson 8. Developing Observation Skills

"The efficient man is always growing. He is always accumulating knowledge of every kind. He does not merely look with his eyes. He sees with them. He keeps his ears open. He keeps his mind open to all that is new and fresh and helpful.

The majority of people do not see things; they just look at them. The power of keen observation is indicative of a superior mentality; for it is the mind, not the optic nerve, that really sees.

Most people are too lazy, mentally, to see things carefully. Close observation is a powerful mental process. The mind is all the time working over the material which the eye brings it, considering, forming opinions, estimating, weighing, balancing, calculating. Careless, indifferent observation does not go back of the eye. If the mind is not focused, the image is not clean-cut, and is not carried with force and distinctness enough to the brain to enable it to get at the truth and draw accurate conclusions."

Marden believes that keen observation skills are crucial for success. He argues that it's not just about looking, but truly seeing and understanding the details that most people overlook. Learn from the world around you, make better decisions, and identify opportunities that others might miss. Marden provides examples of how great inventors and leaders have used their powers of observation to achieve remarkable success.

Takeaway: Practice keen observation by paying close attention to your surroundings and reflecting on what you see. This habit will enhance your ability to learn and make informed decisions.


Lesson 9. The Impact of Reading

"The great use in reading is for self-discovery. Inspirational, character-making, life-shaping books are the main thing.

Cotton Mather’s “Essay to Do Good” influenced the whole career of Benjamin Franklin.

There are books that have raised the ideals and materially influenced entire nations.

Who can estimate the value of books that spur ambition, that awaken slumbering possibilities?

Are we ambitious to associate with people who inspire us to nobler deeds? Let us then read uplifting books, which stir us to make the most of ourselves.

We all know how completely changed we sometimes are after reading a book which has taken a strong, vigorous hold upon us."​

Reading is more than a pastime—it's a powerful tool for self-improvement and personal growth. The right kind of reading can inspire ambition, sharpen your mind, and provide a lifetime of learning. Books are gateways to new ideas, perspectives, and opportunities.

Takeaway: Incorporate regular reading of inspirational and educational books into your daily routine to continuously grow and discover new aspects of yourself.


Lesson 10. Practical Wisdom Over Book Knowledge

"The world is full of men and women apparently splendidly endowed and highly educated, yet who can scarcely get a living.

Not long ago three college graduates were found working on a sheep farm in Australia, one from Oxford, one from Cambridge, and the other from a German University,—college men tending brutes! Trained to lead men, they drove sheep. The owner of the farm was an ignorant, coarse sheep-raiser. He knew nothing of books or theories, but he knew sheep. His three hired graduates could speak foreign languages and discuss theories of political economy and philosophy, but he could make money. He could talk about nothing but sheep and farm; but he had made a fortune, while the college men could scarcely get a living. Even the University could not supply commonsense. It was “culture against ignorance; the college against the ranch; and the ranch beat every time.”

Do not expect too much from books. Bacon said that studies “teach not their own use, but that there is a practical wisdom without them, won by observation.” The use of books must be found outside their own lids. It was said of a great French scholar: “He was drowned in his talents.” Over-culture, without practical experience, weakens a man, and unfits him for real life. Book education alone tends to make a man too critical, too self-conscious, timid, distrustful of his abilities, too fine for the mechanical drudgery of practical life, too highly polished, and too finely cultured for everyday use."

While book knowledge is valuable, it’s practical wisdom that truly drives success. Marden illustrates that being well-read is not enough; you must also be able to apply what you’ve learned in real-world situations.

Takeaway: Balance your theoretical learning with real-world application to ensure that your knowledge is practical and actionable.


Want all the books on this list… and MORE?!

Then I’ve got good news!

You can get access to the full audiobook and ebook of “Pushing To The Front” by Orison Swett Marden inside of my Secrets of Success community. And it’s free to try!

You’ll also get access to never-before-published books from Napoleon Hill, unbroadcast recordings from Earl Nightingale, and tons more.

Just click below to try it out!

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