Dale Carnegie on Why you Should Be Yourself

In Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, one of the seven ways to peace and happiness is to be yourself.

Several times Carnegie tried to imitate others and failed.

“…I set out to write what I hoped would be the best book on public speaking for businessmen that had ever been written…. I was going to borrow the ideas of a lot of other writers and put them all in one book – a book that would have everything. So I got scores of books on public speaking and spent a year incorporating their ideas into my manuscript. But it finally dawned on me once again that I was playing the fool. This hodgepodge of other men ‘s ideas that I had written was so synthetic, so dull, that no businessman would ever plod through it. So I tossed a year’s work into the wastebasket, and started all over again. This time I said to myself: ‘You’ve got to be Dale Carnegie, with all his faults and limitations. You can’t possibly be anybody else.’ So I quit trying to be a combination of other men, and… wrote a textbook on public speaking out of my own experiences….”

That book became a best seller.

When he tosses a year’s work into the wastebasket… that must have hurt.

Starting over is one of the toughest decisions to make, especially if it is not the first time reinventing yourself, or your business, or your project. You’ve put in a lot of time and effort, and other resources into something.

Sometimes you must count those mistakes as sunk costs so that you can move towards what you should be doing.

Let’s be clear: those previous experiences are not a complete waste (or at least, they don’t have to be). It has usually been my experience that there are some elements of  your past mistakes which prove to be transferable, that prove to be useful today or in the future.

One of the things which has prevented me from being myself career-wise, is that my true self did not seem welcome anywhere. So you mimic the “successful” people and squeeze yourself into in pre-established molds. I was only fooling myself. (I’ll tell you my life story at another time.)

Whatever your goals, whatever my goals, let’s you and I take a page from Carnegie and be ourselves. We have to start there.


Peace be with you,