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The Power of Belief

Down the streets of Portsmouth more than two hundred years ago," said Lt. General Ira C. Eaker in a speech given some time ago, "walked a sailor with one arm, one eye, and a persistent state of nerves and unable to tread a ship's deck without being seasick. Indeed he would probably have been in a home for incurables were his name not Admiral Lord Nelson. The man's spirit drove the flesh."

Born in 1758, Horatio Nelson, the son of a pastor, was a small, frail child who loved sailing. As a young teenager he joined the British

navy and, while journeying to the East Indies, caught a fever that seriously damaged his health. But he never allowed this to hold him back. At age 18 he was appointed a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and by the year 1802 was made commander-in-chief of the British fleet.

Two years later, at the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets. This was the greatest naval victory in British history and left the British in control of the seas for the rest of the 1800's. Unfortunately, Nelson was mortally wounded during Trafalgar but lived long enough to know that his fleet had won the battle. His last words were, "Thank God I have done my duty."

Nelson was a man of fearless courage and devotion. He believed in his country, in his cause, and in himself. He proved this with his words and more so with his life. He once said, "I am of the opinion that the boldest measures are the safest." Nelson was a man greatly admired by others who said about him, "His frail body housed a great spirit."

John Stuart Mill would agree. He said, "One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who only have interest." Why is this so?

One person with a belief is
equal to a force of ninety-nine
who only have interest.

First, beliefs are remarkably powerful in that they are to our lives what a rudder is to a ship. That is, they control the direction and destiny of our lives. While we don't always live the life we profess, we always live the life we believe. Simply put, if I believe I am a failure, I will set myself up to fail. If I believe I am a successful person, I will succeed, and so on.

Dr. Joyce Brothers, well-known author and psychologist says, "An individual's self-concept [what he believes about himself] is the core of his personality. It affects every aspect of human behavior; the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change, the choice of friends, mates and careers. It's no exaggeration to say that a strong positive self-image [self-belief] is the best possible preparation for success in life."

Self-belief is not an egotistic "I'm the greatest" attitude. This is self-deception and a cover for deep insecurity. Believing in yourself is knowing and accepting your weaknesses as well as your strengths and believing with God's help that you can overcome your weaknesses and develop and use your strengths.

One very successful woman, a well-known entertainer, didn't have much going for her. She would never have won a beauty contest and at age 38 was living on welfare. After reading Claude Briston's, The Magic of Believing, and beginning to believe in herself, Phyllis Diller's life took a dramatic turn. One gift she had was the ability to make people laugh. Once she believed this, she didn't allow what she didn't have to stop her using what she did have.

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All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.