Dick meets the son of a wealthy man and shows him around the city for a day. Later, the boy’s father tells Dick that “in this country poverty is no bar to achievement” and relates his own rise from apprentice printer to successful businessman. He notes that there was one thing he took away from the printing office “which I value more than money.” When Dick asks what this was, the man replies:
“A taste for reading and study. During my leisure hours I improved myself by study, and acquired a large part of the knowledge which I now possess. Indeed, it was one of my books that first put me on the track of the invention, which I afterwards made. So you see, my lad, that my studious habits paid me in money, as well as in another way.”
Source: Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks by Horatio Alger Jr.
The main take away from this book is that we should strive for success not just to get a fortune, but to gain tenacity, discipline, frugality, and optimism—qualities that cannot be bought.
I recently came across a poem by Portia Nelson that talks about a hole in the sidewalk and how being creatures of habit we continue to fall into the same hole even after we become aware of the hole.
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
Chapter One of My Life: I walk down the street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It still takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter Two: I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place! But it isn’t my fault. And it still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter Three: I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there. I still fall in. It’s a habit! My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Chapter Four: I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
Chapter Five: I walk down a different street.
― Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery
There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk by Portia Nelson is a book of quick, humorous and inspirational bits that can enlighten your day. She first released, what she referred to as a book of “pieces of me”, in 1977. Since then, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk has gone on to become a well-loved classic. In this timeless classic, Portia has shared with us a legacy that will last the ages. After all, as Portia says:
“Knowing one’s own feelings and being able to trust them is the difference between existing and living.”
Take 5 minutes today to think about something you keep doing over and over again that isn’t good for you, and which you would like to change.