Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993) for more than 50 years was known as the Apostle of Positive Thinking. His books have sold into the millions. He was an incredible human being himself. He was full of life and enthusiastic.
Reading his life, it appears that when he was young he was not like that. He was diffident, shy and doubtful. He tells a significant story about one of the things that helped him grow out of that.
The night before his graduation at Ohio University there was a banquet at one of the fraternity houses. The guest of honor was the President of the university, Dr John Hoffman, a very great educationalist. When the banquet was finished, he said to Peale, “Norman, come walk with me home”, which was not far away.
On a beautiful June night, these two walked along, the famous educationalist and this young, very diffident, rather nervous university student. They talked about all kinds of things until they got to Hoffman’s home then, Peale said, “Hoffman turned around and put his hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Norman, I have got a great admiration for you young man. I think you have got great possibilities. I am sure we are all going to be proud of you. Goodnight.’”
He disappeared into his room and one very young, self-doubting student was left with his heart in his throat. A great man believed in him and that can be a marvelous therapy for people who are unsure of themselves.
Peale wrote this, “I have never forgotten that night, all these long years. Hoffman was the kind of person who built people up, not just me but all his students. There must be thousands of us who revere his memory.”
Source: Scott McPheat in an address, “How can we be more likeable people?” NZ circa 1985.
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: Norman Vincent Peale.