Trinidad and Tobago Faces Economic Challenges Amid Global Uncertainties
June 26, 2024
The Spiritual Journey
June 26, 2024

On Trusting God (and myself)

By Matthew Woolford

The first time I read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, I didn’t think I was mentally and emotionally equipped to follow all of his advice. The next time around, however, I felt better prepared, and his chapter on ‘Persistence” may have just changed my life for the better.

Within this timeless classic, Napoleon Hill crafted four statements which have latched onto my heart:

  1. The starting point of all achievement is desire.
  2. You may find it necessary to “snap out” of your mental inertia… moving slowly at first, then increasing your speed, until you gain complete control over your will.
  3. The majority of people permit relatives, friends, and the public at large to so influence them that they cannot live their own lives, because they fear criticism.
  4. Those who can “take it” are bountifully rewarded for their persistence…They receive something infinitely more important than material compensation- the knowledge that “every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage”.

I am finally mature enough to admit that for most of my life, I have failed to summon the self-control required to trust my own decisions.

I have been told by some, both near and far, that I have lots of talent, yet seem to lack the motivation or the vision to make proper or better use of them.

Some have even rendered their versions of assistance by attempting to tell me what to do, or not to do with said talent. Others have flat-out condemned my decisions and thinking process as flawed logic that should be condemned to a place somewhere “East of Eden”.

Yet, one of the most pivotal periods of my life occurred some 20 years ago while negotiating the transition from being a secondary school student to university undergraduate.

As a then Form 6 Business II student at St Mary’s College, I planned on applying to study law at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, the following year. A ‘friend of the family’ heard of this and invited me to a ‘sit-down’ meeting where he spelled out everything which he believed to be wrong with such a decision. He told me that he worked with many lawyers throughout his career in banking and that many of them were either ‘under-challenged’ and ‘unfulfilled’ with their careers. He advised that if he could do it all over again, a degree in engineering followed by a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) was the way to go.

Truth be told, I am finally mature enough to admit that this conversation did have an adverse effect on me, as I allowed someone to tamper with an opportunity for me to grow in self-confidence and ownership of my own decision-making ability.

After wrestling with this confusion, I decided to defer that goal for another season, and instead pursue an undergraduate degree in Management Studies at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus. After the first day of classes, and upon informing a relative of this new chapter in my student career, we had an ‘over-the-phone’ meeting where he spelled out everything which he believed to be wrong with such a decision.  He told me that I should have picked a major that was more focused, and which held ‘better’ career options such as accountancy or engineering.

Once again, I am finally mature enough to admit that this conversation did have an adverse effect on me, as I allowed someone to tamper with the confidence I had in my future.

That being written, there is a greater truth still that St Paul shared with the good people of Corinth many years ago:

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

For close to 20 years now, I have struggled to make sense of the comments/criticisms mentioned above and it has only been through my second reading of this timeless classic by Napoleon Hill that I have been able to discern the ignorance, fear and misguidedness that went into them.

I am now beginning to see the past two decades of my life as part of an ongoing formation that has led to a greater trust in God and an increasing but appropriate trust in myself.

I returned to studying law a few years ago, and as a working student, it is very difficult, but desire seems to be pulling me through. I prefer to try and fail than fail to try. I have neither fortune nor fame, but God has given me what I believe to be a foundation in patience and persistence, and for that I am grateful!