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The Great Gatsby’s Self-Help ContractBlueprint} For Success


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The Great Gatsby’s Self-Help ContractBlueprint} For Success

When I read biographies, autobiographies, or management articles and textbooks, I’m always impressed by one commonality among all successful people: they all set goals. I suppose all normal human beings do that every day; they have a mental plan of what they will accomplish during the day, or in the short run.

For the successful individuals, though, those goals they set for themselves are for the short run and for the long run. And they write those objectives down. This is the secret of success, for plans, goals, and objectives not committed to writing, often are nothing but dreams. A concrete written list will make you a doer, a mental list a wayward dreamer.

While many readers search for the Jay Gatsby’s magic hidden formula for riches and success, I’m sure they simply gloss over Gatsby’s schedule for self-improvement. But let’s not be mistaken; therein we find the roots of his success.

Here’s an exchange between Jay’s father and Nick Carraway, the narrator:

The old man: “Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always had some resolves like this or something. Do you notice what he’s got about improving his mind? He was always great for that. He told me I et like a hog once and I beat him for it.”

Nick: ‘He was reluctant to close the book, reading each item aloud and then looking eagerly at me. I think he rather expected me to copy down the list for my own use.’

Nick wasn’t about to copy the list down since he’s already a formed man, well connected, Yale-educated, and wealthy. Not a self-made man. For others, though, we can see that from an early age that Jay Gatsby had contracted with himself to become a success. First let’s look at his schedule:

Rise from bed……………………………….6.00……………..A.M.

Dumbell exercise and wall-scaling………….6.15 – 6.30……….. “

Study electricity, etc…………………………7.15 – 8.15…….. “

Work…………………………………………8.30 – 4.30…….. P.M.

Baseball and sports…………………………..4.30 -  5.00…….. “

Practice elocution, poise and how to attain it..5.00 – 6.00…….. “

Study needed inventions……………………..7.00 – 9.00…….. “

What can we learn from this schedule? We learn that he’s an early riser; that he takes care of his body as well as his mind. What is poignant is that his vision of success included a persona or an image-a cultivated and well-poised image. As the story develops, we learn that he uses everything that he included in his schedule, from wall-scaling (maybe social climbing) to inventions, and baseball and sports.

His general resolves:

No wasting time at Shafters or [a name, indecipherable].

No more smokeing or chewing.

Bath every other day.

Read one improving book or magazine per week.

Save .00 [crossed out] .00 per week.

Be better to parents.

Conclusion:

That Jay Gatsby set off on a quest to become rich, there’s no doubt. That he achieved wealth by cutting corners and dubious business deals with shady figures, there’s no doubt. The text is quite clear. The question that lingers is, would he have become successful without a written contract with himself?

No architect, builder, or contractor would set off to build a house without the blueprints of the house. Success needs a blueprint.

Retired. Former investment banker, Columbia University-educated, Vietnam Vet (67-68).
For the writing techniques I use, see Mary Duffy’s e-book: Sentence Openers.
To read my book reviews of the Classics visit my blog: Writing To Live




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