Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great essayist, said in a lecture in 1871, “If a man can write a better book or preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”

This hasn’t always been true — but it will become increasingly true, and so I would urge you to study hard, to burn the midnight oil; I would say to you, don’t drop out of school. I understand all the sociological reasons, but I urge you that in spite of your economic plight, in spite of the situation that you’re forced to live in — stay in school.

And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

This speech is pretty incredible. Whatever you decide to be, you have to aim to be the best. Know your outcome. Known what that looks like exactly and take that and run with it. Do it with as much passion as the greats followed their dreams.

Evan Sanders

Join the Dream


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  • Chanel Hason
    January 21, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Wow where ever did you find that quote?! 🙂 Glad you liked it. Be the best street sweeper you can be!

  • katrina
    January 21, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Great advice..thank you Evan… 🙂

  • Liberty of Thinking
    January 22, 2013 at 1:44 am

    Hi Evan,

    I am not really in THE mood, today😟, so just thought of pondering for a second at the worse case scenario could ever happen in your quote’s world…
    You see, the whole wide world (www) exists in the shadow of such great quotes, with most of the times though having the greatest of pines buried in the darkest of valleys, with just enough space left for a panoramic view to the top where wretched, fruitless and barren shrubs compete for the usurping of every square inch, never given, nor intended for them…
    My good friend, my sort of people will be called “grumpy old pessimists” nearly always, by such shrubs…
    You know, I adore -with all my valid credentials- to pick garbage from streets, to swipe where others are littering, to peel potatoes, to wash dishes, clean sewers, to seek and see simplicity’s pure beauty…
    Seeing reality is painful though…
    And my roots are slowly rotting in a valley too dark and shallow…
    I can’t pretend anymore that all the usurpers of all good places have a right to be there, while I just never seem to…

    I, from my heart wish dear Friend, to never experience how short the time of hope to make it to where you belong, is becoming every day.

    I truly did not want to ruin your motivating thoughts! I hope your light will shine brighter in the contrast of my lack of it.

    Take care.


  • pixelrites
    January 22, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Wow – I love this, thank you – “sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures” Yes!

  • Dorcas Graham
    January 22, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Good stuff. When we cease to hope, the soul dies just a little. Thank you for the post.

  • jelillie
    January 22, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Great words Evan and scary because all of our dreams come with a price. Being the best costs but I am learning the benefits far outweigh the payout!

  • songtothesirens
    January 22, 2013 at 5:44 am

    “…Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are…..

    I like this a lot. One of the basic tenets of Buddhism is to be the best “you” you can possibly be, and you can only so this by living your dream, seeing it as done in your mind. You cannot falter in manifesting your vision of who or what you want to be. You have to believe that you already have it, or that you already are what you want to be. You either win or you lose, there is no grey area for compromise. When you compromise your dreams, you will die a little each day, and the dream will become more and more distant until you finally give in to mediocrity.

  • jeepnmom
    January 22, 2013 at 6:38 am

    You have inspired me so I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog/Very Inspiring Blogger Award! You may visit my site, http://jeepnmom.wordpress.com/, for acceptance info and some badges. There are also links to some other very inspiring blogs! Have a great day!

  • katrina
    January 22, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Reblogged this on Katrina and commented:
    This is one great advice…

  • kristic90
    January 22, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Reblogged this on 52 Steps and commented:
    A Little Bit of Inspiration for You Goal Seekers!

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  • bussokuseki
    January 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I often go back to Emerson and Thoreau for a different perspective from my Eastern teachers – yet so much the same. Thanks for posting this. Be well~

  • Zach IAM
    January 23, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Reblogged this on EmanateLove and commented:

  • Shamz
    January 23, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Shamz Unlimited and commented:
    This is very inspiring…

  • secretlydivine
    January 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Reblogged this on SecretlyDivine.

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