"What sort of man or woman shall I be; what kind of life shall I propose and hew out ?" The answer one frames to this question is his personal ideal, and will exercise a potent influence upon the development of his character and the direction of his conduct. Toward it the growing soul strives, day after day, year after year; its outlines, first existing only in the imagination of the heart, gradually, almost imperceptibly impress themselves on the soul and body, and manifest themselves in the outer life; "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." The personal ideal distinguishes man from lower creatures; and its perfection and power mark the high and full development of humanity. Very early it becomes the directing influence in self-culture,-which is by far the most important part of education; all truly higher education is self-education; the mission of all training from without is to stimulate and aid and guide one to take charge of his own culture and career. Conscious education is always directed by some sort of an ideal: the school, the home, national education are laboring to mold men and women into certain general forms of excellence and virtue; the personal ideal is the image that one forms of his own possible self. The personal ideal must have power over our lives, else it is not an ideal at all, but only an idea. One must not merely dream of strength, of wisdom, of skill and power, of honor and righteousness, of nobility and generosity, - he must resolve to attain them. He must see himself pursuing and achieving, and be inspired and energized by the vision. Such a vision of power is the personal ideal.
Source: The Essentials of Character, The Macmillan Company, 1915
Contributed by: Zaady