Success is failure turned inside out. An uninterrupted success at the beginning of a career is dangerous. Beware of the first great triumph. It may prove a failure. Many a man has been ruined by over-confidence born of his first victory. The mountain oak, tossed and swayed in the tempest until its proud top sweeps the earth, it all the stronger for its hundred battles with the elements if it only straightens up again. The danger is not in a fall, but in failing to rise.
James Whitcomb Riley, the “Hoosier” poet, was once asked for his idea of the prime requisites for success in the field of letters, to which Mr. Riley replied: “The most essential factor is persistence – the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragements that must inevitably come. I believe that his is richer for the battle with the world, in any vocation, who has great determination and little talent, rather than his seemingly more fortunate brother with great talent, perhaps, but little determination.”
No man fails who does his best, for if the critical world ignore him, his labor is weighed in the scales of Omniscient Justice. As there is no effect without cause, no loss of energy in the world, so conscientious persistence cannot fail of its ultimate reward.
It was Charles Summer, speaking about success in life, who said, “Three things are necessary: first, backbone; third, backbone.”
Even brains are second in importance to will. The vacillating man is always pushed aside in the race of life. It is only the weak and vacillating who halt before adverse circumstance and obstacles. A man with an iron will, with a determination that nothing shall check his career, if he has perseverance and grit, is sure to succeed.
There is something which everybody admires in an aspiring soul, one whose tendency is upward and onward, in spite of hindrances and in defiance of obstacles.
Columbus was dismissed as a fool from court after court, but he pushed his suit against an incredulous and ridiculing world. Rebuffed by kings, scorned by queens, he did not swerve a hair’s breadth from the overmastering purpose which dominated his soul. The words “New World” were graven upon his heart; and reputation, ease, pleasure, position, life itself if need be, must be sacrificed. Threats, ridicule, ostracism, storms, leaky vessels, mutiny of sailors, could not shake his mighty purpose.
You cannot keep a determined man from success. Place stumbling-blocks in his way and he takes them for stepping-stones, and on them will climb to greatness. Take away his money, and he makes spurs of his poverty to urge him on. Cripple him, and he writes the Waverley Novels. Lock him up in a dungeon, and he composes the immortal “Pilgrim’s Progress”. Put him in a cradle in a log cabin in the wilderness of America, and in a few years you will find him the Capitol at the head of the greatest nation on the globe.
The man who succeeds has a program: he fixes his course, and adheres to it; he lays his plans, and executes them; he goes straight to his goal. He is not pushed this side and that every time a difficulty is thrust in his way. If he can’t go over it, he goes through it.
Nothing within the realm of the possible can withstand the man or woman who is intelligently bent on success.