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Youth and Opportunity


What shall I see, if ever I go Over the mountains high? Now I can see but their peaks of snow, Crowning the cliffs, where the pine trees grow; Waiting and watching to rise, Nearer and nearer the skies.

When Alexander Pope wrote the line, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast," he expressed a truth that, considered in the fullness of its suggestion, is electrifying. With the coming of the inspiring impulse of hope, we find again open to us the doors that have shut us in. We look out over a vast field of possibility. Once more, we are in the presence of our rightful heritage. It lies, bright and enticing, before us; it beckons us to come; it speaks to us plainly; it promises much if we will only go forth and dwell as a worker in the fair field of its golden opportunities.

We feel no doubts arise within us about the reality of eternal hope. We are convinced that we may possess the best things of life to what ever extent we desire. We realize that we have only to be brave and pay the price.

And the price is Work.

Shall we, then, with courage (and courage is rightly a quality of the heart) begin to labor for the rewards and blessings of hope; or shall we permit the light to fade from our sight, and en tering again upon the way of darkness, grope in a poverty of opportunity? Our decision in this matter conditions all the success that may be our portion, for, curiously, this word success has a simple basic meaning— to go along. It implies motion toward the thing desired. All students of biography, and all ob servers of successful men in the world to-day, know that motion toward the thing desired must have its beginning somewhere. A man must have a starting point before he can fix the direction of his going. Every man, of what ever talent, opportunity, industry, or intention, starts from the same place. That place is where he finds himself in the moment when hope in spires him anew ; when it impels him to work instead of resting in idleness ; to move in the light instead of sitting still in the darkness.

All the Factors of Success, then, swing in stately orbits about work, as satellites circle the planet to which they belong. The moment when motion, which is but another word for prog ress, ceases, there is a catastrophe. The young man or woman intent on succeeding in life must entertain no delusions in regard to this law of incessant activity. The determination to succeed in life, once made, work becomes not only the order of the day but the joy of it. Work itself must be inspired by judgment, and judgment in turn, must be formed and per fected by two simple processes : ( ) That of doing all work well.

(2) That of discerning daily, more and more clearly, the particular phase of success one should endeavor to attain.

It has been said repeatedly that, with strict attention to his tasks, any man can win success more than equivalent to his apparent genius and industry ; for the very act of industry reveals more and more genius in him. His resources are indeed like those of an opulent mine, the riches of which are not realized until one has made way into it with the pick and shovel of persistent labor.

Before taking up one by one, in the chapters that follow, the essential Factors of Success, by means of which Youth may take advantage of Opportunity, it is worth while to determine how this word success should be interpreted, which of all its possibilities the young man or woman should choose as the best to pursue in youth for a permanent possession in later years. This is a fundamentally necessary inquiry, for there is no way of freeing one's self in old age of the rewards one has sought and won in early years. Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan has coined an expression that exactly applies to this : "It is impossible," he says, "to unscramble an egg." The logic of this statement is this : With an egg in hand, be sure you know what you want to do with it before you break the shell, but do not wait too long. Once the shell is broken, it is impossible again to restore it to wholeness.

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success, man, hope, life and motion