Slow and Steady Advance is the Best

by J. R. Miller, 1912

Many young men are impatient of slow success. In their enthusiasm, they expect to advance rapidly and without hindrance in their chosen career. The young physician is eager to find at once a large and remunerative practice. The young aspirant for literary honors is disappointed if immediately his work is not accepted and his name written high in the list of popular writers. The young business man expects to have success from the day he begins. The artist thinks that the excellence of his work should win fame for him the day his pictures are shown to the public. The same is true in all professions and callings. The fact is, however, that, with very few exceptions, beginners in every occupation must be satisfied for a time with but meager recognition and slow results. Many young men who know that this is true in general, have the feeling that their own case will be an exception. We like to think ourselves a little different from other people. We may as well make up our minds, however, to the fact that there are few exceptions to this rule. The only genius that counts is the capacity for hard work. The men who have achieved the greatest success in the various callings, have had to struggle for it most intensely.

There are reasons why it is better that young men should not get on too rapidly or too easily at the beginning. No matter how gifted they may be or how well prepared, they are not ready at once for full responsibility. At the best, their preparation is theoretical, not practical. They need to learn by experience, and it is better that they should do so leisurely, without too great pressure. A young physician who should have the responsibilities of a large practice thrust upon him at once, could only fail. A young business man who, immediately after leaving college, should take sole charge of a large establishment, would find himself unable for its management. It is better that every young man should begin in a quiet way and grow up with his growing practice or business. It is also better for a young man's personal development, that his progress should not be too rapid. Easy success is the bane of many a life. It is struggle with difficulty and hardship, which brings out the best that is in a man. Those who rise quickly, without much effort, too often fail to grow into noble character meanwhile.

The object of living in this world is not to make a brilliant careeróbut to build up a worthy manhood. To have large worldly success, and not to grow into strength of character, is a great misfortune. In putting up tall buildings, a great deal of work is done on the foundations. The workmen dig down deep until they find rock or solid ground. They will spend weeks in work below the surface of the ground, and all this is covered up and hid out of sight. It is necessary to have a strong and secure foundation, if an imposing and durable superstructure is to be reared upon it.

In the building of character, it is the same. The foundations must be strong and secure. There may be a mushroom success, without any really worthy characteróbut the end can be only failure. A one-storied man may be built on a cheap and flimsy foundation. But a twenty-story man, who is to face the storms and stand foursquare to all the winds that blowómust have strength of character, principles from which nothing ever can swerve him, and almost infinite power of endurance; and these qualities can be gotten only in life's common experiences. While a young man is struggling to get a foothold in his profession or occupation, he is meanwhile building up in himself the qualities of a noble manhood, which will endure the severest tests.