HOW TO SUCCEED
Stepping-Stones to Fame and Fortune
by Orison Swett Marden
FIRST, BE A MAN.
The great need at this hour is manly men. We want no
goody-goody piety; we have too much of it. We want men who will
do right, though the heavens fall, who believe in God, and who
will confess Him.
–REV. W. J. DAWSON.
All the world cries, Where is the man who will save us? We want
a man! Don’t look so far for this man. You have him at hand.
This man–it is you, it is I; it is each one of us!… How to
constitute one’s self a man? Nothing harder, if one knows not
how to will it; nothing easier, if one wills it.
“I thank God I am a Baptist,” said a little, short Doctor of Divinity, as he mounted a step at a convention. “Louder! louder!” shouted a man in the audience; “we can’t hear.” “Get up higher,” said another. “I can’t,” replied the doctor, “to be a Baptist is as high as one can get.”
But there is something higher than being a Baptist, and that is being a _man_.
Rousseau says: “According to the order of nature, men being equal, their common vocation is the profession of humanity; and whoever is well educated to discharge the duty of a man cannot be badly prepared to fill any of those offices that have a relation to him. It matters little to me whether my pupil be designed for the army, the pulpit, or the bar. To live is the profession I would teach him. When I have done with him, it is true he will be neither a soldier, a lawyer, nor a divine. _Let him first be a man_; Fortune may remove him from one rank to another, as she pleases, he will be always found in his place.”
“First of all,” replied the boy James A. Garfield, when asked what he meant to be, “I must make myself a man; if I do not succeed in that, I can succeed in nothing.”
“Hear me, O men,” cried Diogenes, in the market place at Athens; and, when a crowd collected around him, he said scornfully, “I called for men, not pigmies.”
One great need of the world to-day is for men and women who are good animals. To endure the strain of our concentrated civilization, the coming man and woman must have an excess of animal spirits. They must have a robustness of health. Mere absence of disease is not health. It is the overflowing fountain, not the one half full, that gives life and beauty to the valley below. Only he is healthy who exults in mere animal existence; whose very life is a luxury; who feels a bounding pulse throughout his body; who feels life in every limb, as dogs do when scouring over the field, or as boys do when gliding over fields of ice.
Dispense with the doctor by being temperate; the lawyer by keeping out of debt; the demagogue, by voting for honest men; and poverty, by being industrious.
“Nephew,” said Sir Godfrey Kneller, the artist, to a Guinea slave trader, who entered the room where his uncle was talking with Alexander Pope, “you have the honor of seeing the two greatest men in the world.” “I don’t know how great men you may be,” said the Guinea man, as he looked contemptuously upon their diminutive physical proportions, “but I don’t like your looks; I have often bought a much better man than either of you, all muscles and bones, for ten guineas.”
A man is never so happy as when he suffices to himself, and can walk without crutches or a guide. Said Jean Paul Richter: “I have made as much out of myself as could be made of the stuff, and no man should require more.”
“The body of an athlete and the soul of a sage,” wrote Voltaire to Helvetius; “these are what we require to be happy.”
Although millions are out of employment in the United States, how difficult it is to find a thorough, reliable, self-dependent, industrious man or woman, young or old, for any position, whether as a domestic servant, an office boy, a teacher, a brakeman, a conductor, an engineer, a clerk, a bookkeeper, or whatever we may want. It is almost impossible to find a really _competent_ person in any department, and oftentimes we have to make many trials before we can get a position fairly well filled.
It is a superficial age; very few prepare for their work. Of thousands of young women trying to get a living at typewriting, many are so ignorant, so deficient in the common rudiments even, that they spell badly, use bad grammar, and know scarcely anything of punctuation. In fact, they murder the English language. They can copy, “parrot like,” and that is about all.
The same superficiality is found in nearly all kinds of business. It is next to impossible to get a first-class mechanic; he has not learned his trade; he has picked it up, and botches everything he touches, spoiling good material and wasting valuable time.
In the professions, it is true, we find greater skill and faithfulness, but usually they have been developed at the expense of mental and moral breadth.
The merely professional man is narrow; worse than that, he is in a sense an artificial man, a creature of technicalities and specialties, removed alike from the broad truth of nature and from the healthy influence of human converse. In society, the most accomplished man of mere professional skill is often a nullity; he has sunk his personality in his dexterity.
“The aim of every man,” said Humboldt, “should be to secure the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole.”