“In selecting from among the vocations I have enumerated the one that is best for you, you will, of course, be guided very largely by opportunities. At this distance I do not know just which is your best opportunity, and, therefore, cannot counsel you definitely to undertake any one of these vocations in preference to the others. If the opportunity is at hand, perhaps the position of literary or dramatic critic with a publishing house would be most congenial for you and offer you the best future. If not, then one of the others. You might even undertake a position as salesman in a book store or an art store while preparing or waiting for an opening in one of the other lines suggested.
“Whatever you undertake, however, compel yourself, in spite of obstacles, in spite of your very natural criticisms of the situation, to stick to it until you make a success of it.
“As you grow older, if you will patiently and conscientiously cultivate more deliberation, more practical sense, more self-control, and more poise, you will become more mature in judgment and gradually overcome to a greater and greater degree the handicaps which have so far interfered with your progress and the best and highest expression of your personality.”
To make a long story short, Sydney Williams and men of his type have unusual intellectual powers of analysis, criticism, memory, abstraction, and philosophy. They can master hypotheses, higher mathematics, and Hebrew irregular verbs, but they are babes in all practical affairs. They have some such conception of the plain facts of human nature, ordinary financial values, and efficient methods of commerce as a man with color blindness has of the art of Corot. Like the children they are, these people seldom suspect their deficiencies. Oftentimes they are ambitious to make a success in a commercial way. They try salesmanship, or, if they have a little capital, they may embark in some ambitious business project on their own account. They even go into farming or agriculture or poultry raising, or some kind of fancy fruit producing, with all of the optimism and cheerfulness and confidence in their ability that Sydney Williams felt for his orange growing. When they fail, it is more often through their own incompetence than because some one comes along who is mean enough to take candy from a baby. They usually dissipate their assets by impracticable schemes before the unscrupulous can take them. The only hope for such men is to learn their limitations; to learn that, even though they may be ambitious for commercial success, they are utterly unqualified for it; that, although they may wish to do something in the way of production or selling, they have neither talent, courage, secretiveness, persistence, nor other qualities necessary for a success in these lines. They are too credulous. They are too impractical. They are too lacking in fighting qualities, and, therefore, too easily imposed upon. They are usually lazy physically and find disagreeable situations hard, so that they are out of place in the rough-and-tumble, strenuous, hurly-burly of business, manufacturing, or ordinary professional life.