Judge Elbert H. Gary was far from being a failure as a lawyer. Yet his life might have been a failure in the law in comparison to what he has accomplished and is accomplishing as the great head and organizer of the largest steel business in the United States. Oliver Wendell Holmes was successful as a physician and yet what would the world have lost if he had devoted his entire time and attention to the practice of medicine! Glen Buck once studied for the ministry. Imagine big, liberty-loving, outspoken Glen Buck trying to speak the truth as God gave him to see the truth and at the same time keep his artistic, literary, financial, and dramatic talents confined within the limits of a pastor’s activities. So it is that some men are too meek and too small for the professions—others too aggressive, too versatile, and too independent for the routine of professional life. Still others have decided talents which qualify them for unusual success in other vocations. If a man has unusual intellectual attainment, he either does or does not acquire extensive education. If he does not, the probabilities are that he will enter business; he will become a merchant, a manufacturer, a promoter, a banker, or a railroad man. In some one of the departments of industry, commerce, transportation, or finance, he makes a place for himself by hard work, beginning at the bottom. If, on the other hand, circumstances are such that he can secure an education, then he passes by business, manufacturing, transportation, finance; he must forsooth become a doctor, a lawyer, a preacher, an editor, or an engineer. The question of vocation is thus, all too often, decided by the incident of education and not according to natural aptitudes.
The young man who is ambitious to enter upon a profession ought to study himself carefully before beginning his preparation. He ought to know, not guess, whether he is qualified for the highest form of success in his chosen vocation. And there is no reason why he should not know. In the appendix to this work we have outlined the leading characteristics required for success in medicine. Some of these are absolutely essential—others contributory. Among the essentials are health, a scientific mind, pleasure in dealing with people in an intimate way, ability to inspire confidence, and courage. Many a young man has taken highest honors in medical school only to fail in practice because he could not handle people successfully, or because he lacked the courage to face the constant reiteration of complaints and suffering by his patients. Sick people are selfish, peevish, whimsical, and babyish. It takes tact, patience, understanding, and good nature to handle them successfully.
It takes a combination of fox and lion to make a successful lawyer. And yet we are besieged with sheep and rabbits who are eager to enter law school or who have passed through law school and are wondering why they do not succeed in their profession.