On one occasion a young man of the most undoubted dramatic talent and oratorical ability sought us for counsel. “I have always felt,” he said, “a strong inner urge, sometimes almost irresistible, to go upon the platform or the stage. But, because I have lacked confidence in myself, I have always, at the last moment, drawn back. The result is that to-day I am dissatisfied and unhappy in the work I am doing. I do it poorly. I long constantly for an opportunity to express myself in public. Years are going by, I have not developed my talent as I should, and I am beginning to feel that my case is hopeless.” This lack of self-confidence is more common by far than many people would imagine. Arthur Frederick Sheldon has said: “Most men accomplish too little because they attempt too little.” Our observations incline us to believe that this is the truth. Taking humanity as a whole, far more men fail because they try to do too little than because they try to do too much. Humanity is a great mine of undiscovered and undeveloped talents. It follows that we fall far short of our best because we do not expect and demand enough of ourselves.
A man came to us for consultation in regard to his vocation. Just why he had come, it afterward turned out, it was hard to see. Perhaps he only wanted to settle matters in his own mind without taking definite action upon them. He was engaged in mercantile business, a business left to him by his father. He hated it. After a careful analysis, we informed him that he had undoubted scientific talents, and that, with training, he could make a name for himself in research and discovery. He was overjoyed at this information, but he manifested no disposition to change his vocation. He said: “Much as I dislike the mercantile business, I hate to change. A change will mean selling out, upsetting my whole mode of life and activity, removing into a different community, beginning a new life in many of its phases. I cannot look forward to such a complete revolution with any degree of pleasure, so I guess I will have to keep along in the old store, much as I would like to devote the rest of my life to test-tubes, crucibles, and scales.”
There are many such men. Change is more hateful to them than unloved work. They fall into grooves and ruts. They would rather continue in their well-worn ways than to go through the mental anguish of breaking old ties, remaking methods of life and work, moving away from friends and relatives, and otherwise changing environment, conditions, and employment.