Many men have self-confidence and yet lack courage. That may seem to be a paradoxical statement, but if the reader will study carefully some of the men he knows, he will understand that this is the truth. Men may have plenty of confidence in themselves, but they may lack the courage to face difficulties, to overcome obstacles, to meet hard conditions, to pass through disagreeable experiences. Such are the men who lack the initiative, the push, the aggressiveness, to do as well as they know how, to do as much as they can, to undertake the high achievement for which they have the ability. The cases of such men would be hopeless were it not for the fact that some powerful incentive, like an emergency or necessity, some tremendous enthusiasm, some strong determination, some deep conviction, urges them on to the expression of the fulness of their powers. Lacking even any of these, it is possible for the man who lacks courage to develop it.
Courage is developed by doing courageous acts. The man who feels that he lacks courage, who knows that he needs to forget his fears and his anxieties, has half won his battle. Knowing his deficiencies, he can by the very power of his will compel himself to courageous words and acts, thus increasing and developing his courage and, as a result, his efficiency.
Finally, people do not undertake work in their proper vocations because of a lack of ambition. This is, indeed, a fundamental deficiency. Perhaps it underlies many of those we have already described. Certain it is that we usually obtain what we most earnestly and ardently desire. Someone has said that when a man knows definitely and in detail just exactly what he desires, he is halfway toward attainment. Now, a man does not know definitely and in detail what he wants unless he wants it so intensely that it is always in his mind; he thinks about it, dreams of it, and paints mental pictures of himself enjoying it; perhaps spends hours in working out the detail of it. When a man has an ambition which drives him on to this kind of mental exercise, he usually has one which overcomes his inertia, burns out his laziness, triumphs over his lack of confidence in himself, urges him out of grooves and ruts, and enables him to overcome deficiencies in education and training, is an incentive to him for the creating of opportunities where none exist, gives him courage for anything, and kindles ever afresh his enthusiasm and determination. There is no obstacle so great that it will not dissolve and vanish away into thin air in the heat of such an overwhelming desire and ambition as this.
We need to remind ourselves, however, that even the most ardent ambition goes astray unless it is guided by accurate knowledge. Many a man has attacked his problem with great courage and high ambition, only to meet defeat because, through lack of knowledge, he has chosen a career for which he was unfitted.