Honesty is a complex virtue. It means, fundamentally, just and honorable intentions. But it involves, also, knowledge of what is right, a keen and discriminating sense of justice, a true sense of values, courage and will-power to carry out honest intentions, and, finally, sufficient earning power to meet all righteous obligations. Dishonest acts result far more often from ignorance, warped sense of justice, inability to appreciate values, cowardice, weak will, or incompetence, than from wrong intent. Whether or not any individual is endowed with the necessary honesty for success in any particular vocation is, therefore, a problem which can be settled only by careful analysis of all its requirements. Law and banking both require a high degree of honesty, but the kinds are different.
Next to honesty, perhaps, courage is most important. The individual who lacks courage shows no initiative; he has no ability to fight his own battles, to stand by his guns, to assert and maintain his convictions and his rights. He is, therefore, always a misfit in any vocation where he is required to take the initiative, to step out and assume responsibilities, to guide and direct the work of others, to meet others in, competition, to discipline others, to defend himself against the attack of others, to defend the rights of those depending upon him as employees, or stockholders, or partners. He may be excellently qualified as a research worker, an experimenter, an administrator of affairs, a teacher, a writer, a lecturer, an artist, or in almost any kind of work where initiative, aggressiveness, and fighting ability are not prime essentials.
Almost as important in its bearing upon vocational fitness as honesty and courage is prudence. This is the quality which causes men to bear responsibility faithfully; it is that which makes effective in them a sense of duty. It is the emotional quality which leads men to take precautions, to provide against the future. It is that which prevents them from recklessness in expenditure or speculation, from carelessness, from irresponsibility. It is an absolutely essential quality wherever dependability is required; where one is expected to assume and to carry responsibility, to see that things are done accurately that necessities are provided, that emergencies are prevented.