The sixth is Courage. It’s easy enough to see obstacles, to make excuses, to procrastinate. When a hard task has to be done, you will find it no help to begin to catalog the difficulties. Just fear not, and do it.
Now, you are going to cultivate these virtues, Brainerd, because you see that I am right and because, after all, you are a man of good judgment and reason.
“Never mind the contract. When you think my advice has proved its value, send me what you think it is worth.”
And he walked out, leaving Brainerd purple in the face with a number of varied emotions, chief among which were outraged dignity and warm gratitude.
While you and we know many Brainerds, there are men capable of handling large affairs who, through lack of training, lack of opportunity, or a choice of a wrong vocation, are sentenced to sit, year after year, working away in an inefficient, fumbling manner, with a mass of details which they hate and which they are not fitted to take care of properly. Such people are often conscientious; they have a great desire to do their work thoroughly and well, and the fact that they so frequently neglect little details, forget things that they ought to do, overlook necessary precautions, and otherwise fail to perform their duties, is a matter not only of supreme regret and humiliation to them, but of great distress to those who depend upon them.
Carefulness and prudence are natural aptitudes. The careless man is not wilfully careless. He is careless because he has not the aptitudes which make a man careful. The imprudent man is not wilfully imprudent, but because he does not have the inherent qualifications for prudence, the taking of precautions, the wise and careful scrutinizing of all the elements entering into success. For some work men are required who have the natural aptitudes of carefulness and prudence. The great tragedy is that this kind of work is often entrusted to men who are so constituted that it is very easy for them to take chances. The person who is naturally optimistic and hopeful and always looks on the bright side cheerfully expects whatever he does to “come out all right,” as he expresses it. He therefore neglects to take sufficient precautions; he does not exercise care as he should; he takes unnecessary and unwise risks. The result is that oftentimes his optimism turns out to be very poorly justified. When things do go wrong on account of their carelessness, such people may feel distressed about it for a time, but they soon recover. They hope for “better luck next time.” They expect, by their ingenuity and resourcefulness, to more than make up for the troubles which have come as the result of their carelessness. On the other hand, those who are naturally careful and dependable do not have much hope of things coming out right without eternal vigilance and foresight. They are inherently somewhat apprehensive. They take precautions, are on their guard, and leave no stone unturned whose turning may insure success.