And these calls are for young men, too. Indeed, it is not the young man, but the old and middle-aged man who has the right to complain. The exactions of modern business are discriminating in favor of the man under forty. There are calls for all kinds of men. But the fiercest demand is for first-class men. You have only to be a first-class man in order to be sought for by scores of firms and corporations—and on your own terms. No! it is not the fact that there are no chances for young men to-day. The chances are all around you.
THE YOUNG MAN’S SECOND WIND; OR FACING THE WORLD AT FIFTY
Life has three tragedies: loss of honor, loss of health, and the black conclusion of men past middle life who think they have failed—played the game and lost. The young man starting out in life has my heart; but the man past fifty who feels that he has failed has my heart absolutely and with emphasis. Apparently he has so much to contend against—the onsweep of the world, the pitying attitude of those of his own age who have succeeded, and, over all, his secret feeling of despair. But the last is the only fatal element in his problem.
As a matter of fact, the man past middle life who has not achieved distinct success very possibly has only been “finding himself,” to use Mr. Kipling’s expression. Perhaps he has only been growing. Certainly he has been accumulating experience, knowledge, and the effective wisdom which only these can give. And if his failure has not been because he is a fraud, and because people found it out—if he has been, and is, genuine—it may be that he has been unconsciously preparing for continuous, enduring, and possibly great success, if he only will.
I should say that the very first thing for this man to do is to see that he does not get soured. That attitude of character is an acid which will destroy all success. Keep yourself sweet, no matter how snail-like your progress has been, no matter how paltry your apparent achievements. If you are already soured on men and the world, change that condition by a persistent habit of optimism. All death shows an acid reaction. Hopefulness is the alkaline in character.
Make “looking on the bright side” a habit. It can be done. Mingle with people as much as possible—especially with the young and buoyant and beautifully hopeful. Be a part of passing events. Read the daily newspapers. Form the habit of picking out the brighter aspects of occurrences. There is an astonishing tonic in the daily newspaper. When you read it, the blood of the world’s great vitality is pouring through you.
I know a man who is now a millionaire, but who at the age of forty was without a dollar. He is now not over fifty-five. He had spent all those forty years watching for his opportunity—aye, getting ready for it. When it came, his beak was sharpened, his talons keen as needles and strong as steel, and he swooped down upon that opportunity like a bird of prey.