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Title: Success (Second Edition)
Author: Beaverbrook, Max Aitken, Baron, 1879-1964
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Success (Second Edition)" ***

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_First published in November 1921_; _Reprinted November 1921_


The contents of this volume originally appeared as weekly articles by
Lord Beaverbrook in the _Sunday Express_. They aroused so much interest,
and so many applications were received for copies of the various
articles, that it was decided to have them collected and printed in
volume form.

He who buys _Success_, reads and digests its precepts, will find this
inspiring volume a sure will-tonic. It will nerve him to be up and
doing. It will put such spring and go into him that he will make a
determined start on that road which, pursued with perseverance, leads
onwards and upwards to the desired goal--SUCCESS.


The articles embodied in this small book were written during the
pressure of many other affairs and without any idea that they would be
published as a consistent whole. It is, therefore, certain that the
critic will find in them instances of a repetition of the central idea.
This fact is really a proof of a unity of conception which justifies
their publication in a collected form. I set out to ask the question,
"What is success in the affairs of the world--how is it attained, and
how can it be enjoyed?" I have tried with all sincerity to answer the
question out of my own experience. In so doing I have strayed down many
avenues of inquiry, but all of them lead back to the central conception
of success as some kind of temple which satisfies the mind of the
ordinary practical man.

Other fields of mental satisfaction have been left entirely outside as
not germane to the inquiry.

I address myself to the young men of the new age. Those who have youth
also possess opportunity. There is in the British Empire to-day no bar
to success which resolution cannot break. The young clerk has the key of
success in his pocket, if he has the courage and the ability to turn the
lock which leads to the Temple of Success. The wide world of business
and finance is open to him. Any public dinner or meeting contains
hundreds of men who can succeed if they will only observe the rules
which govern achievement.

A career to-day is open to talent, for there is no heredity in finance,
commerce, or industry. The Succession and Death Duties are wiping out
those reserves by which old-fashioned banks and businesses warded off
from themselves for two or three generations the result of hereditary
incompetence. Ability is bound to be recognised from whatever source it
springs. The struggle in finance and commerce is too intense and the
battle too world-wide to prevent individual efficiency playing a bigger
and a better rôle.

If I have given encouragement to a single young man to set his feet on
the path which leads upwards to success, and warned him of a few of the
perils which will beset him on the road, I shall feel perfectly
satisfied that this book has not been written in vain.



















Success--that is the royal road we all want to tread, for the echo off
its flagstones sounds pleasantly in the mind. It gives to man all that
the natural man desires: the opportunity of exercising his activities to
the full; the sense of power; the feeling that life is a slave, not a
master; the knowledge that some great industry has quickened into life
under the impulse of a single brain.

To each his own particular branch of this difficult art. The artist
knows one joy, the soldier another; what delights the business man
leaves the politician cold. But however much each section of society
abuses the ambitions or the morals of the other, all worship equally at
the same shrine. No man really wants to spend his whole life as a
reporter, a clerk, a subaltern, a private Member, or a curate. Downing
Street is as attractive as the oak-leaves of the field-marshal; York and
Canterbury as pleasant as a dominance in Lombard Street or Burlington

For my own part I speak of the only field of success I know--the world
of ordinary affairs. And I start with a contradiction in terms. Success
is a constitutional temperament bestowed on the recipient by the gods.
And yet you may have all the gifts of the fairies and fail utterly. Man
cannot add an inch to his stature, but by taking thought he can walk
erect; all the gifts given at birth can be destroyed by a single curse.

Like all human affairs, success is partly a matter of predestination and
partly of free will. You cannot make the genius, but you can either
improve or destroy it, and most men and women possess the assets which
can be turned into success.

But those who possess the precious gifts will have both to hoard and to
expand them.

What are the qualities which make for success? They are three:
Judgment, Industry, and Health, and perhaps the greatest of these is
judgment. These are the three pillars which hold up the fabric of
success. But in using the word judgment one has said everything.

In the affairs of the world it is the supreme quality. How many men have
brilliant schemes and yet are quite unable to execute them, and through
their very brilliancy stumble unawares upon ruin? For round judgment
there cluster many hundred qualities, like the setting round a jewel:
the capacity to read the hearts of men; to draw an inexhaustible
fountain of wisdom from every particle of experience in the past, and
turn the current of this knowledge into the dynamic action of the
future. Genius goes to the heart of a matter like an arrow from a bow,
but judgment is the quality which learns from the world what the world
has to teach and then goes one better. Shelley had genius, but he would
not have been a success in Wall Street--though the poet showed a flash
of business knowledge in refusing to lend money to Byron.

In the ultimate resort judgment is the power to assimilate knowledge
and to use it. The opinions of men and the movement of markets are all
so much material for the perfected instrument of the mind.

But judgment may prove a sterile capacity if it is not accompanied by
industry. The mill must have grist on which to work, and it is industry
which pours in the grain.

A great opportunity may be lost and an irretrievable error committed by
a brief break in the lucidity of the intellect or in the train of
thought. "He who would be Cæsar anywhere," says Kipling, "must know
everything everywhere." Nearly everything comes to the man who is always
all there.

Men are not really born either hopelessly idle, or preternaturally
industrious. They may move in one direction or the other as will or
circumstances dictate, but it is open to any man to work. Hogarth's
industrious and idle apprentice point a moral, but they do not tell a
true tale. The real trouble about industry is to apply it in the right
direction--and it is therefore the servant of judgment. The true secret
of industry well applied is concentration, and there are many
well-known ways of learning that art--the most potent handmaiden of
success. Industry can be acquired; it should never be squandered.

But health is the foundation both of judgment and industry--and
therefore of success. And without health everything is difficult. Who
can exercise a sound judgment if he is feeling irritable in the morning?
Who can work hard if he is suffering from a perpetual feeling of

The future lies with the people who will take exercise and not too much
exercise. Athleticism may be hopeless as a career, but as a drug it is
invaluable. No ordinary man can hope to succeed who does not work his
body in moderation. The danger of the athlete is to believe that in
kicking a goal he has won the game of life. His object is no longer to
be fit for work, but to be superfit for play. He sees the means and the
end through an inverted telescope. The story books always tell us that
the Rowing Blue finishes up as a High Court Judge.

The truth is very different. The career of sport leads only to failure,
satiety, or impotence.

The hero of the playing fields becomes the dunce of the office. Other
men go on playing till middle-age robs them of their physical powers. At
the end the whole thing is revealed as vanity. Play tennis or golf once
a day and you may be famous; play it three times a day and you will be
in danger of being thought a professional--without the reward.

The pursuit of pleasure is equally ephemeral. Time and experience rob
even amusement of its charm, and the night before is not worth next
morning's headache. Practical success alone makes early middle-age the
most pleasurable period of a man's career. What has been worked for in
youth then comes to its fruition.

It is true that brains alone are not influence, and that money alone is
not influence, but brains and money combined are power. And fame, the
other object of ambition, is only another name for either money or

Never was there a moment more favourable for turning talent towards
opportunity and opportunity into triumph than Great Britain now presents
to the man or woman whom ambition stirs to make a success of life. The
dominions of the British Empire abolished long ago the privileges which
birth confers. No bar has been set there to prevent poverty rising to
the heights of wealth and power, if the man were found equal to the

The same development has taken place in Great Britain to-day. Men are no
longer born into Cabinets; the ladder of education is rapidly reaching a
perfection which enables a man born in a cottage or a slum attaining the
zenith of success and power.

There stand the three attributes to be attained--Judgment, Industry, and
Health. Judgment can be improved, industry can be acquired, health can
be attained by those who will take the trouble. These are the three
pillars on which we can build the golden pinnacle of success.



Near by the Temple of Success based on the three pillars of Health,
Industry, and Judgment, stands another temple. Behind the curtains of
its doors is concealed the secret of happiness.

There are, of course, many forms of that priceless gift. Different
temperaments will interpret it differently. Various experiences will
produce variations of the blessing. A man may make a failure in his
affairs and yet remain happy. The spiritual and inner life is a thing
apart from material success. Even a man who, like Robert Louis
Stevenson, suffers from chronic ill-health can still be happy.

But we must leave out these exceptions and deal with the normal man, who
lives by and for his practical work, and who desires and enjoys both
success and health. Granted that he has these two possessions, must he
of necessity be happy? Not so. He may have access to the first temple,
but the other temple may still be forbidden him. A rampant ambition can
be a torture to him. An exaggerated selfishness can make his life
miserable, or an uneasy conscience may join with the sins of pride to
take their revenge on his mentality. For the man who has attained
success and health there are three great rules: "To do justly, and to
love mercy, and to walk humbly." These are the three pillars of the
Temple of Happiness.

Justice, which is another word for honesty in practice and in intention,
is perhaps the easiest of the virtues for the successful man of affairs
to acquire. His experience has schooled him to something more profound
than the acceptance of the rather crude dictum that "Honesty is the best
policy"--which is often interpreted to mean that it is a mistake to go
to gaol. But real justice must go far beyond a mere fear of the law, or
even a realisation that it does not pay to indulge in sharp practice in
business. It must be a mental habit--a fixed intention to be fair in
dealing with money or politics, a natural desire to be just and to
interpret all bargains and agreements in the spirit as well as in the

The idea that nearly all successful men are unscrupulous is very
frequently accepted. To the man who knows, the doctrine is simply
foolish. Success is not the only or the final test of character, but it
is the best rough-and-ready reckoner. The contrary view that success
probably implies a moral defect springs from judging a man by the
opinions of his rivals, enemies, or neighbours. The real judges of a
man's character are his colleagues. If they speak well of him, there is
nothing much wrong. The failure, on the other hand, can always be sure
of being popular with the men who have beaten him. They give him a
testimonial instead of a cheque. It would be too curious a speculation
to pursue to ask whether Justice, like the other virtues, is not a form
of self-interest. To answer it in the affirmative would condemn equally
the doctrines of the Sermon on the Mount and the advice to do unto
others what they should do unto you. But this is certain. No man can be
happy if he suffers from a perpetual doubt of his own justice.

The second quality, Mercy, has been regarded as something in contrast or
conflict with justice. It is not really so. Mercy resembles the
prerogative of the judge to temper the law to suit individual cases. It
must be of a kindred temper with justice, or it would degenerate into
mere weakness or folly. A man wants to be certain of his own just
inclination before he can dare to handle mercy. But the quality of mercy
is, perhaps, not so common in the human heart as to require this
caution. It is a quality that has to be acquired. But the man of success
and affairs ought to be the last person to complain of the difficulty of
acquiring it. He has in his early days felt the whip-hand too often not
to sympathise with the feelings of the under-dog. And he always knows
that at some time in his career he, too, may need a merciful
interpretation of a financial situation. Shakespeare may not have had
this in his mind when he said that mercy "blesseth him that gives and
him that takes"; but he is none the less right. Those who exercise mercy
lay up a store of it for themselves. Shylock had law on his side, but
not justice or mercy. One is reminded of his case by the picture of
certain Jews and Gentiles alike as seen playing roulette at Monte Carlo.
Their losses, inevitable to any one who plays long enough, seem to
sadden them. M. Blanc would be doing a real act of mercy if he would
exact his toll not in cash, but in flesh. Some of the players are of a
figure and temperament which would miss the pound of flesh far less than
the pound sterling.

What, then, in its essence is the quality of mercy? It is something
beyond the mere desire not to push an advantage too far. It is a feeling
of tenderness springing out of harsh experience, as a flower springs out
of a rock. It is an inner sense of gratitude for the scheme of things,
finding expression in outward action, and, therefore, assuring its
possessor of an abiding happiness.

The quality of Humility is by far the most difficult to attain. There
is something deep down in the nature of a successful man of affairs
which seems to conflict with it. His career is born in a sense of
struggle and courage and conquest, and the very type of the effort seems
to invite in the completed form a temperament of arrogance. I cannot
pretend to be humble myself; all I can confess is the knowledge that in
so far as I could acquire humility I should be happier. Indeed, many
instances prove that success and humility are not incompatible. One of
the most eminent of our politicians is by nature incurably modest. The
difficulty in reconciling the two qualities lies in that "perpetual
presence of self to self which, though common enough in men of great
ambition and ability, never ceases to be a flaw."

But there is certainly one form of humility which all successful men
ought to be able to practise. They can avoid a fatal tendency to look
down on and despise the younger men who are planting their feet in their
own footsteps. The established arrogance which refuses credit or
opportunity to rising talent is unpardonable. A man who gives way to
what is really simply a form of jealousy cannot hope to be happy, for
jealousy is above all others the passion which tears the heart.

The great stumbling block which prevents success embracing humility is
the difficulty of distinguishing between the humble mind and the
cowardly one. When does humility merge into moral cowardice and courage
into arrogance? Some men in history have had this problem solved for
them. Stonewall Jackson is a type of the man of supreme courage and
action and judgment who was yet supremely humble--but he owed his bodily
and mental qualities to nature and his humility to the intensity of his
Presbyterian faith. Few men are so fortunately compounded.

Still, if the moral judgment is worth anything, a man should be able to
practise courage without arrogance and to walk humbly without fear. If
he can accomplish the feat he will reap no material reward, but an
immense harvest of inner well-being. He will have found the blue bird of
happiness which escapes so easily from the snare. He will have joined
Justice to Mercy and added Humility to Courage, and in the light of this
self-knowledge he will have attained the zenith of a perpetual



Some of the critics do not believe that the pinnacle of success stands
only on the three pillars of Judgment, Industry, and Health. They point
out that I have omitted one vital factor--Luck. So widespread is this
belief, largely pagan in its origin, that mere fortune either makes or
unmakes men, that it seems worth while to discuss and refute this
dangerous delusion.

Of course, if the doctrine merely means that men are the victims of
circumstances and surroundings, it is a truism. It is luckier to be born
heir to a peerage and £100,000 than to be born in Whitechapel. Past and
present Chancellors of the Exchequer have gone far in removing much of
this discrepancy in fortune. Again, a disaster which destroys a single
individual may alter the whole course of a survivor's career. But the
devotees of the Goddess of Luck do not mean this at all. They hold that
some men are born lucky and others unlucky, as though some Fortune
presided at their birth; and that, irrespective of all merits, success
goes to those on whom Fortune smiles and defeat to those on whom she
frowns. Or at least luck is regarded as a kind of attribute of a man
like a capacity for arithmetic or games.

This view is in essence the belief of the true gambler--not the man who
backs his skill at cards, or his knowledge of racing against his
rival--but who goes to the tables at Monte Carlo backing runs of good or
ill luck. It has been defined as a belief in the imagined tendencies of
chance to produce events continuously favourable or continuously

The whole conception is a nightmare of the mind, peculiarly unfavourable
to success in business. The laws of games of chance are as inexorable as
those of the universe. A skilful player will, in the long run, defeat a
less skilful one; the bank at Monte Carlo will always beat the
individual if he stays long enough. I presume that the bank there is
managed honestly, although I neither know nor care whether it is. But
this at least is certain--the cagnotte gains 3 per cent. on every spin.
Mathematically, a man is bound to lose the capital he invests in every
thirty throws when his luck is neither good nor bad. In the long run his
luck will leave him with a balanced book--minus the cagnotte. My advice
to any man would be, "Never play roulette at all; but if you must play,
hold the cagnotte."

The Press, of course, often publishes stories of great fortunes made at
Monte Carlo. The proprietors there understand publicity. Such statements
bring them new patrons.

It is necessary to dwell on this gambling side of the question, because
every man who believes in luck has a touch of the gambler in him, though
he may never have played a stake. And from the point of view of real
success in affairs the gambler is doomed in advance. It is a frame of
mind which a man should discourage severely when he finds it within the
citadel of his mind. It is a view which too frequently infects young men
with more ambition than industry.

The view of Fortune as some shining goddess sweeping down from heaven
and touching the lucky recipient with her pinions of gold dazzles the
mind of youth. Men think that with a single stroke they will either be
made rich for life or impoverished for ever.

The more usual view is less ambitious. It is the complaint that Fortune
has never looked a man's way. Failure due to lack of industry is excused
on the ground that the goddess has proved adverse. There is a third form
of this mental disease. A young man spoke to me in Monte Carlo the other
day, and said, "I could do anything if only I had the chance, but that
chance never comes my way." On that same evening I saw the aspirant
throwing away whatever chance he may have had at the tables.

A similar type of character is to be found in the young man who
consistently refuses good offers or even small chances of work because
they are not good enough for him. He expects that Luck will suddenly
bestow on him a ready-made position or a gorgeous chance suitable to the
high opinions he holds of his own capacities. After a time people tire
of giving him any openings at all. In wooing the Goddess of Luck he has
neglected the Goddess of Opportunity.

These men in middle age fall into a well-known class. They can be seen
haunting the Temple, and explaining to their more industrious and
successful associates that they would have been Lord Chancellor if a big
brief had ever come their way. They develop that terrible disease known
as "the genius of the untried." Their case is almost as pitiful or
ludicrous as that of the man of very moderate abilities whom drink or
some other vice has rendered quite incapable. There will still be found
men to whisper to each other as he passes, "Ah, if Brown didn't drink,
he might do anything."

Far different will be the mental standpoint of the man who really means
to succeed. He will banish the idea of luck from his mind. He will
accept every opportunity, however small it may appear, which seems to
lead to the possibility of greater things. He will not wait on luck to
open the portals to fortune. He will seize opportunity by the forelock
and develop its chances by his industry. Here and there he may go
wrong, where judgment or experience is lacking. But out of his very
defeats he will learn to do better in the future, and in the maturity of
his knowledge he will attain success. At least, he will not be found
sitting down and whining that luck alone has been against him.

There remains a far more subtle argument in favour of the gambling
temperament which believes in luck. It is that certain men possess a
kind of sixth sense in the realm of speculative enterprise. These men,
it is said, know by inherent instinct, divorced from reasoned knowledge,
what enterprise will succeed or fail, or whether the market will rise or
fall. They are the children of fortune.

The real diagnosis of these cases is a very different one from that put
forward by the mystic apostles of the Golden Luck. Eminent men who are
closely in touch with the great affairs of politics or business often
act on what appears to be a mere instinct of this kind. But, in truth,
they have absorbed, through a careful and continuous study of events
both in the present and the past, so much knowledge, that their minds
reach a conclusion automatically, just as the heart beats without any
stimulus from the brain. Ask them for the reasons of their decision, and
they become inarticulate or unintelligible in their replies. Their
conscious mind cannot explain the long-hoarded experience of their
subconscious self. When they prove right in their forecast, the world
exclaims, "What luck!" Well, if luck of that kind is long enough
continued it will be best ascribed to judgment.

The real "lucky" speculator is of a very different character. He makes a
brilliant coup or so and then disappears in some overwhelming disaster.
He is as quick in losing his fortune as he is in making it. Nothing
except Judgment and Industry, backed by Health, will ensure real and
permanent success. The rest is sheer superstition.

Two pictures may be put before the believer in luck as an element in
success. The one is Monte Carlo--where the Goddess Fortune is chiefly
worshipped--steeped in almost perpetual sunshine, piled in castellated
masses against its hills, gaining the sense of the illimitable from the
blue horizon of the Mediterranean--a shining land meant for clean
exercise and repose. Yet there youth is only seen in its depravity,
while old age flocks to the central gambling hell to excite or mortify
its jaded appetites by playing a game it is bound to lose.

Here you may see in their decay the people who believe in luck, steeped
in an atmosphere of smoke and excitement, while beauty of Nature or the
pursuits of health call to them in vain. Three badly lighted tennis
courts compete with thirty splendidly furnished casino rooms. But of
means for obtaining the results of exercise without the exertion there
is no end. The Salle des Bains offers to the fat and the jaded the hot
bath, the electric massage, and all the mechanical instruments for
restoring energy. Modern science and art combine to outdo the
attractions of the baths of Imperial Rome.

In far different surroundings from these were born the careers of the
living captains of modern industry and finance--Inchcape, Pirrie,
Cowdray, Leverhulme, or McKenna. These men believed in industry, not in
fortune, and in judgment rather than in chance. The youth of this
generation will do well to be guided by their example, and follow their
road to success. Not by the worship of the Goddess of Luck were the
great fortunes established or the great reputations made.

It is natural and right for youth to hope, but if hope turns to a belief
in luck, it becomes a poison to the mind. The youth of England has
before it a splendid opportunity, but let it remember always that
nothing but work and brains counts, and that a man can even work himself
into brains. No goddess will open to any man the portals of the temple
of success. Young men must advance boldly to the central shrine along
the arduous but well-tried avenues of Judgment and Industry.



Judgment, Industry, and Health, as the instruments of success, depend
largely on a fourth quality, which may be called either restraint or
moderation. The successful men of these arduous days are those who
control themselves strictly.

Those who are learned in the past may point out exceptions to this rule.
But Charles James Fox or Bolingbroke were only competing with equals in
the art of genteel debauchery. Their habits were those of their
competitors. They were not fighting men who safeguarded their health and
kept a cool head in the morning. It is impossible to imagine to-day a
leader of the Opposition who, after a night of gambling at faro, would
go down without a breakfast or a bath to develop an important attack on
the Government. The days of the brilliant debauchee are over.
Politicians no longer retire for good at forty to nurse the gout. The
antagonists that careless genius would have to meet in the modern world
would be of sterner stuff.

The modern men of action realise that a sacrifice of health is a
sacrifice of years--and that every year is of value. They protect their
constitutions as the final bulwark against the assault of the enemy. A
man without a digestion is likely to be a man without a heart. Political
and financial courage spring as much from the nerves or the stomach as
from the brain. And without courage no politician or business man is
worth anything. Moderation is, therefore, the secret of success.

And, above all, I would urge on ambitious youth the absolute necessity
of moderation in alcohol. I am the last man in the world to be in favour
of the regulation of the social habits of the people by law. Here every
man should be his own controller and law-giver. But this much is
certain: no man can achieve success who is not strict with himself in
this matter; nor is it a bad thing for an aspiring man of business to be
a teetotaller.

Take the case of the Prime Minister. No man is more careful of himself.
He sips a single glass of burgundy at dinner for the obvious reason that
he enjoys it, and not because it might stimulate his activities. He has
given up the use of tobacco. Bolingbroke as a master of manoeuvres would
have had a poor chance against him. For Bolingbroke lost his nerve in
the final disaster, whereas the Prime Minister could always be trusted
to have all his wits and courage about him. Mr. Lloyd George is regarded
as a man riding the storm of politics with nerves to drive him on. No
view could be more untrue. In the very worst days of the war in 1916 he
could be discovered at the War Office taking his ten minutes' nap with
his feet up on a chair and discarded newspapers lying like the débris of
a battle-field about him. It would be charitable to suppose that he had
fallen asleep before he had read his newspapers! He even takes his golf
in very moderate doses. We are often told that he needs a prolonged
holiday, but somewhere in his youth he finds inexhaustible reserves of
power which he conserves into his middle age. In this way he has found
the secret of his temporary Empire. It is for this reason that the man
in command is never too busy to see a caller who has the urgency of
vital business at his back.

The Ex-Leader of the Conservative Party, Mr. Bonar Law, however much he
may differ from the Premier in many aspects of his temperament, also
finds the foundation of his judgment in exercise and caution. As a
player of games he is rather poor, but makes up in enthusiasm for tennis
what he lacks in skill. His habits are almost ascetic in their rigour.
He drinks nothing, and the finest dinner a cook ever conceived would be
wasted on him. A single course of the plainest food suffices his
appetite, and he grows manifestly uneasy when faced with a long meal.
His pipe, his one relaxation, never far absent, seems to draw him with a
magic attraction. As it was, his physical resources stood perhaps the
greatest strain that has been imposed on any public man in our time.
From the moment when he joined the first Coalition Government in 1915 to
the day when he laid down office in 1921 he was beset by cares and
immersed in labours which would have overwhelmed almost any other man.
Neither this nor succeeding Coalition Governments were popular with a
great section of his Conservative followers, and to the task of taking
decisions on the war was added the constant and irritating necessity of
keeping his own supporters in line with the administration. In 1916 he
had to take the vital decision which displaced Mr. Asquith in favour of
Mr. Lloyd George, and during the latter's Premiership he had to suffer
the strain of constantly accommodating himself, out of a feeling of
personal loyalty, to methods which were not congenial to his own nature.
In the face of all these stresses he never would take a holiday, and
nothing except the rigid moderation of his life enabled him to keep the
cool penetration of his judgment intact and his physical vigour going
during those six terrible years.

The Lord Chancellor might appear to be an exception to the rule. This is
very far from being the case. It is true that his temperament knows no
mean either in work or play. One of the most successful speeches he ever
delivered in the House of Commons was the fruit of a day of violent
exercise, followed by a night of preparation, with a wet towel tied
round the head. And yet he appeared perfectly fresh; he has the
priceless asset of the most marvellous constitution in the British
Empire. Kipling's poem on France suggests an adaptation to describe the
Lord Chancellor:

    "Furious in luxury, merciless in toil,
     Terrible with strength renewed from a tireless soil."

No man has spent himself more freely in the hunting-field or works
harder to-day at games. Yet, with all this tendency to the extreme of
work and play, he is a man of iron resolution and determined
self-control. Although the most formidable enemy of the Pussyfooters and
the most powerful protector of freedom in the social habits of the
people that the Cabinet contains, he is, like Mr. Bonar Law, a
teetotaler. It is this capacity for governing himself which is pointing
upwards to still greater heights of power.

Mr. McKenna is, perhaps, the most striking instance of what
determination can achieve in the way of health and physique. His rowing
Blue was the simple and direct result of taking pains--in the form of a
rowing dummy in which he practised in his own rooms. The achievement
was typical of a career which has in its dual success no parallel in
modern life. There have been many Chancellors of the Exchequer and many
big men in the City. That a man, after forcing his way to the front in
politics, should transfer his activities to the City and become in a
short four years its most commanding figure is unheard of. And Mr.
McKenna had the misfortune to enter public life with the handicap of a
stutter. He set himself to cure it by reading Burke aloud to his family,
and he cured it. He was then told by his political friends that he spoke
too quickly to be effective. He cured himself of this defect too, by
rehearsing his speeches to a time machine--an ordinary stop-watch, not
one of the H.G. Wells' variety. Indeed, if any man can be said to have
"made himself," it is Mr. McKenna. He bridges the gulf between politics
and the City, and brings one to a final instance of the purely business

Mr. Gordon Selfridge is an exemplar of the simple life practical in the
midst of unbounded success. He goes to his office every morning
regularly at nine o'clock. In the midst of opulence he eats a frugal
lunch in a room which supplies the one thing of which he is
avaricious--big windows and plenty of fresh air. For light and air spell
for him, as for the rest of us, health and sound judgment. He possesses,
indeed, one terrible and hidden secret--a kind of baron's castle
somewhere in the heart of South England, where he may retire beyond the
pursuit of King or people, and hurl his defiance from its walls to all
the intruders which threaten the balance of the mind. No one has yet
discovered this castle, for it exists only on paper. When Mr. Gordon
Selfridge requires mental relaxation, he may be found poring over the
plans which are to be the basis of this fairy edifice. Moat and parapet,
tower, dungeon, and drawbridge, are all there, only awaiting the Mason
of the future to translate them into actuality. But the success of Mr.
Selfridge lies in his frugality, and not in his dreams. One can afford
to have a castle in Spain when one possesses the money to pay for it.

It is the complexity of modern life which enforces moderation. Science
has created vast populations and huge industries, and also given the
means by which single minds can direct them. Invention gives these
gifts, and compels man to use them. Man is as much the slave as the
master of the machine, as he turns to the telephone or the telegram. In
this fierce turmoil of the modern world he can only keep his judgment
intact, his nerves sound, and his mind secure by the process of
self-discipline, which may be equally defined as restraint, control, or
moderation. This is the price which must be paid for the gifts the gods



Many serious letters and a half-humorous criticism in _Punch_ suggest
that I am to be regarded as the apostle of a pure materialism. That is
not so. I quite recognise the existence of other ambitions in the walks
of Art, Religion, or Literature. But at the very outset I confined the
scope of my advice to those who wish to triumph in practical affairs. I
am talking to the young men who want to succeed in business and to build
up a new nation. Criticism based on any other conception of my purpose
is a spent shaft.

Money--the word has a magical sound. It conjures up before the vision
some kind of enchanted paradise where to wish is to have--Aladdin's lamp
brought down to earth.

Yet in reality money carries with it only two qualities of value: the
character it creates in the making; the self-expression of the
individuality in the use of it, when once it has been made. The art of
making money implies all those qualities--resolution, concentration,
economy, self-control--which make for success and happiness. The power
of using it makes a man who has become the captain of his own soul in
the process of its acquirement also the master of the circumstances
which surround him. He can shape his immediate world to his own liking.
Apart from these two faculties, character in acquirement, power in use,
money has little value, and is just as likely to be a curse as a
blessing. For this reason the money master will care little for leaving
vast wealth to his descendants. He knows that they would be better men
for going down stripped into the struggle, with no inheritance but that
of brains and character. Wealth without either the wish, the brains, or
the power to use it is too often the medium through which men pamper the
flesh with good living, and the mind with inanity, until death,
operating through the liver, hurries the fortunate youth into an early
grave. The inheritance tax should have no terrors for the millionaire.

The value of money is, therefore, first in the striving for it and then
in the use of it. The ambition itself is a fine one--but how is it to be

I would lay down certain definite rules for the guidance of the young
man who, starting with small things, is determined to go on to great

    1. The first key which opens the door of success is the trading
    instinct, the knowledge and sense of the real value of any article.
    Without it a man need not trouble to enter business at all, but if
    he possesses it even in a rudimentary form he can cultivate it in
    the early days when the mind is still plastic, until it develops
    beyond all recognition. When I was a boy I knew the value in
    exchange of every marble in my village, and this practice of valuing
    became a subconscious habit until, so long as I remained in
    business, I always had an intuitive perception of the real and not
    the face value of any article.

    The young man who will walk through life developing the capacity for
    determining values, and then correcting his judgments by his
    information, is the man who will succeed in business.

    2. But supposing that a young man has acquired this sense of
    values, he may yet ruin himself before he comes to the fruition of
    his talent if he will not practise economy. By economy I mean the
    economic conduct of his business. Examine your profit and loss
    account before you go out to conquer the financial world, and then
    go out for conquest--if the account justifies the enterprise. Too
    many men spend their time in laying down "pipe-lines" for future
    profits which may not arrive or only arrive for some newcomer who
    has taken over the business. There is nothing like sticking to one
    line of business until you have mastered it. A man who has learned
    how to conduct a single industry at a profit has conquered the
    obstacles which stand in the way of success in the larger world of

    3. Do not try to cut with too wide a swath. This last rule is the
    most important of all. Many promising young men have fallen into
    ruin from the neglect of this simple principle. It is so easy for
    premature ambition to launch men out into daring schemes for which
    they have neither the resources nor the experience. Acquire the
    knowledge of values, practise economy, and learn to read the minds
    of men, and your technique will then be perfected and ready for use
    on wider fields. The instinct for values, the habit of economy, the
    technique of business, are only three forms of the supreme quality
    of that judgment which is success.

For these reasons it is the first £10,000 which counts. There is the
real struggle, the test of character, and the warranty of success. Youth
and strength are given us to use in that first struggle, and a man must
feel those early deals right down to the pit of his stomach if he is
going to be a great man of business. They must shake the very fibre of
his being as the conception of a great picture shakes an artist. But the
first ten thousand made, he can advance with greater freedom and take
affairs in his stride. He will have the confidence of experience, and
can paint with a big brush because all the details of affairs are now
familiar to his mentality. With this assured technique nothing will
check the career. "Why," says the innkeeper in an adaptation from
Bernard Shaw's sketch of Napoleon in Italy, "conquering countries is
like folding a tablecloth. Once the first fold is made, the rest is
easy. Conquer one, conquer all."

Such in effect is the career of the great captains of industry. Yet the
man who attains, by the practice of these rules, a great fortune, may
fail of real achievement and happiness. He may not be able to recognise
that the qualities of the aspirant are not exactly the qualities of the
man who has arrived. The sense of general responsibility must supersede
the spirit of private adventure.

The stability of credit becomes the watchword of high finance. Thus the
great money master will not believe that periods of depression are of
necessity ruinous. It is true that no great profits will be made in such
years of depression. But the lean years will not last for ever. Industry
during the period of deflation goes through a process like that of an
over-fat man taking a Turkish bath. The extravagances are eliminated,
new invention and energy spring up to meet the call of necessity, and
when the boom years come again it finds industry, like a highly trained
athlete, ready to pour out the goods and pay the wages. Economic
methods are nurtured by depression.

But when all has been said and done, the sceptic may still question us.
Is the capacity to make money something to be desired and striven for,
something worth having in the character, some proof of ability in the
mind? The answer is "Yes."

Money which is striven for brings with it the real qualities in life.
Here are the counters which mark character and brains. The money brain
is, in the modern world, the supreme brain. Why? Because that which the
greatest number of men strive for will produce the fiercest competition
of intellect. Politics are for the few; they are a game, a fancy, or an
inheritance. Leaving out the man of genius who flares out, perhaps, once
or twice in a century, the amount of ability which enables a man to cut
a very respectable figure in a Cabinet is extraordinarily low, compared
with that demanded in the world of industry and finance. The politician
will never believe this, but it is so.

The battles of the market-place are real duels, on which realities of
life and death and fortune or poverty and even of fame depend. Here men
fight with a precipice behind them, not a pension of £2,000 a year. The
young men who go down into that press must win their spurs by no man's
favour. But youth can triumph; it has the resolution when the mind is
still plastic to gain that judgment which experience gives.

My advice to the young men of to-day is simply this: Money is nothing
but the fruit of resolution and intellect applied to the affairs of the
world. To an unshakable resolution fortune will oppose no bar.



A great number of letters have reached me from young men who seem to
think that the road to success is barred to them owing to defects in
their education. To them I would send this message:

    Never believe that success cannot come your way because you have
    not been educated in the orthodox and regular fashion.

The nineteenth century made a god of education, and its eminent men
placed learning as the foremost influence in life.

I am bold enough to dissent, if by education is meant a course of study
imposed from without. Indeed, such a course may be a hindrance rather
than a help to a man entering on a business career. No young man on the
verge of life ought to be in the least discouraged by the fact that he
is not stamped with the hall mark of Oxford or Cambridge.

Possibly, indeed, he has escaped a grave danger; for if, in the
impressionable period of youth, attention is given to one kind of
knowledge, it may very likely be withdrawn from another. A life of
sheltered study does not allow a boy to learn the hard facts of the
world--and business is concerned with reality. The truth is that
education is the fruit of temperament, not success the fruit of
education. What a man draws into himself by his own natural volition is
what counts, because it becomes a living part of himself. I will make
one exception in my own case--the Shorter Catechism, which was acquired
by compulsion and yet remains with me.

My own education was of a most rudimentary description. It will be
difficult for the modern English mind to grasp the parish of Newcastle,
New Brunswick, in the 'eighties--sparse patches of cultivation
surrounded by the virgin forest and broken by the rush of an immense
river. For half the year the land is in the iron grip of snow and frost,
and the Miramichi is frozen right down to its estuary--so that "the
rain is turned to a white dust, and the sea to a great green stone."

It was the seasons which decided my compulsory education. In the winter
I attended school because it was warm inside, and in the summer I spent
my time in the woods because it was warm outside.

Perhaps the most remarkable instance of what self-education can do is to
be found in the achievements of Mr. J.L. Garvin. He received no formal
education at all in the public school or university sense, and he began
to work for his living at an early age. Yet, not only is he, perhaps,
the most eminent of living journalists, but his knowledge of books is,
if not more profound than that of any other man in England, certainly
wider in range, for it is not limited to any country or language. By his
own unaided efforts he has gained not only knowledge, but style and
judgment. To listen to his talk on literature is not merely to yield
oneself to the spell of the magician, but to feel that the critic has
got his estimate of values right.

Reading, indeed, is the real source both of education and of style.
Read what you like, not what somebody else tells you that you ought to
like. That reading alone is valuable which becomes part of the reader's
own mind and nature, and this can never be the case if the matter is not
the result of self-selection, but forced on the student from outside.

Read anything and read everything--just as a man with a sound digestion
and a good appetite eats largely and indifferently of all that is set
before him. The process of selection and rejection, or, in other words,
of taste, will come best and naturally to any man who has the right kind
of brains in his head. Some books he will throw away; others he will
read over and over again. My education owes much to Scott and Stevenson,
stealthily removed from my father's library and read in the hayloft when
I should have been in school.

As a partiality for the right kind of literature grows on a man he is
unconsciously forming his mind and his taste and his style, and by a
natural impulse and no forced growth the whole world of letters is his.

There are, of course, in addition, certain special branches of
education needing teaching which are of particular value to the business

Foremost among these are mathematics and foreign languages. It is not
suggested that a knowledge of the higher mathematics is essential to a
successful career; none the less it is true that the type of mind which
takes readily to mathematics is the kind which succeeds in the realm of
industry and finance.

One of the things I regret is that my business career was shaped on a
continent which speaks one single language for commercial purposes from
the Arctic Circle to the Gulf of Mexico. Foreign languages are,
therefore, a sealed book to me. But if a man can properly appraise the
value of something he does not possess, I would place a knowledge of
languages high in the list of acquirements making for success.

But when all is said and done, the real education is the market-place of
the street. There the study of character enables the boy of judgment to
develop an unholy proficiency in estimating the value of the currency of
the realm.

Experiences teaches that no man ought to be downcast in setting out on
the adventure of life by a lack of formal knowledge. The Lord
Chancellor asked me the other day where I was going to educate one of my
sons. When I replied that I had not thought about the matter, and did
not care, he was unable to repress his horror.

And yet the real reasons for such indifference are deep rooted in my
mind. A boy is master, and the only master, of his fortune. If he wants
to succeed in literature, he will read the classics until he obtains by
what he draws into himself that kind of instinct which enables him to
distinguish between good work and bad, just as the expert with his eyes
shut knows the difference between a good and a bad cigar. Neither may be
able to give any reason, for the verdict bases on subconscious
knowledge, but each will be right when he says, "Here I have written
well," or "Here I have smoked badly."

The message, therefore, is one of encouragement to the young men of
England who are determined to succeed in the affairs of the world, and
yet have not been through the mill. The public schools turn out a
type--the individual turns out himself. In the hour of action it is
probable that the individual will defeat the type. Nothing is of
advantage in style except reading for oneself. Nothing is of advantage
in the art of learning to know a good cigar but the actual practice of
smoking. Nothing is of advantage in business except going in young,
liking the game, and buying one's experience.

In a word, man is the creator and not the sport of his fate. He can
triumph over his upbringing and, what is more, over himself.



What is arrogance? To begin with, it is the besetting sin of young men
who have begun to prosper by their own exertions in the affairs of the
world. It is not pride, which is a more or less just estimate of one's
own power and responsibilities. It is not vanity or conceit, which
consists in pluming oneself exactly on the qualities one does not
possess. Arrogance is in essence something of far tougher fibre than
conceit. It is the sense of ability and power run riot; the feeling that
the world is an oyster, and that in opening its rough edges there is no
need to care a jot for the interests or susceptibilities of others.

A young man who has surmounted his education, gone out into the world on
his own account, and made some progress in business, is the ready prey
of the bacillus of arrogance. He does not yet know enough of life to
realise the price he will have to pay in the future for the brusqueness
of his manner or the abruptness of his proceedings. He may even fancy
that it is only necessary to be as rude as Napoleon to acquire all the
gifts of the Emperor. This conception is altogether false, though it may
be pardoned to youth in the first rush of success.

The unfortunate point is that in everyday life the older men will not in
practice confer this pardon. They are annoyed by the presumption the
newcomer displays, and they visit their wrath on him, not only at the
time of the offence, but for years afterwards.

At the moment this attitude of criticism and hostility the masters of
the field show to the aspirant may not be without its advantages if it
teaches him that justice, moderation, and courtesy are qualities which
still possess merits even for the rising young man. If so, we may thank
Heaven even for our enemies.

The usual prophecy for curbing arrogant youth on these occasions is the
sure prediction that he will come a smash. As a matter of fact, it is
extraordinarily rare for a man who has conquered the initial
difficulties of success in money-making, if his work is honest, to come
to disaster. None the less, if the young man hears these "ancestral
voices prophesying war," and shivers a little in his bed at night, he
will be none the worse for the cold douche of doubt and enmity.

Indeed, so long as youth keeps its head it will be the better for the
successive hurdles which obstructive age, or even middle-age, puts in
its path. A few stumbles will teach it care in approaching the next

The only real cure for arrogance is a check--not an absolute failure.
For complete disaster is as likely to breed the arrogance of despair as
supreme triumph is to breed the arrogance of invincibility. A set-back
is the best cure for arrogance.

It would be a false assumption to suppose that temporary humiliations or
mistakes can rid one definitely and finally of the vice I am describing.
Arrogance seems too closely knit into the very fibre of early success.
The firsthand experience of youth is not sufficient to effect the
cure--and it may be that no years and no experience will purge the mind
of this natural tendency. When Pitt publicly announced at twenty-three
that he would never take anything less than Cabinet rank he was
undoubtedly arrogant. He became Premier at twenty-four. But age and
experience moderated his supreme haughtiness, leaving at the end a
residue of pure self-confidence which enabled him to bear up against
blow after blow in the effort to save the State.

Arrogance, tempered by experience and defeat, may thus produce in the
end the most effective type of character. But it seems a pity that youth
should suffer so much in the aftermath while it learns the necessary
lessons. But will youth listen to the advice of middle-age?

For every man youth tramples on in the arrogance of his successful
career a hundred enemies will spring up to dog with an implacable
dislike the middle of his life. A fault of manner, a deal pressed too
hard in equity, the abruptness by which the old gods are tumbled out to
make room for the new--all these are treasured up against the successful
newcomer. In the very heat of the strife men take no more reckon of
these things than of a flesh wound in the middle of a hand-to-hand
battle. It is the after recollection on the part of the vanquished that
breeds the sullen resentment rankling against the arrogance of the
conqueror. Years afterwards, when all these things seem to have passed
away, and the very recollection of them is dim in the mind of the young
man, he will suddenly be struck by an unlooked-for blow dealt from a
strange or even a friendly quarter. He will stagger, as though hit from
behind with a stone, and exclaim, "Why did this man hit me suddenly from
the dark?" Then searching back in the chamber of his mind he will
remember some long past act of arrogance--conceived of at the time
merely as an exertion of legitimate power and ability--and he will
realise that he is paying in maturity for the indiscretions of his

He may be engaged in some scheme for the benefit of a people or a nation
in which there is not the faintest trace of self-interest. He may even
be anxious to keep the peace with all men in the pursuit of his aim. But
he may yet be compelled to look with sorrow on the wreck of his idea
and pay the default for the antagonisms of his youth. It is not,
perhaps, in the nature of youth to be prudent. The game seems
everything; the penalties either nil or remote. But if prudence was ever
vital in the early years, it is in the avoidance of those unnecessary
enmities which arrogance brings in its train.

It might be supposed that middle-age was preaching to youth on a sin it
had outlived. That is not the case. Unfortunately, arrogance is not
confined to any period of life. But in early age it is a tendency at
once most easy to forgive and to cure. Carried into later years, with no
perception of the fault, it becomes incurable. Worse than that, it
usually turns its possessor into a mixture of bore and fool.

Wrapped up in the mantle of his own self-esteem, the sufferer fails to
catch the drift of sentiment round him, or to put himself in touch with
the opinions of others. His chair in any room is soon surrounded by
vacant seats or by patient sufferers. The vice has, in fact, turned
inwards, and corroded the mentality. Far better the enemies and the
mistakes of youth than this final assault on the fortress of inner calm
and happiness within the mind.

The arrogant man can neither be friends with others nor, what is worse
still, be friends with himself. The intense concentration on self which
the mental habit brings not only disturbs any rational judgment of the
values of the outer world, but poisons all sanity, calm, and happiness
at the very source of being. It is hard to shed arrogance. It is more
difficult to be humble. It is worth while to make the attempt.



Courage! It sounds an easy quality to possess, bringing with it the
dreams of V.C.s, and bestowing on every man worth the name the power to
endure physical danger. But courage in business is a more complex
affair. It presupposes a logical dilemma which can only be escaped in
the field of practice.

The man who has nothing but courage easily lets this quality turn into
mere stubbornness, and a crass obstinacy is as much a hindrance to
business success as a moral weakness. Yet to the man who does not
possess moral courage the most brilliant abilities may prove utterly
useless. There is the folly of resistance and the folly of complaisance.
There is the tendency towards eternal compromise and the desire for
futile battle. Until the mind of youth has adjusted itself between the
two extremes and formed a technique which is not so much independent of
either tendency as inclusive of both, youth cannot hope for great

The evils which pure stubbornness brings in its train are perfectly
clear. Men cling to a business indefinitely in the fond wish that a loss
may yet be turned into a profit. They hope on for a better day which
their intelligence tells them will never dawn. For this attitude of mind
stupidity is a better word than stubbornness, and a far better word than
courage. When reason and judgment bid us give up the immediate battle
and start afresh on some new line, it is intellectual cowardice, not
moral courage, which bids us persevere. This obstinacy is the reverse of
the shield of which courage is the shining emblem--for courage in its
very essence can never be divorced from judgment.

But it is easy for the character to run to the other extreme. There is a
well-known type of Jewish business man who never succeeds because he is
always too ready to compromise before the goal of a transaction has been
attained. To such a mind the certainty of half a loaf is always better
than the probability of a whole one. One merely mentions the type to
accentuate the paradox. Great affairs above all things require for their
successful conduct that class of mind which is eminently sensitive to
the drift of events, to the characters or changing views of friends and
opponents, to a careful avoidance of that rigidity of standpoint which
stamps the doctrinaire or the mule. The mind of success must be
receptive and plastic. It must know by the receptivity of its capacities
whether it is paddling against the tide or with it.

But it is perfectly clear that this quality in the man of affairs, which
is akin to the artistic temperament, may very easily degenerate into
mere pliability. Never fight, always negotiate for a remnant of the
profits, becomes the rule of life. At each stage in the career the
primroses will beckon more attractively towards the bonfire, and the
uphill path of contest look more stony and unattractive. In this process
the intellect may remain unimpaired, but the moral fibre degenerates.

I once had to make a choice of this nature in the days of my youth when
I was forming the Canada Cement Company. One of the concerns offered
for sale to the combine was valued at far too high a price. In fact, it
was obvious that only by selling it at this over-valuation could its
debts be paid. The president of this overvalued concern was connected
with the most powerful group of financiers that Canada has ever seen.
Their smile would mean fortune to a young man, and their frown ruin to
men of lesser position. The loss of including an unproductive concern at
an unfair price would have been little to me personally--but it would
have saddled the new amalgamated industry and the investors with a
liability instead of an asset. It was certainly far easier to be pliable
than to be firm. Every kind of private pressure was brought to bear on
me to accede to the purchase of the property.

When this failed, all the immense engines for the formation of public
opinion which were at the disposal of the opposing forces were directed
against me in the form of vulgar abuse. And that attack was very
cleverly directed. It made no mention of my refusal to buy a certain
mill for the combine at an excessive cost to the shareholding public. On
the contrary, those who had failed to induce me to break faith with the
investing public appealed to that public to condemn me for forming a

I am prepared now to confess that I was bitterly hurt and injured by the
injustice of these attacks. But I regret nothing. Why? Because these
early violent criticisms taught me to treat ferocious onslaughts in
later life with complete indifference. A certain kind of purely cynical
intelligence would hold that I should have been far wiser to adopt the
pliable rôle. But that innate judgment which dwells in the recesses of
the mind tells me that my whole capacity for action in affairs would
have been destroyed by the moral collapse of yielding to that threat.
Pliability would have become a habit rather than a matter of judgment
and will, for fortitude only comes by practice.

Every young man who enters business will at some time or another meet a
similar crisis which will determine the bias of his career and dictate
his habitual technique in negotiation.

But he may well exclaim, "How do you help me? You say that courage may
be stubbornness and even stupidity--and compromise a mere form of
cowardice or weakness. Where is the true courage which yet admits of
compromise to be found?"

It is the old question: How can firmness be combined with adaptability
to circumstances? There is no answer except that the two qualities
_must_ be made to run concurrently in the mind. One must be responsive
to the world, and yet sensible of one's own personality. It is only the
special circumstance of a grave crisis which will put a young man to
this crucial test of judgment. The case will have to be judged on its
merits, and yet the final decision will affect the whole of his career.
But one practical piece of advice can be given. Never bully, and never
talk about the whip-hand--it is a word not used in big business.

The view of the intellect often turns towards compromise when the
direction of the character is towards battle. Such a conflict of
tendencies is most likely to lead to the wise result. The fusion of
firmness with a careful weighing of the risks will best attain the real
decision which is known as courage. The intellectual judgment will be
balanced by the moral side. Any man who could attain this perfect
balance between these two parallel sides of his mind would have
attained, at a single stroke, all that is required to make him eminent
in any walk of life. One regards perfection, but cannot attain it. None
the less, it is out of this struggle to combine a sense of proportion
with an innate hardihood that true courage is born; and courage is



Panic is the fear which makes great masses of men rush into the abyss
without due reason. It is, in fact, a mass sentiment with which there is
no reasoning. Yet at one time or another in his career every man in
business will be confronted with a stampede of this character, and if he
does not understand how to deal with it, he will be trampled in the mud.

The purely stubborn man will be the first to go under. He will say, and
may be perfectly right in saying, that there is no real cause for
anxiety. He will prepare to run slap through the storm, and refuse to
reef a single financial sail. He forgets that the mere existence of
panic in the minds of others is in itself as hard a factor in the
situation as the real value of the properties on the market which are
being stampeded. The atmosphere of the business world is a reality even
when the views which produce it are wrong. To face a panic one must
first of all realise the intrinsic facts, and then allow for the
misreading of others. It is the plastic and ingenious mind which will
best grapple with these unusual circumstances. It will invent weapons
and expedients with which to face each new phase of the position.
"Whenever you meet an abnormal situation," said the sage, "deal with it
in an abnormal manner." That is sound advice. But a business panic is,
after all, a rare phenomenon--something a man need only have to face
once in a lifetime. It is the panic in the mind of the individual which
is the perpetual danger. How many men are there who let this perpetual
fear of financial disaster gnaw at their minds like a rat in the dark?
Those who only see the mask put on in the daytime would be astonished to
know the number of men who lay awake at night quaking with fear at some
imagined disaster, the day of which will probably never come. These are
the men who cannot keep a good heart--who lack that particular kind of
courage which prevents a man becoming the prey of his own nervous
imagination. They sell out good business enterprises at an absurdly low
price because they have not got the nerve to hold on. Those who buy them
secure the profits. One may pity the sellers, but cannot blame the
buyers. Those who have the courage of their judgment are bound to win.
These pessimists foresee all the possibilities, and just because they
foresee too much, it may be that they will spin out of the disorder of
their own minds a real failure which a little calmness and courage would
have avoided.

The moment a man is infected with this internal panic-fear, he ceases to
be able to exercise his judgment. He is convinced, let us say, that the
raw material of his industry is running short. He sees himself with
contracts on hand which he will not be able to complete. Very likely
there is not the remotest risk of any such shortage arising, but, in the
excess of his anxiety, he buys too heavily, and at too high a price. His
actions become impulsive rather than reasoned. It is true that in the
perfectly balanced temperament action will follow on judgment so quickly
that the two operations cannot be distinguished. Such decisions may
appear to be precipitate or impulsive, but they are not really so. But
the young man who has the disease of fear in his brain cells will act on
an impulse which is purely irrational, because it is based on a blind
terror and not on a reasoned experience.

When a man is in this state of mind, the best thing he can do is to
delay his final decisions until he has really thought matters out. If he
does this, the actual facts of the case may, on reflection, prove far
less serious than the impulsive and diseased mind has supposed.

But it must follow that a man who can only trust his judgment to operate
after a period of time must be in the second class, compared with the
formed judgment which can flash into sane action in a moment. He must
always be a day behind the fair--a quality fatal to real success.

How can the victim exorcise from his mind this dread of the
unknown--this partly conscious and partly subconscious form of fear,
"which eats the heart alway"? Nothing can throw off the grip which this
acute anxiety has fixed on the brain, except a resolute effort of will
and intelligence. I, myself, would give one simple recipe for the cure.
When you feel inclined to be anxious about the present, think of the
worst anxiety you ever had in the past. Instead of one grip on the mind,
there will be two distinct grips--and the greater grip of the past will
overpower the lesser one in the present. "Nothing," a man will say, "can
be as bad as that crisis of old, and yet I survived it successfully. If
I went through that and survived, how far less arduous and dangerous is
the situation to-day?" A man can thus reason and will himself into the
possession of a stout heart.

If a man can still the panic of his own heart, he will need to fear very
little all the storms which may rage against him from outside. "It is
the nature of tense spirits," says Lord Rosebery, "to be unduly elated
and unduly depressed." A man who can conquer these extremes and turn
them into common level of effort is the man who will be master in the
sphere of his own soul, and, therefore, capable of controlling the vast
currents which flow from outside. He may rise to that height of calmness
once exhibited by Lord Leverhulme, who, when threatened with panic in
his business, remarked, "Yes, of course, if the skies fall, all the
larks will be killed."

Panic, therefore, whether external or internal, is an experience which
tests at once the body, the mind, and the soul. The internal panic is an
evil which can only be cured by a resolute application of the will and
intellect to the subconscious self. The panic of a world suddenly
convulsed in its markets is like a thunderstorm, sweeping from the
mountains down the course of a river to where some town looks out on the
bay. It comes in a moment from the wild, and passes as swiftly into the
sea. It has the evanescence of a dream and yet all the force of reality.
It consists of air and rain, and yet the lighter substance, driven with
the force of a panic passion, can uproot the solid materials, as the
tornado the tall trees and the stone dwellings of humanity, and turn the
secular lives of men into desolation and despair. When it has passed,
all seems calm, and only the human wreckage remains to show the power of
the storm that has swept by.

To face these sudden blows which seem to come out of the void, men must
have their reserves of character and mentality well in hand. The first
reserve is that of intellect.

Never let mere pride or obstinacy stand in the way of bowing to the
storm. Firmness of character should on these terrible occasions be
turned inside out, and be formed into a plasticity of intellect which
finds at once its inspiration and its courage in the adoption of novel
expedients. The courage of the heart will let no expedient of the
ingenuity be left untried. But both ingenuity and courage will find
their real source in a health which has not yet exhausted the resources
of the body. Firmness which is not obstinacy, health which is not the
fad of the valetudinarian, adaptability which is not weakness,
enterprise which is not rashness--these are the qualities which will
preserve men in those evil days when the "blast of the terrible one is
against the wall."



Depression is not a word which sounds cheerfully in the ears of men of
affairs. But the actuality is not as bad as the term. It differs in
every respect from Panic. It is not a sudden and furious gust breaking
on a peaceful situation, irrational both in its onset and in its passing
away, but something which can be foreseen, and ought to be foreseen, by
any prudent voyager on the waters of business. The wise mariner will
furl his sails before the winds blow too strong.

Nor is depression in itself a disaster. It is merely the wholesome
corrective which Nature applies to the swollen periods of the world's
affairs. As with trade and commerce, so with the individual.

The high-spirited man pays for his hours of elation and optimism, when
every prospect seems to be open to him and the sunshine of life a thing
which will last for ever, by corresponding states of reaction and gloom,
when the whole universe seems to be involved in a conspiracy against his
welfare. The process is a salutary if not a pleasant one--and has been
applied remorsely ever since Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked.

So it is with the volume of the world's business. However well men may
try to balance the trend of affairs so as to produce a normal relation
between the output and the needs of humanity, the natural laws do not
cease to operate in a rhythmic alternation between the high prices which
stimulate production and the glut of goods which overtakes the demand of
the market and breaks the price.

But this change in the sequence from boom to depression is not an
unmixed evil. Prosperity spells extravagance in production. While the
good times endure, there is no sufficient incentive either to economy or
to invention. A concern which is selling goods at a high profit as fast
as it can make them will not trouble to manage its affairs on strict
economic lines. It is when the pinch begins to be felt that men will
investigate with relentless zeal their whole method of production, will
welcome every procedure which reduces cost, and seek for every new
invention which promises an economy. Depression is the purge of
business. The lean years abolish the adipose deposit of prosperity. The
athlete is once more trained down fine for the battle.

Men who realise these facts will not, therefore, grumble overmuch at bad
times. They will, at least, have had the sense to see that those times
were bound to come, and have refused to believe that they had entered
into a perpetual paradise of high prices. In this respect free will
makes the individual superior to the alternations of the market. He, at
least, is not compelled to be always either exalted or depressed. If he
cannot be the master of the market, he is, at least, master of his own

How, then, should men deal with the alternate cycles of flourishing and
declining trade? There is a celebrated dictum, "Sell on arising market,
buy on a falling one."

That man will be safest who will reject this time-worn theory, or will
only accept it with profound modifications. The advice I tender on this
subject is as applicable to Throgmorton Street as it is good for Mincing
Lane. The danger of the dictum is that it commits the believer to rowing
for ever against the tide.

Let us take the case of buying on a falling market. That a man should
abstain from all buying transactions while the market is falling is an
absurd proposition. But it is none the less true in the main that such a
course is a mistaken one. The machinery of his industry must, of course,
be kept in motion, or it will rust and cease to be able to move in
better times. But it is unwise to embark on new enterprises and
commitments when commerce, finance, and industry are all stagnant. And
very frequently buying on a falling market means just this.

It is like sowing in the depths of winter seeds which would mature just
as well if they were sown in March. No; it is when the tide has
definitely turned that new enterprises should be undertaken. The iron
frost is then broken, and the sower may go out to scatter in the
spring-time seeds which will bring in their harvest. To buy before the
turn is to incur the cost of carrying stocks for many unnecessary

The converse of the proposition is to sell on a rising market.
Certainly. Sell on a rising market, but do not stop selling because the
market ceases to rise. A great part of the art of business is the
selling capacity and the organisation of sales, but to carry out a
preordained system of selling on an abstract theory is mere folly. To
cease selling just because the market is not rising at a given moment,
and to wait for a better day--which may not dawn--is to burden a firm
unduly with the carrying of stocks and commodities.

There is a saying in Canada, "Go, while the going is good." The
phrase--an invitation to sell--finds its origin in the state of the
roads. When the winter is making, the roads are hard and smooth for
sleighing, and are kept so by the continual fresh falls of snow, and you
can speed swiftly over the firm surface. But when the winter is
breaking, the falls of snow cease, and the sleigh leaps with a crash and
a bump over great gullies, tossing the traveller from side to side and
dashing his head against the dashboard. These depressions are called
"thank you marms," because that is the ejaculation with which the victim
informs his companions that he has recovered his equanimity. The man who
will never sell on a falling market is the man who will not face the
"thank you marms." He will "go while the going is good," but he will not
accept the corollary to the dictum, "But don't stop because going is
bad." He has not the nerve to face the bump and come up smiling. Don't
be afraid to sell on a falling market, or you will be afraid to sell at
all until you are forced to sell at far lower prices because of the
weight of stocks or commitments which must be liquidated at any cost. It
is precisely in time of depression that the men of business ought to
press their selling and organise their sales organisation to the utmost
limit. If finance, commerce, and industry could only be persuaded to
take this course in the slack times, then every action in this direction
would cure the evil by lessening the duration of the bad times. Not
till the surplus stocks have been unloaded will the winter pass and the
summer come again in the enterprise of the world. Selling is the final
cure for depression.



The bitterest thing in life is failure, and the pity is that it is
almost always the result of some avoidable error or misconception. With
the rare exception of a man who is by nature a criminal or a waster,
there need be no such thing as failure. Every man has a career before
him, or, at worst, every man can find a niche in the social order into
which he can fit himself with success.

The trouble in so many cases is that it takes time and opportunity for a
man to discover in what direction his natural bent lies. He springs from
a certain stock or class, and the circumstances which surround him in
youth naturally dictate to him the choice of a career. In many cases it
will be a method of living to which he is totally unsuited. But once he
is embarked on it the clogs are about his feet, and it is hard to break
away and begin all over again. And this ill-fitting of men to jobs may
not even embrace so wide a divergence as that between one kind of
activity and business and another. A young man may be in the right
business for him, and yet in the wrong department of it. In any case,
the result is the same. The employer votes him no use, or at least just
passable, or second rate. Much worse, the employee knows himself that he
has failed to make good, and that at the best nothing but a career of
mediocrity stretches out before him. He admits a failure, and by that
very act of admission he has failed. The waters of despair close above
his head, and the consequence may be ruin.

Such mistakes spring from a wrong conception of the nature of the human
mind. We are too apt to believe in a kind of abstraction called "general
ability," which is expected to exhibit itself under any and every
condition. According to this doctrine, if a man is clever at one thing
or successful under one set of circumstances, he must be equally clever
at everything and equally successful under all conditions. Such a view
is manifestly untrue.

The mind of man is shut off into separate compartments, often capable of
acting quite independently of each other. No one would dream of
measuring the capacity of the individual for domestic affection by that
of his power for oratory, or his spirituality by his business instinct.
And what is true of the larger distinctions of the soul is also true of
that particular part of the mind which is devoted to practical success.
Specialised aptitude for one particular branch of activity is the
exception rather than the rule. The contrary opinion may, indeed, easily
lead to grave error in the judgment of men, and therefore in the
management of affairs. There is no art in which either the barrister,
the politician, or, for that matter, the journalist excels so much as in
the rapid grasp of a logical position, the power of assimilating great
masses of material against it or for it, and of putting out the results
of this research again in a lucid and convincing form. Anyone listening
to such an exposition would be tempted to believe that here was a man of
such high general ability that he would be perfectly capable of handling
in practice, and with superb ability, the affairs he has been
explaining. And yet such a judgment would be wrong. The expositor would
be a failure as an active agent. It would not be difficult to find the
exact converse to the case. The greatest of all the editors of big
London newspapers will fail entirely to appreciate a careful and logical
statement of a situation when it is subjected to him. But place before
him the raw material and the implements of his own profession, and his
infallible instinct for news will enable him to produce a newspaper far
transcending that which his more logical critic could have achieved.

Leaving aside a few strange exceptions, a musician is not a soldier, a
barrister not a stockbroker, a poet not a man of business, or a
politician a great organiser. Anyone who had strayed in youth to the
wrong profession and failed might yet prove himself an immense success
in another, and these broad distinctions at the top ramify downwards
until the general truth is equally applicable to all the subdivisions of
business and even to all the administrative sections of particular

To take a single practical instance, there is the department of
salesmanship and the department of finance. Salesmanship requires, above
all, the spirit of optimism. That same spirit carried into the sphere of
finance might ruin a firm. The success in one branch might therefore
well be the failure in the other, and vice versa. No young man,
therefore, has failed until he has succeeded.

If I had to choose one single and celebrated instance of this doctrine I
should find it in the career of Lord Reading, Viceroy of India.

It may be objected that, as he is of the Jewish race and religion, his
is not a fair test case by which to try the abilities and aptitudes of
the young men of Great Britain. I do not accept the distinction. The
powers and mental aptitudes of the Jews are exactly the same as ours,
except that they come to full flower earlier. The precocity of this
maturity is interpreted as a special genius for affairs--which it is

Lord Reading started his career on the Stock Exchange, where he failed
utterly. No doubt experience would have brought him a reasonable measure
of success; but it was equally clear that this was not the sphere for
his preeminent abilities. He therefore broke boldly away and entered at
the Bar, where his intellect secured him a reputation and an income,
especially in commercial cases, which left his competitors divided
between admiration and annoyance. In a single year he made £40,000. The
peg had found the round hole. His eminence procured him the
Attorney-Generalship. Yet with all his ability and his personal
popularity he was not a real success in the House of Commons.
Parliamentary warfare was not his aptitude. So he became Lord Chief
Justice. His great personal character and reputation gave Lord Reading
in his new position a certain reputation as a great Lord Chief. From my
own limited experience I do not agree. I had to watch closely a certain
case he was trying, and I did not think Lord Reading was a great judge.
He failed to carry the jury with him; the final Court of Appeal ordered
a new trial, which resulted in the reversal of the judgment. Such a
thing might happen to any judge, but a strong one would have put a
prompt end to proceedings which were obviously vexatious and entailed
great cost by the delay on defendants, who had obviously been dragged
improperly into the action. But his real opportunity came with his
mission to the United States during the war. No ambassador had ever
achieved such popularity and influence or brought back such rich sheaves
with him. As a diplomatist, a man of law, and a man of business, he
shone supreme. Once more, since his days at the commercial bar, he had
found the real field for his talents.

From the Law Courts he has journeyed to a position of great
responsibility in India. Some voices are already acclaiming the success
of the new Viceroy. It will be wiser to wait until it is clear whether
his versatile genius will find successful play in its new environment.

But the moral of Lord Reading's career is plain. Do not despair over
initial failure. Seek a new opening more suited to your talents. Fight
on in the certain hope that a career waits for every man.



Nothing is so bad as consistency. There exists no more terrible person
than the man who remarks: "Well, you may say what you like, but at any
rate I have been consistent." This argument is generally advanced as the
palliation for some notorious failure. And this is natural For the man
who is consistent must be out of touch with reality. There is no
consistency in the course of events, in history, in the weather, or in
the mental attitude of one's fellow-men. The consistent man means that
he intends to apply a single foot-rule to all the chances and changes of
the universe.

This mental standpoint must of necessity be founded on error. To adopt
it is to sacrifice judgment, to cast away experience, and to treat
knowledge as of no account. The man who prides himself on his
consistency means that facts are nothing compared to his superior sense
of intellectual virtue. But to attack consistency is quite a different
thing from elevating inconsistency to the rank of an ideal. The man who
was proud of being inconsistent, not from necessity but from choice,
would be as much of a fool as his opposite. Life, in a word, can never
be lived by a theory.

The politicians are the most prominent victims of the doctrine of
consistency. They practice an art which, above all others, depends for
success on opportunism--on dealing adequately with the chances and
changes of circumstances and personalities. And yet the politician more
than anyone else has to consider how far he dare do the right thing
to-day in view of what he said yesterday. The policy of a great nation
is often diverted into wrong channels by the memories of old speeches,
and statesmen fear men who mole in Hansard.

Again, I do not recommend inconsistency as a good thing in itself. If a
politician believes in some great general economic policy such as Free
Trade or Protection, he will only be justified in changing his mind
under the irresistible pressure of a change of circumstance. He will be
slow, and rightly, to change his standpoint until the evidence carries
absolute conviction.

In business consistency of mental attitude is a terrible vice, for a
simple and obvious reason. By an inevitable process like the swaying of
the solstice the business world alternates between periods of boom and
periods of depression. The wheel is always revolving, fast or slow,
round the full cycle of over-or under-production. It is clear that a
policy which is right in one stage of the process must necessarily be
wrong in the other. What would happen to a man who said, "I am
consistent. I always buy," or to one who replied, "No man can charge me
with lack of principle. I invariably sell"? Their stories would soon be
written in the _Gazette_.

This is the most obvious instance of the perils of consistency in the
world of business. But, quite apart from this, nothing but fluidity of
judgment can ever lead the man of affairs to success.

I once took the chairmanship of a bank which had passed into a state of
torpor threatening final decay. There was not a living fibre in it, and
my task was to try to galvanise the corpse. I sought here and there and
in every direction for an opening, like a boxer feeling for a weak point
in his opponent's guard. My fellow directors, who had served on the
board for many years, were shrewd business men, but if the bank had not
lost the capacity for either accepting or creating new situations it
would not have been in a state of decay. The board met once a week, and
the directors gathered together before the meeting at the
luncheon-table. "What surprise proposal are you going to spring on us
to-day?" they used to ask me. And the mere fact that the proposal was of
the nature of a surprise was almost invariably the only criticism
against it. I may have been wrong in surprising my colleagues by the
various projects that I put forward, but in the propositions themselves
I proved right.

The criticism was really based on the doctrine of consistency fatal to
all business enterprise.

Suppose an amalgamation was contemplated one day I would be a buyer of
another bank, and if by next week this plan had fallen through I would
be strongly in favour of selling to a bigger bank. "But you are
inconsistent," said my colleagues. My answer is that what the business
needed was life and movement at all costs, and that buying or selling,
consistency or inconsistency were neither here nor there.

The prominent capitalist is often open to this particular charge. On
Wednesday, says the adversary, he was all for this great scheme; on
Friday he has forgotten all about it and has another one. This is
perfectly true--but then between Wednesday and Friday the weather has
changed completely. Is the barometer fickle or inconsistent because it
registers an alteration of weather?

Nevertheless, the men of affairs who follow facts to success rather than
consistency to failure must expect to pay the penalty. Or at least, if
they are to avoid the punishment for being right they must take enormous

The principle penalty is the prompt criticism that although the
successful business man plays the game with vigour, nerve, and sinew,
yet he plays it according to his own rules. The truth is that there is
no other way in which to play the game. Fluidity of judgment, adversely
described as fickleness and inconsistency, is the essence of success.

But the criticism is damaging. There are only two ways of combating it,
the wrong one and the right one. The wrong method is that of
hypocrisy--claiming a consistency which does not exist. The right one is
to cultivate the art of pleasing, so that inconsistency may be forgiven.
Friends may thus be retained though business policies vary. This is the
highest art of financial diplomacy.

Those who by some misfortune of character or upbringing are incapable of
this practice must make up their minds to face the abuse which their
successful practice of inconsistency will entail. They will not, if they
are wise, cultivate hypocrisy, not because the practice will damage them
in the esteem of their colleagues and neighbours, for, on the contrary,
it will enhance their repute, but because it will damage their own
self-respect. They would know that they were right in following fact and
fortune, and yet would be making a public admission that they were



The most common, and, perhaps, the most serious of vices is prejudice.
It is a thing imbibed with one's mother's milk, fortified by all one's
youthful surroundings, and only broken through, if at all, by experience
of the world and a deliberate mental effort.

Prejudice is, indeed, a vice in the most serious sense of the term. It
is more damaging and corroding in its effects than most of the evil
habits which are usually described by that term. It is destructive of
judgment and devastating in its effect on the mentality because it is a
symptom of a narrowness of outlook on the world. The man who can learn
to outlive prejudice has broken through an iron ring which binds the
mind. And yet we all come into the world of affairs in early youth with
that ring surrounding our temples. We have subconscious prejudices even
where we have no conscious ones. Family, tradition, early instruction
and upbringing fasten on every man preconceptions which are hard to

I write out of my own experience. I was brought up as the son of a
minister of the Church of Scotland, who left Edinburgh University as a
young man to take up a ministry in Canada. The Presbyterian faith was,
therefore, the one in which I was brought up in my boyhood, and I still
feel in my inner being a prejudice, which I cannot defend in reason,
against those doctrines which traverse the Westminster Confession of
Faith. However much thought and experience have modified my views on
religious questions, my tendency is to become the Church of Scotland
militant if any other denomination challenges its views or organisation.

Such are the prepossessions which surround youth. They are formidable,
whether they take the shape of religion or politics or class--and a
fixed form of religious belief is probably the most operative of them
all. It is quite possible that but for subconscious training of the
mind inbred through the generations neither man nor society would have
been able to survive. None the less, now that man has attained the stage
of social reason, prejudice is rather a weakness than a strength.

The greatest prejudice in social life is that against persons--not
against people known to one, for in that case it is dislike or
indifference or even hatred, but against some individual not even known
by sight.

A mentions B to C. "Oh!" says C. "I loathe that man." "But have you ever
met him?" says A. "No, and I don't want to, but I know quite enough
about him."

"But what do you know against him?"

"Well, I know that E told D, who told me, that he was black through and
through, and a bad man."

A few weeks afterwards C sits next B at dinner; finds him an excellent
sort of man to talk to and to do business with, and henceforward goes
about chanting his praises. Thus is personal prejudice disproved by the
actual fact. It is a curious freak of circumstance, not easily
accounted for, that men who possess that fascination of personality
which makes them firm friends and violent enemies are most liable to be
adversely judged out of that lack of knowledge which is called

There is another form of the error which is found in the business world.
Men of affairs conceive quite irrational dislikes for certain types of
securities or transactions. They are given, perhaps, an excellent offer,
out of which they might make a considerable profit. They turn the matter
down without further consideration. Their ostensible reason is that they
are not accustomed to deal in that particular class of security. Their
real reason for refusing is that they are the victims of their own
environment, and that they have not the intellectual courage or force to
break away from it even when every argument proves that it would be to
their advantage to do so. Their intellects have become musclebound by
habit or tradition.

The fourth and, perhaps, the most violent form of prejudice, outside the
sphere of religion, may be found in politics. Men embrace certain
political conceptions, and, though the whole world breaks into ruins,
and is reconstructed around them, nothing will alter their original
ideas. The Radical says that the Tory does not change his spots, and the
Tory is convinced that a Radical is still a direct emanation of the evil
one. In the middle of these conflicting antagonisms the real road to
national peace, prosperity, and security is missed by those who prefer
prejudice to the lessons which reality teaches. The most infamous case
of all to the unbending partisan is that of a man who has so far
outlived the prejudices of party as to be able to criticise one side
without joining another.

The advantage of prejudice is the preservation of tradition; its
disadvantage is the inability which it brings to an individual or to a
nation to adapt life to the change of circumstance. It is, therefore, at
once both the vice of youth and of age. Youth is prejudiced by
upbringing; age is prejudiced because it cannot adapt itself to the
circumstances of a changing world. But both youth and age can fight by
the power of the human will against the tendencies which steep them in
their own prepossessions.

Youth can say: "I will forget that I was brought up to be a Scotsman
and a Presbyterian, and so prejudiced against all Roman Catholics or
Jews; the world is open to me, I will form my own convictions and judge
men and religion on their merits." The subconscious self will still
operate, but its extravagances will be checked by reason and will.

Age can say to itself: "It is true that all that has happened in the
past is part of my experience, and therefore of me. I have formed
certain conclusions from what I have observed, but the data on which I
have formed them are constantly changing. The moment that I cease to be
able to accept and pass into my own experience new factors which my past
would reject as unpleasant or untrue I have become stereotyped in
prejudice and the truth of actuality is no longer in me, and when touch
with the world is lost the only alternative is retirement or disaster."

The more quickly youth breaks away from the prejudices of its
surroundings, the more rapid will be its success. The harder that age
fights against prepossessions, born of the past, which gather round to
obstruct the free operation of its mind, the longer will be the period
of a happy, successful, and active life.

Prejudice is a mixture of pride and egotism, and no prejudiced man,
therefore, will be happy.



The last two essays have dealt with the more depressing sides of
practical life--the sudden tempest which sweeps down on the business
man, or the long period of depression which is the necessary prelude to
the times in which optimism is justified. But it is on the note of
optimism, and not of pessimism, that I would conclude, and after the
storm comes the calm. What is calm to the man of experience in affairs?
It is the end to which turbulent and ambitious youth should devote
itself in order that it may attain to happiness in that period of
middle-age which still gives to assured success its real flavour. Youth
is the time of hope; old age is the time for looking back on the
pleasures and achievements of the past--when success or failure may seem
matters of comparative unimportance. Successful middle-age stands
between the two. Its calm is not the result either of senility or
failure. It represents that solid success which enables a man to
adventure into fresh spheres without any perturbation. New fields call
to him--Art, or Letters, or Public Service. Success is already his, and
it will be his own fault if he does not achieve happiness as well.

Successful middle-age appears to me to be the ideal of practical men. I
have tried to indicate the method by which it can be attained by any
young man who is sufficiently resolute in his purpose. Finance,
Commerce, and Industry are, under modern conditions, spheres open to the
talent of any individual. The lack of education in the formal sense is
no bar to advancement. Every young man has his chance. But will he
practise industry, economy, and moderation, avoid arrogance and panic,
and know how to face depression with a stout heart? Even if he is a
genius, will he know how not to soar with duly restrained wings?

The secret of power is the method by which the fire of youth is
translated into the knowledge of experience. In these essays I have
suggested a short cut to that knowledge. I once had youth, and now I
have experience, and I believe that youth can do anything if its desire
for success is sufficiently strong to curb all other desires. I also
believe that a few words of experience can teach youth how to avoid the
pitfalls of finance which wait for the most audacious spirits. I write
out of the conviction of my own experience.

But, above all, stands the attainment of happiness as the final form of
struggle. Happiness can only be attained as the result of a prolonged
effort. It is the result of material surroundings and yet a state of the
inner mind. It is, therefore, in some form or another at once the
consequence of achievement and a sense of calm. The flavour is
achievement, but the fruit should be the assured sense of happiness.

              "One or another
    In money or guns may surpass his brother.
    But whoever shall know,
    As the long days go.
    That to live is happy, has found his heaven."

It is in ignoring this doctrine of the poet that so many men go wrong.
They practise the doctrines of success: they attain it, and then they
lose happiness because they cannot stop. The flower is brilliant, but
the fruit has a sour taste. The final crown in the career of success is
to know when to retire.

"Call no man happy," says the ancient sage, "until he is dead," drawing
his moral from the cruel death of a great King. I would say, call no man
successful until he has left business with enough money to live the kind
of life that pleases him. The man who holds on beyond this limit is
laying up trouble for himself and disappointment for others.

Success in the financial world is the prerogative of young men. A man
who has not succeeded in the field before middle-age comes upon him,
will never succeed in the fundamental sense of the term. An honourable
and prosperous career may, indeed, lie before him, but he will never
reach the heights. He will just go on from year to year, making rather
more or rather less money, by a toil to which only death or old age will
put a term. And I have not written this book for the middle-aged, but
for the young. To them my advice would be, "Succeed young, and retire
as young as you can."

The fate of the successful who hold on long after they have amassed a
great, or at least an adequate, fortune, is written broad across the
face of financial history. The young man who has arrived has formed the
habit and acquired the technique of business. The habit has become part
of his being. How hard it is to give it up! His technique has become
almost universally successful. If he has made £50,000 by it, why not go
on and make half a million; if he has made a million, why not go on and
make three? All that you have to do, says the subtle tempter, is to
reproduce the process of success indefinitely. The riches and the powers
of the world are to be had in increasing abundance by the mere exercise
of qualities which, though they have been painfully acquired, have now
become the very habit of pleasure. How dull life would seem if the
process of making money was abandoned; how impossible for a man of ripe
experience to fail where the mere stripling had succeeded? The
temptation is subtle, but the logic is wrong. Success is not a process
which can reproduce itself indefinitely in the same field. The dominant
mind loses its elasticity: it fails to appreciate real values under
changed conditions. Victory has become to it not so much a struggle as a
habit. Then follows the decline. The judgment begins to waver or go
astray out of a kind of self-worship, which makes the satisfaction of
self, and not the realisation of what is possible, the dominant object
in every transaction. There will be plenty of money to back this
delusion for a time, and plenty of flatterers and sycophants to play up
to and encourage the delusion. The history of Napoleon has not been
written in vain. Here we see a first-class intellect going through this
process of mental corruption, which leads from overwhelming success in
early youth, to absolute disaster in middle-age. The only hope for the
Napoleon of Finance is to retire before his delusions overtake him.

But what is the man who retires early from business to do? Some form of
activity must fill the void. The answer to the question is to be found
in a change of occupation. To some, recreation, and the pursuit of some
art or science or study may bring satisfaction, but these will be the
exceptions. Some kind of public service will beckon to the majority. And
it is natural that this should be the case. Politics, journalism, the
management of Commissions or charitable organisations, all require much
the same kind of aptitudes and draw on the same kind of experiences
which are acquired by the successful man of affairs. The difference is
that they are not so arduous, because they are rarely a matter of life
and death to any man--and certainly can never be so to a man with an
assured income.

On the other hand, from the point of view of society, it is a great
advantage to a nation that it should have at its disposal the services
of men of this kind of capacity and experience. What public life needs
above all things is the presence in it of men who have a knowledge of
reality. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the landowning
classes supplied this kind of direction to the State as the fruit of
their leisure, and, despite some narrowness and selfishness, they
undoubtedly did their work well. But they were disappearing as a class
before the war, and the war has practically destroyed them. Nor are the
world-wide industrial, commercial, and economic problems of the
twentieth century particularly suitable to their form of intellect. The
policy of Great Britain of to-day ought to be founded on a knowledge
both of markets and production. It is here that the retired man of
affairs can help. Simply to go on making money after all personal need
for it has passed is, therefore, a form of selfishness, and, in
consequence, will not bring happiness, and in the ultimate calculation
that life can hardly be called successful which is not happy.

My final message is one of hope to youth. Dare all, yet keep a sense of
proportion. Deny yourself all, and yet do not be a prig. Hope all,
without arrogance, and you will achieve all without losing the capacity
for moderation. Then the Temple of Success will assuredly be open to
you, and you will pass from it into the inner shrine of happiness.

_Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury._

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