1915: Never Trust To Luck

This is an unsigned piece in a 1915 issue of The Square Deal:

Never Trust to Luck

He was a wise man who said in life as in all nature there are no rewards and no punishments, but only consequences. The law of cause and effect is operating everywhere and as surely in matters of apparent chance as in those of unmistakable certainty.

Luck is the fiction which the failures invented to explain the success of others. It has about as much to do with success as the color of a farmer’s hair has to do with the size of his hay crop.

Luck is a term used by men to cover up their ignorance of all the attendant circumstances.

Men are the sport of circumstances when the circumstances seem the sport of men, said the poet Byron, but that is a purely fanciful interpretation of human events.

The man who thinks he knows all the circumstances and can calculate them is a gambler who doesn’t know that he is gambling. If he is right in his inferences it is by accident. Such accidents are spoken of as luck, but no man ever built up a successful career on a chapter of accidents.

There is no failure more pitiful and few more certain than that of the man who trusts to his luck.

Death sometimes cuts off the gambler while his winnings are still piled high on the table. In some respects it is the most fortunate thing that could happen to him. It has spared him the fate of the gambler who awakens from his fool’s paradise to find that the people he thought his friends were merely parasites or fellow victims of the same silly delusion.

They think they are fooling life, but they are only fooling themselves and never so much as when they are winning.

Success is not to be measured by days, or weeks, or months, or even years of financial prosperity. If it cannot be the verdict at the close of a man’s life it was not a true verdict at any particular period.

Success is in the man, not in this or that deed well done. He may close his career lacking many of the things usually looked upon as the hall marks of success, but if he has that within which marks the true man he has more than all the wealth of all the millionaires.

Money is not success! neither is it failure, as some fanatics suppose, when they make the sweeping assumption that all big fortunes are bought by sacrifices of character.

You can build up character while building up a fortune as well as you can while building up a literary, artistic, or any other commendable reputation.

It is no more a crime to be rich than it is to be poor. Everything depends upon the manner in which you became either.

Envy of the rich is the confession of failure when it is not the fraud of the professional muckraker thriving on the ignorance of his dupes.

The honest material success is entitled to praise as warm as the censure meted out to the failure which has no better excuse than idleness or intemperance.

Don’t be fooled by thinking of success as a prize dropped out of nature’s lucky bag. Get the habit and the truth of thinking of it as a consequence.

Every American boy can not become President, but if every American boy carried that definite ambition into manhood we would be a nation of lunatics.

Hitch your wagon to a star is all very well, but meanwhile see that it is securely hitched to your horse or mule.

We can not always see the end of the road, but it will be more fatal to us if we don’t see that bog or chughole a few yards ahead.

Let each have the biggest ambition within the bounds of probability, but the man regretting that he did not reach the moon is just as foolish as the child who thinks his nurse can get it for him.

You can have far more in this world than most of us think, but you must pay the price.

Before you set out to want a thing, stop and make absolutely certain that you want it so badly that you will be prepared to make any and every sacrifice in order to get it.

More than half the time men fail not for the lack of ability, but because they only thought that they thought they really wanted the coveted object.

Success is three-fourths character, for the most endowed men so far as mental ability is concerned, will fail if their character is not even greater than their capacity.

“See thou character,” said Shakespeare, who might have added, “and if that is seen to success will take care of itself.”

Certain it is that all other philosophy is written to flatter and to please the failures.

These are the original source pages:

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