Mental Alertness

1. Interest 2. Ambition

SUCCESS involves interest in what one is doing. If you are not interested in your work, find out the reason at once. If it is not your kind of work, change as soon as possible. If it is your kind, then “snap into it” mentally. Interest means pleasure, keenness, alertness. It begets knowledge of one’s goods, one’s profession. It incites to observation. It leads to curiosity regarding the way others do the same work, to a desire to better methods, and excel in one’s chosen field. Those who are mentally wide awake always have the advantage when it comes to advancement, because they have greater knowledge not only of their own department but of the business as a whole.

Walter C. Allen, President of the Yale and Towne Lock Company, who rose from truck boy to the head of a ten million dollar concern, once said in an interview:

“Too many of our young men have a fixed idea that opportunity must be thrust upon them, and at the same time do nothing to prepare themselves for grasping it when it comes. In spite of the fact that our company has refused to go outside for its officials and has promoted men from the ranks, we have had case after

case where we actually tried to thrust promotion upon men who were apparently ambitious, but who had left themselves unprepared. Before the chance came, they complained because it was not handed to them on a silver tray, and when it did come they were unable to grasp it.”

It can be seen from this how necessary it is to keep the interest in one’s work alive. Those who have had no technical education can overcome their handicap in this way. The technique of most lines of business can be acquired by experience. Ofttimes the college graduate’s advantage is merely in his trained powers of observation and thinking. Said Professor James in his famous chapter on Habit,12 “Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever the line of it may be. If he keep faithfully busy each hour of the working day, he may safely leave the result to itself. He can with perfect certainty count on waking up some fine morning to find himself one of the competent ones of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out. Silently, between all the details of his business, the power of judging in all that class of matter will have built itself up within him as a possession that will never pass away. Young people


12 “Psychology, Briefer Course,” p. 150. By William James

should know this in advance. The ignorance of it has probably engendered more discouragement and faint- heartedness in youths embarking on arduous careers than all other causes put together.”

Professor James is here seeking to remove the sense of strain with which so many face the problem of success. He is saying to us that the arts and thoughts of everyday experience in any field of effort will of themselves gradually build up our skill and knowledge and create the ability to take leadership in our particular field. But it must be borne in mind that we must not only act, we must think. Mental alertness is necessary.

Along with interest, I place ambition. I do not see how anyone can hope to succeed unless he is ambitious. He must have the forward look. His work today must have reference to tomorrow. Tomorrow and today must be one with him. His mind keeps on running after the clock has struck. It is twisting and turning around his work to find new ways, new solutions, new outlets. He is stimulated both by interest in the work itself and by his desire to succeed in that work.

Unhappy is he who has no ambition. To stultify ambition is to kill half the driving force of personality. The joy of the forward look! The pleasure of dreams! The thrill of anticipation! The more it means to you, the

more meaning there is to life. True ambition robs no one, inspires the emulation of others, and opens the door to success.


I possess the spirit of success. I am filled with interest and love for my work. I am mentally wide-awake. I have the vision to see new possibilities and new solutions, I observe carefully and remember perfectly. I am going ahead with confidence and courage, with purpose and determination.

The passion of attainment is upon me and I will succeed. I am success.

Fenwicke Lindsay Holmes

Fenwicke Lindsay Holmes

Fenwicke Lindsay Holmes was an American author, former Congregational minister, and Religious Science leader.

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