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Sudden Setbacks

From The American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, April, 1942

Sudden Setbacks

(Meeting Them Hinges on Frame of Mind Formulated in Advance)

What is success?

Easy enough to answer that, you may say. In a nutshell, to pull off what you want. The Limey Lugger wants to beat the Oklahoma Hammerer - or whoever the latest victim may be. He does it, and there you are. Or Shakespeare wants to write plays. He writes some of the best ever, and that's his satisfaction. You want to run a store or manage for the boss; may you achieve it, whatever it is! I want to please you with these articles, and more, to make you feel that here is a man of commonsense with something to say and able to say it in a way that gets a fruitful idea over.

But of all things, I count success to be finding out about yourself.

Administer the K. O. to every pugilist near your weight in creation, pile up the shekels so that they have to get a shovel to dig you out from underneath - and you have failed if at the end you don't know absolutely what you are.

Self knowledge. To reach that any and every experience is worth while.

Here's a concrete case. It happened last week. A business man I had admired for working his way through, met a sudden setback. To my astonishment, it cracked him. I had imagined this type of man could stand up to such a blow easily. But he went to pieces. I not only felt sorry for him. I had a kind of shame on his behalf that he had not been able to take this lesson along with his other lessons. The reason simply was that he did not know himself on that side. He had not prepared himself for just this sort of contingency and visualized in advance how he would surely react to it. It was like a little child weeping when for the first time he got cold feet in the snow. 

Of course we don't know how precisely we would act in, say, an earthquake. But we can know in advance what attitude of mind we need to have tovvards it. We ought to be able to tell - if we come through - what is best to be done to recover from the disaster. .

We ought not to be caught out and left walloped.

It was equivalent to an earthquake, in his world, which got this man down so sensationally.

I am not judging, only trying to clear up the point about success saying that although he had reached the top he was, unhappy, intrinsically a failure. He had not explored all that he was. There were forces in him, responding to this trouble, that came out of his depths, took him by surprise, rose up against him and ended him. Had he been able to live it down then, at least, he would have been nearer to being his complete personality. Only part of him had got through, for there was at least one experience to which he was liable at any moment that could floor him.

Perfect realization of self I count success.

A man must be able to say it with conviction about himself; it is no criterion whatever what the world thinks. We may look magnificently sufficient from outside, but what is the stage of completion within?

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