Thursday, June 16, 2011

Life Lessons from Howard Pyle

From “The Divinity of Labor,” a commencement address delivered by Howard Pyle to the graduates of Delaware College on June 16, 1897:
When you have chosen your profession and have entered fairly into the work of your life, that which is first necessary to achieve success is application.

By application is not meant mere dumb and stubborn laboriousness of duty; by application is meant the perfect conjunction or application of your mind to the subject in hand. If you are a farmer, do not pause at the end of the furrough to speculate upon the destiny of mankind; if you are a student, do not, whilst your eyes are marching across the page, allow your brain to occupy itself with other things; if you are an experimenter or an inventor, do not pause in the midst of your labors to formulate some new experiment or some other invention aside from that upon which you are at work; if you are an author, or an artist, do not permit your mind to ramble through the shady depths and the breezy stretches whilst your canvas or your paper lies empty before you. Bend every faculty of your mind on the work which lies beneath your hand. Concentration is a habit - it is not a gift, and I do assure you as a man who has known many men and who has observed many men at their work - I do assure you that just in the degree that a man concentrates his mind upon the work that lies immediately before him, in exactly that degree does he achieve success in the labor of his life.

As necessary, however, as is the concentration of the mind, it is not more necessary to success than it is to develop the opportunities that lie immediately at hand.

There are few temptations greater than the temptation that possesses a man to gaze into some impossible to-morrow, beholding in it an opportunity that does not exist to-day.

The opportunities that lie immediately at hand appear to be very small and very petty; and those that are remote appear to be very great and very pregnant of possibilities. Alas! how many men are there who, gazing into that seductive future, stumble over the things of the present and so fall prostrate in the dust!

He who succeeds, is he who seizes the opportunity that lies within his grasp and developes that opportunity to its uttermost. No one can ever achieve a great success unless he performs well the small things of life. To achieve success, everything, however insignificant, should be done to the fulness of your powers.

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