I have known young business men in the country who have not been specially successful who got tremendous impetus to their ambition by visiting larger city concerns in the same line of business. The greater successes touched their pride and they went back home and began to brace up and build up.
The same thing is true in professional life. The young country doctor visits a city hospital, attends clinics, sees operations by noted surgeons, and he goes home with his ambition fired and makes a vigorous resolution to try harder to be somebody in his own profession.
Men who are in business in small towns where they have no competition, and where they very seldom come in contact with those who are successful in their line of trade, are in constant danger of getting into a rut. Their ambition unconsciously becomes dulled, the energy oozes out of their efforts, and they take things easier, jog along in the same old manner year after year, and before they realize it dry rot gets into their business.
It is much easier to keep up one’s interest and enthusiasm to do things worth while when we are right in touch with the ambitious, with those who are forging ahead with all their might, and who are perhaps working under great difficulties.
One of the unfortunate things about small towns and country places is the lack of stimulus to ambition. Many people living in remote country districts do not come in contact with standards by which they can measure and compare their own powers. They live a quiet uneventful life, and there is little in their environment to arouse the faculties which are not active in their vocation.
If you are ambitious to get on you will learn some splendid lessons from studying the qualities of those who have succeeded along the line of your ambition. You will find that it is a characteristic of the winner, that he is always thinking upon his life theme, is always headed towards the goal of his ambition, always planning along the line of his dreams. He talks the things, acts in the same direction, his whole life is absorbed in his theme. He radiates law, medicine, engineering, or manufacturing. By keeping his mind in a positive, creative condition he is constantly encouraging his mental magnet to attract the thing he is studying. If he is studying law he thinks law, pictures himself pleading at court, or giving advice in his office. He becomes a law magnet to attract law.
I know a man who says he will not take chances of the demoralization and the deterioration which would be worked in his nature by associating with habitual failures. He will have nothing to do with such people. He avoids doing business with them, for he says he finds that no matter how he may protest against it, he is unconsciously influenced by them.
There is no denying that there is much truth in this. We are unconsciously affected by the atmosphere surrounding us. Like attracts like. Successful people attract successful people. Failure attracts failure. Unlucky people attract unlucky people. Slovenly, slipshod people attract others of the same sort. “Birds of a feather flock together.” The failures get together; the successes come together naturally.
On every hand we see young men who started out with brilliant prospects when they left college. Their friends predicted great things for them, but somehow or other, the enthusiasm of their school or college days soon oozed out. The continual suggestion of possibility which came to them from their school environment, the contagion from the ambitious spirit all about them, seemed then to multiply their prospects, to magnify their ability and to stir up their ambition until they really thought they were going to amount to something in the world, were going to accomplish something; but after they got away from the battery-charging institutions, they gradually lost their enthusiasm; their ambition dwindled. Their ideals changed with their environment. Little by little their dreams faded, and they resigned themselves to mediocrity or hopeless failure.
There is no environment so unfavorable, so discouraging, no situation so disheartening that a youth who is made of the right kind of material cannot change it. Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Fred Douglas, John Wanamaker, Marshall Field and thousands of other American boys found themselves in the midst of the most disheartening environment but made a new environment for themselves. It is possible for you to do the same.
The great trouble with most of us is that we never get aroused, never discover ourselves until late in life,–often too late to make much out of the remnant that is left. It is very important that we become aroused to our possibilities when young, thus we may overcome the most unfavorable environment and get the greatest possible efficiency out of our lives.