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In Kipling's book, The Light that Failed, two artists are talking and this conversation takes place:
Maisie: Why am I wrong in trying to get a little success?
Dick: Just because you try. Good work has nothing to do with it, doesn't belong to the person who does it. It's put into him or her from outside.... The instant we begin to think about success and the affect of our work, to play with an eye to the gallery, we lose power and touch with everything else.
Maisie: Don't you ever think about the gallery?
Dick: Much too often, but I'm always punished by it by loss of power. If we make light of our work by using it for our own ends, our work will make light of us. Success isn't got by sacrificing other people. You must sacrifice yourself and live under orders.
Success is a natural instinct. When I'm watching a sporting event I can feel the nervousness, and the competitor that I still am. Blood pressure goes up. I want certain people - or teams - to succeed, passionately - and others equally to fail and often without any logic to it!
It is no good taking competition out of life and school. It is a good instinct to make the most of ourselves, to be the best we can. The danger is when it remains the only motive.
Henry Drummond wrote: 'A man's motive must grow if God's grace would grow. Many a man has to live on old grace, because he lives on an old motive.'
He adds: 'You may be doing God's will with one hand consecrated to Christ, and making your own autobiography with the other consecrated to self.'
C S Lewis writes in Mere Christianity: 'You will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art no man who bothers about originality will ever be original. Whereas if you simply tell the truth you will nine times out of ten become original without even having noticed it.'
Siegfried Sassoon wrote these lines in 1958:
I saw that smiling conjuror, SUCCESS -
An impresario in full evening DRESS -
Advancing towards me from some floodlit PLACE -
Where fame resides. I did not like his FACE.
I did not like this too forthcoming CHAP
Whose programme was 'to put me on the MAP'.
Therefore I left his blandishments unheeded,
And told him he was not the man I needed.
It is an old saying, 'Nothing succeeds like success.' But equally true is the word of G K Chesterton, 'Nothing fails like success.' The answer surely lies somewhere in between: an unselfish aim in life, and the ambition to pursue it.
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