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Monday Motivation: Carefulness and Recklessness

Published by on February 17th, 2020.


Carefulness and prudence are natural aptitudes. The careless man is not wilfully careless. He is careless because he has not the aptitudes which make a man careful. The imprudent man is not wilfully imprudent, but because he does not have the inherent qualifications for prudence, the taking of precautions, the wise and careful scrutinizing of all the elements entering into success. For some work men are required who have the natural aptitudes of carefulness and prudence. The great tragedy is that this kind of work is often entrusted to men who are so constituted that it is very easy for them to take chances. The person who is naturally optimistic and hopeful and always looks on the bright side cheerfully expects whatever he does to “come out all right,” as he expresses it. He therefore neglects to take sufficient precautions; he does not exercise care as he should; he takes unnecessary and unwise risks. The result is that oftentimes his optimism turns out to be very poorly justified. When things do go wrong on account of their carelessness, such people may feel distressed about it for a time, but they soon recover. They hope for “better luck next time.” They expect, by their ingenuity and resourcefulness, to more than make up for the troubles which have come as the result of their carelessness. On the other hand, those who are naturally careful and dependable do not have much hope of things coming out right without eternal vigilance and foresight. They are inherently somewhat apprehensive. They take precautions, are on their guard, and leave no stone unturned whose turning may insure success.
But there are certain classes of work which require a willingness to take chances. Such enterprises are speculative. In order to be happy in them one must have a certain amount of optimism and hopefulness. He must accept temporary failure without discouragement. The heart to look on the bright side of every cloud must be born in one. He must believe always that the future will bring more desirable results. The careless person delights in this kind of work. The element of chance in it appeals to his sporting blood. The danger gives him needed excitement and thrill. The anxious, apprehensive person has no place in such
enterprises. Their uncertainties are a drain upon his nervous system. He worries. He makes himself ill with his anxieties and apprehensions. He is unhappy. When disaster does happen, he takes it seriously, feels discouraged, thinks his efforts have been of no avail, can see nothing in the future but black ruin, and otherwise destroys not only his joy in his
work, but his efficiency and usefulness in it.

In actual practice we find both prudent and reckless misfits. Such people are unhappy, inefficient, and usually unsuccessful. It is strange that men do not understand, before undertaking a vocation, so elemental and fundamental a thing as the question of carelessness and carefulness. Yet, somehow or other, they do not. We find thousands of

men worrying, anxious, distrait, because of the uncertainties of their businesses and the chances they have to take. We find other thousands of men blundering, careless, optimistic, always hopeful for better things
in the future, and yet attempting to succeed in a business which requires care, infinite pains and precautions. Thoughtless, impulsive, frivolous people are always trying to do work requiring careful, plodding, painstaking, methodical ways; while thoughtful, philosophic, and deliberate people oftentimes find themselves distressed, bewildered, and inefficient in the hurly-burly of some swift-moving vocation.

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