The Dean's Corner


by Dean O. J. Ferguson

(N. B. —Perhaps I should explain that the Editor and Printer conspired against me last month to leave off the title of my little essay. Of course I shall consider that they did it as a compliment, presuming that everyone would know what I was talking about!

However, I had expected to write more installments upon the above subject anyway, and as I undertake this one, I've decided not to take any more risks like that, for I myself may forget what I started out to say.)

Having emphasized the need of clear vision and definition of one's objective, another element of success which I would discuss is ambition. Everyone knows what ambition is. We are always credited by our mothers with having quite a bit of it. In point of fact, every man jack of us is fitted up with a pretty liberal supply. I almost said " blessed with," but I should have had to add " or cursed " because not all ambitions are equally meritorious and commendable. " Aye, there's the rub!" They may be numerous and conflicting. They may be impotent or dormant. They may be vacillating and transient. They may be ill proportioned and badly balanced. Or, they may be few but well correlated and organized. They may be vigorous and alert. They may be as steady as gravitation and as lasting. Which-ever they are, whatever their compulsion, where-ever they drive us, however much they goad us, they are the fires in our souls which distinguish us from clods and make us play and work and fight.

What are some of the fuels which feed these fires—which, when well selected and properly mixed give a clear fire with minimum of waste—which, when driven by the forced draft of resolution attain a white heat—but which, when out of proportion, or badly chosen, interfere with the whole process and ruin the results?

Ambition to acquire money comes in for great popularity. We are driven by a desire to have riches in all the forms which it takes—gold, silver, stocks, bonds, lands and houses. Up to a certain point this is a laudable ambition, and one which everyone should have. The same is true of the desire to have popularity; to enjoy life's pleasures; to take one's ease. None of these is inherently wrong or improper. None of them should be absent from one's category. Yet look back over them—money, popularity, pleasure, ease—and when each one is increased beyond a reasonable measure, see what we have! It is a, miserly, bootlicking, debauched lazy-bones! An avaricious, sycophantic, toadying sluggard!

Perhaps the opposite extreme is equally shocking. Without a modicum of these qualities one would be an improvident, boorish, joyless drudge. Take your choice. I predict that it will be the middle ground, in which there lie both profit and pleasure.

Another common fuel is the ambition to wield power. This is capable of producing stupendous results. Its stimulus brings out the boss of the boys' neighborhood gang; it produces the leaders in community affairs; it gives us politicians and even statesmen. It builds great factories; organizes far-reaching businesses; it unifies our communication systems and develops transportation; it burrows into the earth and it sails through the air. It controls our acts. It directs our lives. It rules the world.

If these are great ambitions, the next one to be mentioned must be considered colossal. If these are excellent quality combustibles, then the high-test fuel par excellence is the ambition to serve. It takes only a drop of this to make its presence known. Yet it is the only fuel which is capable of being regulated to, the needs of any particular requirement.

It is the desire to serve which makes endurable the ambition to exert powerful control.  The foreman, the business executive, the statesman, the king—without an idea or ideal of service, has not reached full power.

Service has become the watchword of our day. It is the slogan of commercial organizations. It is required by all employers, in the relations which their employees have with the public. It is found in our homes, our offices, on our streets, and in all effective human contacts. It is that which makes human relations worth while or even possible. " The ambition to serve,"—without it no engineer may expect to thrive—to progress—to stand—even to exist as an engineer.

Buy a gallon of this fuel. You will find it at