As I look at the characteristics of these leaders, it is a noteworthy fact that running through the whole gamut of their personal traits which exhibit such enormous differences, there are, at the same time, very pronounced similarities. We are much more inclined to contrast these men than to parallel them. For this reason we dwell most frequently upon the elements in their makeups which fix the fields in which they are great, rather than upon the forces which determine greatness itself.
This single page cannot exhibit with any completeness the congruities of great men. Rather it is an opportunity for me to monologue, and to set for you the task of extending the analyses. Certain of these elements, however, I would separate out and hold up to your attention.
The successful man is positive, with an assurance based upon knowledge. He knows what he knows, and is fully aware of the limitations of his knowledge. There is a foundation under his feet upon which he cannot be shaken, but beyond which he feels his way and treads with caution,—or goes not at all. He knows the limits of his bases and cannot be persuaded to extend himself recklessly.
He is dynamic. There is nothing dormant about him. The element of activity, of expenditure of energy, of power, is present.
You see in him the intensity of concentrated enthusiasm. Yet, he constrains its application along lines of his own choosing, and does not expend his energy at random. Well-directed power is the product of his activity.
Again, he is persistent, with a tireless forgetfulness of self, but with a forward-looking vision to the outcome. . No task he really undertakes can be thrown down until it is completed. Time is his servant, not his master. It sums for him his continued efforts, and the product is accomplishment, energy, work done.
Our elementary physics has taught us that the application of power must be continued through an appreciable period of time in order to do work. In the symbolism of mathematics: Work equals integral of Pdt between, the limits of t1 and t2.
The power may be great, but if the time t1—t2 is short
the summation is small. Upon the other hand. a separation of the
time limits will make up for a reduction of power, and the result still
will be of
any magnitude desired.
Nowhere is this principle more evident than in the advance of a man toward a position of leadership. His power must be used persistently to bulk large. He must begin early, he must run late. Time must be his servant, his integrator.
Persistence, —pressing, dynamic persistence, based upon
understanding,—this is one of the elements I see in great men.