No man has built up a large business, made a fortune, won fame as an artist or author or scholar, made discoveries in science, or indeed accomplished anything in life, who has not worked hard and long and methodically. This applies even to men of genius.
Sir Joshua Reynolds, the famous English portrait painter of the 18th century, said in a letter to a friend: “Whoever is resolved to excel in painting, or indeed in any other art, must bring all his mind to bear upon that one object from the moment that he rises till he goes to bed.”
He also said: “Those who are resolved to excel must go to their work, willing or unwilling, morning, noon and night : they will find it no play, but hard labour.” And Reynolds himself practiced what he preached.
Industry or diligence must be made a habit in youth; for it is very difficult to get out of the habit of idleness, once it is formed, in later life.
The young man who gets into the way of shirking his daily work, or of scalping it to get it through as quickly as possible, will not only be a failure, but will be an idler all his days.
Industry not only brings success, but is a true source of happiness. Regular daily work, which has to be done, even though at times it is irksome and tiring, gives a man in the end far more solid contentment than any amount of pleasure-seeking.
People who have nothing to do soon become discontented, and get into the way of feverishly indulging in passing pleasures to fill up the time that hangs so heavy on their hands. But they find no lasting peace or happiness in this way.
Lastly, industry gives a man the satisfaction of independence. The steady worker who earns all he has by honest toil and owes no man anything, can look the world in the face, being dependent on none.