Rosicrucian Writings Online

Creating A New Career


By H. Spencer Lewis, Ph.D., F.R.C.
[From The Rosicrucian Digest March 1932]
THE topic chosen for tonight's discourse is that of creating a new career. It is very likely that at the present time, with the new year just before us and an old year that has just passed, that many are thinking of starting a new career. I imagine that throughout the nation today there are many thousands of men and women sitting around the family round-table looking at the pile of debts before them--whether those debts are physical in form in the way of notations on paper or mental--and are also looking at the small purse and feeling rather depressed and blue, that they are asking each other, the man and wife, whether it is not possible to start a new career.
I know that in my own personal mail there are many requests each month from persons who seek to get some special advice here from the chief executives, hoping that they will learn of something or hear of something unusual. The question they ask is, "Do you think that at my age, do you think in my business or field and with my limitations and obligations and responsibilities, it is possible to start a new career?" So many also want to move, thinking that is the solution of the problem. We even receive telegrams stating, "I am moving; change my mail address. I am leaving Chicago to go to Baltimore." The next one says, "I am leaving Baltimore to go to Chicago." The next one is, "I am going from Jacksonville, Florida, to St. Louis"; and so it goes, each one feeling as the old proverb says, 'that the grass is just a little greener on the other side of the fence.' They feel that merely a change in location may bring them opportunities, or there may be opportunities of which they can take advantage, but the general cry and desire seems to be to change to a new career.
So many feel that they have exhausted the possibilities in their occupation. So many feel, because of age, they have reached that point where the employer or foreman or those executives who have charge of the employment, will some day say, "John or Jim, you have reached the point where you are too old for us; we must have new blood." According to what we learned in the last few years, this age limit has been gradually lowering. It is not a wholesome, encouraging thing for the married man to think of, nor the married woman either. There was a time, if you recall, some of you, when it was said that at forty a man should chloroform himself, but it seems now that they have decided to let him live, but let him starve. It would seem that even a man of thirty-five must begin to think of some sort of exercise or some form of rejuvenation for fear of old age creeping upon him some night. He is so close to the borderline. It is no wonder men and women are beginning to wonder whether they had better look for some other field.
There are some lines of industries, some lines of occupation, that do not set an age limit. Personally, I agree with those chief executives in all fields of activities that say that age is an asset, if that age has been accompanied with experience. After all, the young trained man with all of his technical training and all of his pep cannot always compete with the man of experience.
A few days ago I was visiting one of my friends here in town and, while sitting at his desk, I noticed that on a little scratch pad there was a notation he had written. I happened to read it. I am going to tell you the proverb that he wrote. The proverb, he probably was going to use in his business, which is advertising. He said that "Pep without purpose is piffle." It is easy to remember that. The three p's that form a literation[1] help us to remember; and the truth is astounding.
They talk about the college youth being pepped up with all sorts of exercises and cereal foods, but the pep usually has no purpose and is just piffle. It reminds me of a story about a steamboat on the Mississippi. The captain of that boat wanted to have a very impressive whistle; so he put an enormous steam whistle on it, all out of proportion. They say when it was coming down the stream, and he pulled the strap and blew that whistle, it let out so much steam the boat started going backwards; and because it had a 24-inch whistle and only a 16-inch boiler, every time she was ready to start and he blew the whistle, it had no steam left so had to wait for more steam in order to start. That is also pep without purpose, typifying the average man of today.
Usually the man from college rushes into the city or town, into the offices of the various firms, into the employment department, throws down his hat and says, "I want a job." With all his pep and vim and vigor, like the steamboat, it looks as though he were going to get somewhere. He is no more fitted, perhaps for the business world than a child, but he is full of mistaken ideas regarding that which too many business people have figured out as an asset--vim and pep. Then, the man with long years of experience and judgment who could not get out and do a tap-dance in the middle of the floor to a tune on a harmonica, and who could not run up and down stairs like the young ones, is let out because he did not have the pep and vim of the young men.
Some of the occupations and professions are over-crowded until there is nothing left in that profession or occupation. Why, even the shoe peddler has competition and cannot make as much money in fixing shoes or selling them, along with his little business, as he could before; and so it is in almost all lines of business. Machinery has come in and relieved a great many, but even beyond this there is the desire in the hearts of men and women today, as there never was in any age or period, for a change. That is due to two things: Modern psychology and modern systems of self-analysis. Modern methods of psycho-analysis have, in the first place, enabled men and women to discover that they are in the wrong occupations, wrong professions, or in the wrong nitch[2] in life. It may be a social nitch; it may not be a business nitch. In the second place, our highly efficient business methods have created newer opportunities that are not overcrowded and are lucrative and interesting.
There are thousands, perhaps millions, of men and women tonight who can look back over their past lives, the past years of occupation, toil, and industry, and all look forward a few years and see that unless a change is made very soon, they will fail in life or they will not have the success in life that they should have. You know, it used to take more years to find out that the man who was preaching on Sunday would have made a better plumber. Usually he was the last to find it out. The congregation, or the people to whom he owed money, discovered it long before he did; and they usually found that the average plumber would make a better preacher. It happened sometimes that young men or women went into the business world and were complete failures before it dawned on them that perhaps the parents had not selected the right profession or occupation for them. Today, with our methods of analysis, with all of the specialized magazines that enable us to pick out quickly and easily our real qualifications, persons need not be misfits.
Many ask, "Are there really new opportunities?" Constantly, I hear of men and women who have set out and created for themselves a new career--a new profession they have gone into--a new, trained occupation. Many things in our highly specialized lives today offer opportunities for new lines of occupation. We are in the electrical age, let us say, and that field, alone, is still so young and so small compared to what it will be, that it is hardly more than in the infant stage. We have no idea nor can we have any conception today of what the electrical possibilities of the future and even of the present will afford in the way of new trades, new occupations, new specialized efforts, affording men and women of all types an opportunity to make a good living. The same is true of many other things. If we are in the electrical age now, we are just entering it, and on top of it is coming the air age, so to speak. The air age is going to open up in all its possibilities. But, aside from that, we are coming into many other forms of living that open up new and greater opportunities for the persons who are careful and analytical and discover them, for most of them must be discovered and created.
Early in my first contact with the Rosicrucian teachings, as a young man, I was impressed with the fact that the only openings that are really worth while in life are the ones that the individual creates for himself. I remember being impressed with that idea and wrote an article for the "Success" magazine, as it was called at that time, about twenty-eight years ago, and headed the article, "Creating Your Own Opportunities." The proverb then was very popular, as it is still with many people, "Hark and listen for opportunity when it knocks, for it knocks only once." But I want to tell you that you may be asleep when that knock comes, and yet you cannot stay awake, waiting for it, and I have not much sympathy for one who does. One person might say to another, "You stay at home and watch, and if a fellow comes to the door and leaves a card with 'Opportunity' on it, you let me know, and I am going down town and look for him." Between the two of them, the opportunity is apt to be found.
I have noticed that the one who follows our suggestions, the one who goes out and creates the opportunities, is the one who makes what the other people will say afterwards, a soft berth for himself. He puts himself into such a nitch, one that he, himself, has created, and he fits in it so well, like a missing piece that is out of a crazy cut puzzle, that only one piece will fit, and if he fits--his physical and mental abilities--he will find he is the only one who can squeeze into it, and it takes some difficulty to squeeze him out. Others might say, "It is pretty soft for you." But it is these things created in this manner, that constitute a successful career in life.
Now, I am not going to foolishly quote John D . Rockefeller, and say that perhaps the first time he saw an oil can he said to himself, "I am going to make myself look like an oil can; so I will make a nitch and fit into it." John D. Rockefeller and the whole family created a nitch, and for years have filled that nitch. The time has gone when they were the richest. That never was their real nitch or they would never have moved out. At the present time Henry Ford is in that nitch. It is not his real nitch, either. It is only a temporary one that goes along with his real nitch. There are some people who are successful who have no worldly title, but who are going along just the same, filling the same position safely and with sureness for the rest of their lives, as long as they are capable, physically and mentally.
Now what will you do to begin this creating of a career? The first thing you should do is to say to yourself what your good wife would say to you: "John, what else can you do?" That is a logical question. You cannot begin to create something without having some idea in mind first. You want to know before you start whether or not what you have chosen will suit you. Find out what else you can do other than what you are doing now. First, find out why your present position is not paying you well, or why you are out of a position, and how you liked it when you had it. Now, it is foolish for any man to say that he can plug along through life and make a success in any line that he does not like. He may get his salary, and he may, in exchange for the salary, give what he is forced to give, but that is neither productive for the man nor for the firm. That man is sure to be one of the first to be laid off. Unless that man or woman is in an occupation that is most interesting, and the work so nice or so to the liking of the individual that he could even work at it for a few minutes or hours overtime without thinking of the overtime pay, or is constantly thinking how to improve it or take on more work without thinking of asking for an increase, he is not doing his best. If you have a position that goes against your grain from morning to night, you are not in the right position, and that is one good reason for making a change and a good reason for changing to some different occupation.
On the other hand, if you are of the type where all work is boresome and the mere fact that your alarm clock gets you out of bed and makes you go to work is annoying--if you are of that type, then this analysis will not help you. There are some like that. They wish every day was Sunday so they could sleep a little longer in the morning. They go to work with that attitude. They do not say the job is distasteful; it is passable; they have not given it much thought.
The minute the man is seeking to improve his position and begins to look upon himself as being a victim of universal circumstances, it is like the man who got out of step in the parade and said all of the rest of the parade was wrong and he was right. We may later find this man, a highly expressive and versatile speaker, standing on a soap box, in the park, talking on a new sociology, merely because he cannot adjust himself to conditions. He wants to adjust conditions before he improves himself. He is apt to think that he does not need any changing, but conditions around him do.
On the other hand, the man who feels that the business he is in is one that is not just for him, tries to adjust himself. He will let the business stand as it is, looking upon the system, the line he is in, as an established thing that would only change by the evolution of the component parts in it. Only after all the employees, only after all the consumers, the capitalists, and everybody and everything connected with it gradually evolve, will it change. The average person who is just dissatisfied because the line he is in is distasteful, but knows he can do better and can do something more productive, something more fitting to the ultimate consumer--is the person who can be helped. There is nothing wrong with the business or the employers, nothing wrong with the opportunities of that business, and nothing wrong with the system back of it. The only thing that is wrong is the man himself and his relation to it.
It may be a piano factory. This man, who is restless, tones or tunes pianos all day long. He never does any of the wood carving, or strings any of the wiring, or assembles any of the parts; he does not even hear the piano played when it is being demonstrated for a buyer. All he hears all day long is his playing on a few notes to see if the felt pads need toning or tuning; and he tones one after another all day long. He never had the satisfaction of building one of them, never had the satisfaction of selling one. Such a man may become tired. He may say, "I am qualified for something better than this." But he will not condemn the factory; he will only condemn his individual relationship with the system, with the factory, with the work he is doing. He says, "I am qualified for something better." What else can he do? Too many men have only one training, one profession. If they are bookkeepers or accountants they know just that and nothing else; or the man that tones pianos may never have thought of taking up some other business.
Other fields of work, other than the one you are in, have a certain handicap, but not a definite, continuous handicap, not one that cannot be removed. There are hundreds of schools ready to help you take up a new course of study. Some of these courses of study at home are from such schools as the Columbia University of New York or University of California. The Rosicrucian system also trains the mind, develops latent talent and awakens interest in various fields of endeavor that will help you to improve yourself, and you are studying under a great school. There are many schools, not only international correspondence schools, but others as well. I know a man seventy years of age, who graduated from the Blackstone Institute of Law, worked for six months in a lawyer's office, passed the bar examination, and now practices law. I have known young married women, while taking care of a baby, to study law and graduate and be admitted to the bar to practice; in fact, I know of two cases. It can be done and is being done. It is not too late. No matter if they say in the economic and business world that forty is the age limit, there is one thing about it--education sets no limit on it. No matter how old you are, if you can read and understand what you read, you can still lift yourself up out of the rut you are in.
The principal thing of starting a new career, after you have determined what you want to do, is to visualize yourself in that position, or as a worker in some factory, some line of business. The thing in working it out is to begin with the use of the mind power in creating the hope. You may decide upon going into this or that business. The best way to do this is to begin by visualizing yourself in the very position you have chosen. Do not visualize yourself sitting at a desk, in a factory, or visualize the pay envelope, but visualize yourself as a component part of that particular industry, of that particular business, as an executive, not merely as an employer or foreman. Think of yourself as one who is constantly adding to that knowledge, to the growth and development as though you were fitting yourself into the entire picture, not as an employer, but as a director; not as chief of the board of directors that meets once a month or so, but as one of those directors who represents the field of activity. Keep visualizing yourself as a necessary part of the new growth, the new development of that line of business you wish to get into. Then, in addition to this, every day go out and make contact with those who are in it. Don't just call on the heads of the organization you want to reach, or the vice-president, or the manager. Find out who are the principal employees in that business; try to meet them, or one of them at the club or where he goes to lunch. Try to reach him, talk to him; say frankly, "I understand you are working for such and such a firm, or such and such a line of business." Ask him what he has to say about that business; how it is getting along. Don't talk position to him; talk the business to him. Get some information about the history; how it is going, whether any new improvements are contemplated. Ask him, "Do you know of any improvements in your firm that could be made? Are they working on some?"
I remember one time I went to visit the Borden Condensed Milk Factory at Randolph, New York. I went up with the chief officer of the milk company at Randolph. Randolph is occupied solely by the employees of the Borden Condensed Milk Company. It is a cooperative plan, and they even have their own theater. I found, in talking to one of the employees, that he had been working for three years on a factory improvement. He said, "You know the Borden Condensed Milk Company has a factory full of machinery, and if any of us employees have an idea how to improve it, we are given two or three weeks, if necessary, to go to the factory and they let us work out our ideas, and if our idea works out, we get $5,000, plus our regular salary while working it out. That encourages us. They have a record of twenty-eight inventions in the past year. I don't know how much for preceding years. One girl figured out a quicker way of pasting the labels on the cans and she got $5,000. It cost $9,000 to improve the machinery, but it saved thousands of dollars a year. There is still one thing everybody in the factory would like to do, and we cannot solve it. The man who can find a quicker way of closing up the cases around the cans gets $5,000. We have not been able to make a single improvement on its present method. I have an idea how it should be done, but not how it can be done." Later on, when I was shown through the factory, I understood the problem.
A year from that I was telling a man out of employment to hobnob with the people he wanted to work for and find out if there was any one department that was weak because the firm had not been able to find a specialized man to fit into it. Then I recalled my past experience at Randolph. I said to the man, "I will tell you where $5,000 is waiting for you if you can work out a way of closing wooden cases more quickly," and I described it to him. He secured a permit, and within three months he worked it out and that man is now in charge of that department. That man wanted to get in a position where he could use tools and work around machinery, but if he just stood around waiting for the position, he would have been a failure. He showed the Borden Milk Company that although they did not need him now they would need him tomorrow, because he was what they needed. That is the only way you can do. Get acquainted with the new line, with the people, and then try and see where you might fit in.
This little system can be extended to fit any of your problems, any position, new course, you are seeking to make. First visualize, creating it in your mind until it is a real thing, then go out in the world in a definite way and find the nitch that is a duplicate of the one you have visualized. If you have been visualizing correctly, you can start a new career for yourself. Start out with the thought of developing new ideas, new lines, new life, laying aside all of your wrong habits and doubts that have tended to hold you down in the past. Begin with new faith and new confidence and you will find your new career, regardless of your age and conditions.
Webmaster's Notes:
[1] The expression "a literation" was probably a stenographical error and should have read "alliteration".
[2] The word "nitch" which appears in a dozen places in this article was probably a stenographical error and should have read "niche".

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