Manvotional: Foundations

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 26, 2011 · 16 comments

in A Man's Life, Manvotionals

From Traits of Character, 1899
By Henry F. Kletzing

Don’t risk a life structure upon a day’s foundation. –

The government building at Chicago, a large, massive structure and apparently well built, so that it might stand for a century, was recently torn down, not because the superstructure was not firm, but because the foundation at several places was found faulty. Thus, at a great expense, the old building is removed and a new structure is erected, all because the foundation was not safe. Men fail of their best efforts because they were unwilling to prepare well in days when preparation was the one duty.

The foundation for greatness must be laid in youth. Young men frequently make a serious mistake here. They are content with following the pleasures of youth instead of improving early opportunities for preparation for life’s great work. Wellington frequently said that Waterloo was fought and won while he was a schoolboy. It was what he learned then that prepared him for that great battle. Inattention to the foundation has mined many a structure. Inattention to the intellectual and moral development and preparation has ruined many a life.

See yon building rise. While men were engaged in laying the foundation there was nothing attractive about it. Dirt and stones and mortar are not sightly objects. It is only when the superstructure is rising that the attention of the passer-by is given to it. This is why not more attention is given to foundation work. Many a youth who has attracted attention by doing work successfully thinks that his foundation is sure, and looks only to the superstructure. Many a college graduate has dreamed of greatness while delivering his final oration as the applause of friends greets his ear: but too often he is never heard of afterward. Life consists of more real and earnest things than brilliant graduating orations.

Do not mistake the applause of others as success. Avoid the idol which many worship—the love of notoriety and applause. Look to the foundations.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Scott March 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Very true! Thank you for another fantastic post.

2 Jim March 26, 2011 at 11:12 pm

This is advice of untold wisdom. It’s too seldom that I encounter someone my own age who is truly focusing on their “foundation,” as it were.

3 Ken Johnson March 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Foundations involve lots of hard work without a quick payoff.

I think this is why finding a mentor is so important, to be there for encouragement and guidance as you develop a core of fundamentals — techniques, principles, strength etc. None of these things come easy, and are not the “sexy” visible stuff that will immediately win you recognition for your efforts.

4 Mark March 27, 2011 at 12:28 am

The last couple lines made me think of this great quote:

“So long as men praise you, you can only be sure that you are not yet on your own true path but on someone else’s.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

5 Mark March 27, 2011 at 12:33 am

Great post. I really appreciate the lessons in this.

6 Jacob March 27, 2011 at 2:27 am

The wise man built his house upon the rock, and the house on the rock stood firm.

7 Ron March 27, 2011 at 6:49 am

The hidden meaning I read here is though your foundation may be built you can shore it up. Just as many great buildings are rehabbed each year, we can rehab our foundations. The Art of Manliness is a great place to start!

8 Thomas Brooks March 27, 2011 at 7:51 am

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

–Jesus (Matthew 7:24-27)

9 Daniel Calvo March 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Awesome post!
I find myself working on my foundations right now, at 21. I’m studying for a hard certification and afterwards I’ll move abroad to try my luck professionally.
You know what’s hardest? Every single day is the hardest. Its not the day you try the test and win or fail. Its the day you wake up to study after having studied the hundred days before, knowing there are a hundred more down the road until you reach your goal. Some days I almost lose it. There’s doubt and tiredness. And there’s loneliness too. Most of my peers are partying like there’s no tomorrow, drinking, going to bars/clubs, chasing after girls, spending all their money and energy on those things.

That’s cheap. That doesn’t reward me at all.
On the end of the day I just find myself hustling like there’s no tomorrow, only to do it again tomorrow. Its a lonely and hard endeavour. But what else man? I’m actually starting to enjoy hardship, It gives you a chance to stand out. I find myself strangely proud of my hardship and all that comes with it. I don’t think I would have it any other way.

10 James A Houston March 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I find that anything great, whether in art, business, sports, or anything you name began with a proper foundation.

11 Adrian Quiroga March 29, 2011 at 1:10 am

@Daniel Calvo,

I know what you mean. I just turned 19 last Saturday. I’m not a child anymore, but I doesn’t feel like an “adult”. And mi inexperience in many aspects of life like relations and economics make things quite hard.

I also was very close in quitting my carreer, chemical engineering. But I started to realize that I need to try much much harder, because it’s my future what is at risk.

Ultimately, when I am studying and doing homework, and I feel really, really exhausted, I now realize the great resistance and stamina that I never thought I had. I feel that I’m doing something in my life now.

12 Dailey March 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm

This is great, where can I find the book?

13 Mike March 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I was thinking the same scripture.

14 Slim March 29, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Obama should read this… and give it some thought.

15 C Matthews March 30, 2011 at 11:44 am

Great article. I’m 23 and at the beginning of my professional career. I can’t help but wonder what is wrong with my generation – it’s like everyone is busy trying to be cooler than the guy next door. Long gone is the sense of work, or dedication…hell, long gone is the sense of purpose. We now live in an age of instant gratification.

I can only hope that for the sake of this great nation that there are others like me – those who have the sense to forgo the short term pleasures in favor of long term strength. The great men who lived and died before me stand as a testament to the fact that not only is greatness possible, but it demands isolation and persistence. To my fellow peers – (I hope you’re out there) don’t give up for we will have the last laugh one day.

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