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The Four C's Original Manuscript

We are all pilots of our lives.  The following is the original writing of Major John W Coleman.  It was most likely written as a commencement speech and is still timely today.  It was a handwritten draft still undergoing revisions.  


The Trail to Success


To every conscientious person who stands on the threshold of life’s career there comes the all-important question, “how shall I attain success?”  We can look back to our young days when our lives were full of play and hours of ease and though pleasing memories they are we realize that they are forever past. 


You as young people should focus your thoughts on the days you are now spending in school, though lessons my be hard and discipline severe.  You must now realize that they are precious and important moments.  All of you will not have the chance to attend college after completion of your high school work, and then you must make your debut into this drama of life of the basis of your achievements in high school.  But those of you who will be given the opportunity to further your knowledge before making your debut into this drama of life should be grateful.


Then come to each of these individuals who is about to make his debut into this drama of life, to each of these conscientious persons who is about to throw himself into the world of affairs – comes the omnipotent questions – “How can I attain success?”  What can I do as my bit in helping to advance my fellowman? What path shall I pursue to be on the true trail of success?


Permit me at this moment to make myself clear just what I mean by success.  Webster defines success as “a favorable termination of anything attempted”.  Accepting that definition at its face value, anyone who has decided to make his living by gambling or bootlegging and succeeding in doing so, can claim success for himself, but I don’t mean that kind of success.  When I use the word success I mean accomplishing something for the benefit of Christian civilization and fallen humanity.  In other words, I do not mean to regard one’s life as a success even though he does accomplish that which he desires, unless those desires are in accord with the life and teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Coming again to the question  - “How can one make life a success?  To do any thing, there are certain rules and regulations that we must be governed by.  To be a banker, one must abide by the laws of finance and commerce.  To have a strong and healthy body, one must abide by <left blank>.


To make one’s life a success, one must abide by the rules of and follow in the paths of those whose lives have been successes.


In my estimation there are four fundamental necessities that are pre-requisites to any successful career.  Also there are four elements, which pave the way on what I have chosen to designate as “The Trail to Success”.


The first element I would name is concentration.  If one would succeed in life he must concentrate all his talents and energy on one specific object.  The Apostle Paul said, “This one thing I do.”  Joshua said, “choose you this day what God you will serve.”  If one wishes to succeed he must do one thing at a time, for better to do one thing and do it well than attempt a dozen and leave them all half finished.  Having concentrated upon one object one must develop his talents. 


It’s culture, the second element essential for one to be on the true trail to success.  May I remind you that fine fruit does not grow on uncultured trees, the digging my be deep, the pruning may be severe, but the quality of the fruit obtained will justify the labor and the pain.


The third element, Courage!  When I say courage I don’t mean that something that makes us act on the spur of the moment, either by passion, emotion or fear.  But the courage like that Abraham Lincoln possessed– courage, which helped him to face life with a determination – that courage which carried him from rail-splitter to the presidency of our country.  When I say courage I mean that courage that makes it pleasant for the burdened masses of people to sing a song of joy, to hope for better days as they bear the drudgery of their daily toil.  Courage like that of the pioneers of these United States:  To defy the barren wastes and perilous journeys of an uncivilized land, to defy the unjust laws of a mother country and establish this our America – This our United States – Youngest, but Greatest


I mean courage like that of our forefathers held just a few years ago – courage to hope and pray while bound fast in the chains of slavery and afar being emancipated, without clothes, wealth, education, without food and the majority without a place to lay their heads – courage to pray – to work and rise to the height of the present American Negro – fifteen million strong – a record unsurpassed.


Courage to face life determined to succeed regardless of our color.  God likes colors.  That’s why he gave us the many hues in flowers as well as in individuals.  And if the world were truly Christian there would be no serious problem as to the color of skin one possesses.  A person would be assayed solely on the basis of what constructive work he could perform during his own lifetime.  Psychologists have taught that the true measure of a man consists of his products rather than his complexion.  “What can you do”? Is the real test of your worth instead of “what is your race and color?” 


In short, can you “do” something that is commendable?  You can’t even be good unless you “do” good, for virtue is measured only by actions and deeds.


Last, but not least, I would like to put into this structure – character.  When I use the word character, I mean that kind of character that will coincide with the life and teaching of Christ.  Success can never be obtained without the foundation of a true and noble character.  One man said, “Character is power.”  J. Hawes said, “The character is like white paper, if once blotted, it can hardly ever be made to appear white as before.  One wrong step often stains the character for life.  It is much easier to form a good character and preserve it pure, than to purify it after if has become defiled.”  Therefore, if one wishes to attain the envious bliss of success, he must travel the path – The Trail to Success – armed with concentrationculturecourage and character.  And if armed with these essential elements – at the end of the trail will stand that long sought goal – Success.


Not the evil success of which I spoke of in the beginning but the true Christian success, the like of which I shall attempt to describe:


It’s doing your work the best you can

And being just to your fellow man

It’s making money and holding friends

And staying true to your aims and ends;

It’s figuring how and learning why,

And looking forward and thinking high,

And dreaming a little and doing much


It’s keeping always in closest touch;

With what is finest in word and deed;

It’s being thorough yet making speed,

It’s daring blithely the field of chance

While making labor a bright romance,

It’s going onward despite defeat

And fighting staunchly, but keeping sweet

It’s being clean and it’s playing fair

It’s laughing lightly at despair

It’s looking up at the stars above

It’s drinking deeply of life and love

It’s struggling onward with the will to win

But taking loss with a cheerful grin

It’s showing sorrow and work and worth

And making better this good old earth

It’s serving, striving, through strain and stress

In doing your noblest – “That’s Success.”


J.W. Coleman, Jr. 1928 -1975 Date written Unknown

 copyright 1999