Reprinted from the October-November, 1967 issue of IPA Facts, a publication of the Institute of Public Affairs, Melbourne, Australia.
The discoverer of Australia, Captain James Cook, said: "I had ambition not only to go farther than any man had ever been before, but as far as it was possible for a man to go."
"… as far as it was possible for a man to go." There could hardly be a better text. We should all aim to achieve in life as much as it is possible for us to achieve, to stretch ourselves to the limit of our capabilities. That is much further than most of us realize. Few people make the best of themselves. Few use to the full the gifts they are fortunate to possess. The most tragic of all wastes is the under-use of human talent.
This is not just a matter of achieving success in our chosen vocation or in the eyes of the world. It is the more difficult task of making a success of ourselves, of developing to the utmost our powers and capacities. One may achieve outstanding success in one’s career and yet still fall far short of one’s full potential as a human being.
Too many people set their sights too low. Their range of vision is limited. They can see only what is in their immediate vicinity. They have no far horizons or hope or ambition. They go through life unaware of the magic and poetry of existence, untouched by inspiration or imagination. To find, one must seek: to see, one must lift up one’s eyes to the hills.
It does not matter that the goals we set ourselves are unattainable—all the better. The great tragedy is never to have felt the urge to rise above oneself, to be satisfied to go through life at ground level, to have no purpose beyond the satisfaction of everyday needs.
"Ah! but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp.
Or what’s a Heaven for?"