Touchstones of Success: Find Out What You Can Do Best

by J.D. on 10 April 2010

In 1920, the Vir Publishing Company printed Touchstones of Success, a book of inspiration for young men (this was 1920, remember, and women had only just begun to push against traditional roles) in which 160 “present-day men of achievement” shared their secrets. Today’s “touchstone of success” comes from Paul Bartlett, a sculptor from Washington, D.C.

Note: Because today’s touchstone is so short (the shortest in the book), I’m filling in with biographical information, much of which has been cribbed from the Wikipedia.

Paul Wayland Bartlett was an American sculptor born in New Haven, Connecticut. When he was fifteen, he traveled to Paris to study under Emmanuel Frémiet. Bartlett’s masterwork was the House of Representatives pediment at the U.S. Capitol building, begun in 1908 and completed in 1916.

Bartlett’s short piece of advice from Touchstones of Success is:

My young friend, try to find what you can do best, and then do it all the time.

Simple, perhaps, but true nonetheless.

For many years, I struggled to be successful. I was depressed and had given up hope of ever finding any work that I loved. But I continued to practice my writing, and I eventually realized that writing is what I do best. I found a way to do it all all the time, and since then, I’ve achieved things I never thought possible.

Every Saturday, Success Daily reprints one touchstone of success. Next week, Hudson Maxim, an inventor and mechanical engineer from Brooklyn, gives advice about making good company of oneself. Photo by Andreas Praefcke.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michael Michalowski 13 April 2010 at 4:29 pm

Yes, it’s simple but maybe that’s it’s beauty?
If you are able to find that one thing, then don’t do the mistake of not doing that thing as often as you can. You only life once, do you? ;)

PS: What font are you using for the comment box? it looks really great!


2 Charlie Park 13 April 2010 at 6:10 pm

Another quote I like that’s similar is W.H. Auden’s “You owe it to us all to get on with what you’re good at.”

P.S. Michael, it’s whichever one of these is on your computer (from first to last): “Palatino Linotype”, Palatino, Georgia, “Times New Roman”, Times, serif;


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