- Definition of a “rolling stone”.
- Men who constantly change their business do not succeed.
- Men who are always throwing up one job for another’ fail.
- Students must stick to become scholars.
- But adventurers gather “moss” for the world.
Why a stone should want to gather moss, it is hard to say. But the proverb is an old one, and everyone knows what it means. The “rolling stone” is the man who is always changing his occupations and pursuits, and never settles down steadily to anything. Popular wisdom that such a fickle and unreliable person makes but little out of life.
There is, no doubt, a great deal of truth in this. In these days of keen business competition and specialization, a man must choose a trade or profession and stick to it, if he is to achieve any success. Steady application and hard work at one job are essential. A man who starts one kind of business, and getting tired of it, tries another, and then gives that up for a third, cannot hope to get on in any. Constantly chopping and changing, he cannot expect to produce any satisfactory results by his dissipated efforts. As the proverb says, “He who hunts two hares, loses both”.
The typical “rolling stone” is the man who never keeps any situation in his trade or profession long. When you get an application from him, and find that he has had many posts but only short periods, you say: “Ah! This fellow is evidently a ‘rolling stone’; he will never stick to this job, even if I give it to him. He is no good.” Such men seem to have restless natures, and are incapable of settling down anywhere.
The same is true of studies. A student who wishes to become a scholar must specialize in one subject; and he must devote all his time and energy to it, if he is ever to become an authority on it. The student who takes up mathematics, and then goes in for history, and tiring of that takes up philosophy, and drops this again for economics, will be “Jack of all trades and master of none”.
Still, there is something to be said for “rolling stones”. Adventurers, explorers, travelers, and discoverers are generally men of restless energy who could never settle down to any steady occupations. Yet the world owes much rolling stones; for, even though they gather no “moss’ for themselves, they certainly gather much for the world, in the shape of new knowledge. But these are men apart. For ordinary people the proverb is, “Slow and steady wins the race.”