FLIES I HAVE SEEN— (In the Ointment)


EVERY year we send out into industry men who look forward to a full life of practice and success. Every year we admit new students who are eager to labor hard in order to achieve good training and fit themselves for the satisfactions that come with the ability to do great deeds well.

And yet—and yet—

Why is it that we find so many falling short of their fair promise? Is it that some big chasm opens between them and their goal? Do they prove to have pudding-bags for heads? Is there some great defect hidden in their makeup?

Or can the ointment of their success be spoiled by a few little flies?

Let me refer to two or three of these little insects.

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I have in mind a student who is suffering the results of misapplied affability. He is a friendly lad, open, frank and energetic. But his good nature recognizes no distinctions and he is as breezy with a dignified stranger as with his daily acquaintances; with his professor as with his fellow student. He creates the impression that he would defer to no one. He is not disrespectful, but he seems lacking in respect.  He gives no honor, where honor is due.   He is not gracious.   Prospective employers "close up" before him, and wait for him to bustle away.

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Another man with whom 1 have talked was greatly shocked to be told that his associates called him egotistical. The tilt of his head with withdrawal from activities, his isolation, his mannerisms, all told the same tale. And yet, he had not known that this had been a universal opinion.

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How about the "good-enough" man? Why should he strive and strain, just in order to improve his work by the narrow margin between "good" and "excellent”?

Why worry and stew because his results are not the best he can give?

Does he realize that the small advantage that the best has over the next best is sufficient to command attention in world markets?

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Not long since, an alumnus came to my office to confer with me about a younger fellow in his organization, who was failing to live up to our expectations of him. What, then, was the trouble? In fine, he could not submit to supervision. He chafed under orders. He resented being held to the necessary rules and regulations of an organization.   He could not comfortably conform or cooperate. From his "cub" days he had striven to be a free lance. And, in spite of several most thoughtful and considerate interviews and counsellings, he continued to see designs on the part of his foreman to discredit him—to discipline him in unnecessarily severe and annoying ways.

He has good training, a clear mind, a strong physique. What may be his outlook? Certainly, this chap never can be a, good staff man. He will never freely lend his efforts to others, nor can he expect others long to go out of their ways to assist him. He cannot become an organization man, even in the responsible positions of management and authority—the independence he so much craves. He does not know the first principles of the direction of other men. He could never build up a loyal group of co-workers.

Any man who gets stiff-necked under ordinary supervision isolates himself, belittles his own work, shrinks his opportunity, limits his advancement. Short of miraculous genius, he is doomed to deepening disappointments. (The accidental alliteration is suggestive—"doomed—deepening 'disappointments."  D-d-d —dud; or perhaps, dead!)

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But, the happy thing about this gloomy subject is that men can improve their personal characteristics as definitely as they can their technical abilities.   Men have done it. Men can do it. It is a slow, laborious, difficult task, but the returns are most gratifying.

Scoop out the flies! If they're big enough, use 'em for fish bait!