In the military battalion, my friend was No. 1 in the front rank, for the two years during which he drilled. The lieutenant, who had formerly been the tallest man in the battalion, passed his laurels over to the new-comer.
H-E W-A-S B-I-G! There was no doubt about it. One dusky evening, when he was leading the company in "double-time", he collided with a post, and three-quarters of his followers piled into the mess because they couldn't get around him.
On the football field "Shorty," as he was called, wrecked the old-time flying-wedge allowed in those days, by leaning up against the point of it, and gathering it into his arms. He preferred this method as simpler and more comfortable than the one taught by coaches, of lying down and tangling with the legs of the centipede.
There weren't any movable objects on the campus that were bigger than Shorty!
And yet, I wonder if you think you know Shorty's measure! Well, I don't believe you have that idea at all.
Taking a man's measure means something more than fitting him with shoes, or hat, or trousers, or coat. No yardstick, no tapeline, no platform scales can do the job. You still know little or nothing about Shorty.
And it really is a pretty important thing to do, this measuring of a man, especially if the man is yourself. Not much less significant is it, if the man is working for you, or if you are working for him. How can it be done? What are some of the elements to be measured, and the scales to be used in doing it? Let's cogitate a bit.
Does ambition play any part? Ambition—the total of one's urgent desires for advancement.
You are registering in the University of Nebraska this fall, because of your ambition to make more of your life than you otherwise could. Looking forward fifteen years, you picture yourself, perhaps, as a con-struction engineer, erecting superstructures of steel and concrete. Or, your vision may be that of manipulating the wireless transmission of messages or pictures. You may have in mind the task of generating great quantities of power, and distributing it to those who use it. Probably no two of our eight hundred students have the same picture-dreams.
This determination, this resolution, in itself, is an indicator. The intensity of the desire is a measure-ment which is of prime importance in the estimation of a man, for it shows how much he is willing to pay in energy, application, time and thought to get ahead. Your choice to undertake a college education is, there-fore, an indication of purpose which is worthy and good. Let it he a strong, driving force.
Regardless of the intensity of resolution of each runner to win the race—only one man wins. Perhaps only two or three make good time. Those who do must have had superior ability or training. How do these characteristics come in? Can they be separated?
Inherent ability differs among men in type and in magnitude. The "equality of men" certainly does not obtain in this particular.
By this term, we mean the native capacity to re-ceive training and instruction, to observe and to reason. It is the fundamental intelligence one starts with—not the trained ability.
This native intelligence can he measured as to its extent and, to some degree, as to the peculiar bent—Some of the very promising developments in the field of eduation are connected with the planning to tests of different kinds, to show specific abilities, such as mechanical aptitude, manual dexterity, creative imagination, etc.
Let it be said without reservation, however, that no one expects to develop absolutely sure indicators. The factors are too numerous, and some of the influencing elements are too subtle.
Nevertheless, we may hope to find by trial, some types of tests that will help us. But, in measuring yourself, you will have a difficult task. Perhaps a few questions may assist you.
Are you most interested in problems that require a mental attack, or in occupations in which your hands and muscles do the work ?
Be it what it may, what do you best like to do? Many will answer by saying "Read", but if so, let me give a follow-up question. What do you like to read? Science? Action stories? News? History? In what lies your chief interest?
Do you like to be with other people, or do you prefer to be alone? Have you any very intimate chum? Have you ever had one?
What subjects did you like best in your high school? Are they the same ones in which you got your best marks?
Did you really work hard and honestly on your low-grade subjects? Can you hold yourself to a distasteful task?
What led you to enroll in the College of Engineering? Was it a result of your experiences and observations, or was it because of someone's influence upon you?
If you knew that you could earn more money in some other profession would you still be interested in engineering?
What do you think would be the best job in the world ? Do you think you could prepare to do it better than the average man can?
And now, we welcome you to school again, where you will
be afforded opportunities to study yourself; to learn of the demands of
various professions by training and information. In short, we hope to assist
you to orient yourself to your life work in such a fashion and with such
success that you may have a contented, normal, productive career, while
you take your place as a respected citizen.