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Parents are often influenced by the most irrelevant of prejudices in counseling their children as to vocation. A man who has had an unfortunate experience with a lawyer is very likely to oppose strenuously any move on the part of his son to study and practice law. Many practical men have intense prejudices against art, music, literature, and other such professions for their sons. The number of parents who are prejudiced against a college education is legion. On the other hand, there are a goodly number of men who are prejudiced against any vocation for their sons which does not involve a college education.
Many parents who have worked hard and toiled unremittingly at any particular profession oftentimes feel that they want their children to do something easier, something requiring less drudgery, and so bitterly oppose their following in their fathers' footsteps. On the other hand, many fathers are domineering in their determination that their sons shall follow the same vocation in which they made their success.
Parents are often prejudiced in favor of vocations followed by dear friends or by men whom they greatly admire. A successful lawyer, preacher, engineer, or business man will influence the choice of vocations for the children of many of his admiring friends and acquaintances.
Multitudes of parents have foolish prejudices against any kind of work which soils the hands or clothing--even against the dinner-pail. On the other hand, hard-fisted parents may have prejudices against any vocation which keeps the hands soft and white, and the clothing clean and fine.
Thus, in many ways do the prejudices of parents, based upon ignorance, work tragedy in the lives of children.
Either through a sense of duty and loyalty or because they have not sufficient solid masonry in their backbones, children follow the wishes of their parents and many all but ruin their lives as a result.
"THE LEARNED PROFESSIONS"
One of the most disastrous prejudices upon the part of parents is that in favor of what are called "the learned professions." To make a lawyer, a physician, or a minister of one's son is held to be the highest ambition on the part of large numbers of otherwise intelligent fathers and mothers. The result of this kind of prejudice on the part of so many parents is that the so-called learned professions are over-crowded--and overcrowded with men and women unfitted for their tasks, both by natural inheritance and by education and training. There follows mediocre Work, poor service, low pay, poverty, disease, and misery.
There are traditions in some families which carry their curse along with them down through the generations.
There are families of preachers, families of soldiers, families of lawyers, families of physicians, families of teachers. Many a young man who would have otherwise been a success in the world has toiled along at a poor, dying rate, trying to live up to the family tradition and make a success of himself as a teacher, or lawyer, when he ought to have been a mechanic, an actor, or a banker.
Another form of parental prejudice is a father's desire to have his son become a success in the vocation which he himself longed to enter, but could not. "My father is a successful business man," said a young man to us not long ago. "When he was a young man he wanted to enter law school and practice law, but because of lack of funds and because he had to support his widowed mother's family, he did not have the opportunity. All his life he has regretted that he was unable to realize his ambition. From my earliest years he has talked to me about becoming a great lawyer; he spent thousands of dollars in sending me through high school, college and law school; he has given me years of post-graduate work in law. I have now been trying to practice law for two years and have made a complete failure of it. Yet, so intense is his desire that I shall realize his ambition, that he is willing to finance me, in the hope that, eventually, I may be able to succeed in the practice of law.
And yet I hate it. I hate it so that it seems to me I cannot drive myself ever to enter a law office for another day."
POOR JUDGMENT OF TEACHERS
When bad judgment and prejudice of parents do not interfere with a child's development and his selection of a vocation, he is often turned into wrong channels by the bad judgment of his teacher or teachers. It is natural for many teachers to try to influence their favorite pupils to enter the teaching profession in the same special branch to which the teachers themselves are attached. We once knew a professor of Latin who was an enthusiast on the subject. As the result of his influence, many of his students became teachers of Latin.
Teachers, like parents, also frequently fail to see the indications of aptitude where it is very great.
Like parents, teachers also are oftentimes ignorant of the requirements of work. They are frequently narrow in their training and experience, and therefore do not understand much about practical life, practical work, and practical requirements. Many teachers, even college professors, seem to be obsessed with the idea that a student who learns a subject easily will be successful in making a practical application of it. Not long ago a student in engineering in one of our most prominent universities came to us for consultation. He told us that his professors all agreed that he was well fitted to succeed as an engineer. He, however, had no liking for the profession and did not believe that he would either enjoy it or be successful in it. Our observations confirmed his opinions. It turned out that his instructors thought him qualified for engineering merely from the fact that he learned easily the theoretical principles underlying the practice.
Perhaps one of the most potent causes of misfits in vocation is economic necessity. The time comes in the life of most boys when they must earn their own living or, perhaps, help support the parental family. In such a case, a search is made for a job. Local conditions, friendship, associations, chance vacancies--almost any consideration but that of personal fitness governs in the choice of the job. Once a boy is in a vocation, he is more than likely to remain in it--or, because of unfitness, to drift aimlessly into another, for which he is even less adapted. An entertaining writer in the "Saturday Evening Post" has shown how the boy who accidentally enters upon his career as a day laborer soon finds it impossible to graduate into the ranks of skilled labor. He remains not only a day laborer, but an occasional laborer, his periods of work interspersed with longer and longer periods of unemployment. Unemployment means bad food, unwholesome sanitary conditions and, worst of all, bad mental and moral states. These are followed by disease, incompetency, inefficiency, weakness, and, in time, the man becomes one of the unemployed and unemployable wrecks of humanity.
Crime then becomes practically the only avenue of escape from starvation or pauperism.
Thousands of young men taking a job, no matter how they may dislike the work, feel compelled to remain in it because it is their one hope of income. The longer they remain in it the harder it is for them to make a change. Sad, indeed, is the case of the boy or girl who is compelled, in order to make a living or to help support father, mother, brothers and sisters, to drop into the first vacancy which offers itself.
The restlessness of many a boy and girl results in his or her choice of an utterly wrong vocation. Boys whose parents would be glad to see them through college or technical school cannot wait to begin their careers.
Impatient and restless, they undertake the work which will yield quick results rather than develop their real talents or seek opportunities for advancement of which they are by nature capable. Over and over again those who come to us for consultation say: "Father would have been willing to have put me through school, but I couldn't wait; I simply had to get out and have my own way. I have never ceased to regret it. Now I have to work hard with my hands; with a proper education, and in my right job, I could have used my head." The reader has doubtless heard many such stories from friends and acquaintances. The world is full of misfits who failed of their great opportunity because they were too restless, too impatient, to make proper preparations for their life work. This restlessness, unfortunately, is a characteristic of many of the most energetic, most capable, and most intelligent young people, to whom an education would be worth much, to whom proper training and preparation would bring unusual self-development. It is, therefore, of the highest importance that the young man or young woman and his or her parents or guardian should be especially cautious when there is this feeling of intense eagerness to begin work.
Perhaps one of the most difficult causes of misfits to overcome is versatility. He who can do many things well seems always to have great difficulty in fixing upon any one thing and doing that supremely well. The versatile man is usually fond of variety, changeable, fickle; he loves to have many irons in the fire; he likes to turn from one kind of work to another. It is his great failing that he seldom sticks at any one thing long enough to make a marked success of it. Because of his great versatility, too, he is often a serious problem, even for those who can study his case scientifically. It is difficult to give him counsel and it is even more difficult for him to give heed to that counsel when it has been given. The one hope of the exceedingly versatile individual is to find for himself some vocation which has within it an opportunity for the exercise of many different kinds of talents, and for turning quickly from one kind of work to another. Routine, monotony, detail work, and work which is confining in its character and presents a continual sameness of environment, should be avoided by this type of individual.
MEDIOCRITY AND UNGUESSED TALENTS
The inability to do any one thing particularly well is, in its way, as serious a handicap in the selection of a vocation as great versatility. One who can do nothing well finds it just as hard to decide upon a vocation as one who can do everything well. Perhaps the large majority of those who come to us for consultation do so because they feel that they have no particular talent. Oftentimes this is the case. But frequently there are undeniable talents which have simply never been discovered and never developed. Even in the case of those with no particular talent, there is always some combination of aptitudes, characteristics, disposition, and other circumstances which makes one particular vocation far more desirable than any other. It is most important that the individual with only a moderate inheritance of intelligence and ability should learn to invest his little in the most profitable manner possible.
Those who escape wrong choice of vocation on account of their own bad judgment and errors in selection; who are not turned aside into the wrong path by the bad judgment, prejudices, and other errors of parents; who escape from the clutches of sincere and well-meaning, but unwise, teachers; who are not thrown into the nearest possible vacancies by economic necessity; who do not fall short of their full opportunities because of restlessness; who do not have their problems complicated by too great versatility or too little ability, still have many a rock and shoal to avoid.
BLUNDERS OF EMPLOYERS
One very frequent cause of misfits in vocation is the bad judgment of employers. This bad judgment, like that of parents and teachers, arises from ignorance--ignorance of human nature, of the particular individual, and, strange to say, of the requirements of the work to be done. Whole volumes could be written on the bad judgment of employers in selecting, assigning, and handling their employees. This, however, is not the place for them. Neither is this the place for the discussion of the remedies to be applied.
Even after the young man has entered a vocation and found that he does not fit in it, there is plenty of opportunity for him to make a change if he is made of the right stuff and can secure the right kind of counsel and guidance. But this "IF" is a tremendously big one.
Many causes--both inside and outside of himself--tend to prevent the average man from changing from a vocation for which he is not fit to one in which he is fit. Perhaps a brief consideration of some of these factors in the problem may be of assistance to you.
One reason for continuing in the wrong vocation is social ambition. Rightly or wrongly--probably wrongly--there are certain vocations which entitle one to social recognition. There are others which seem, at least, to make it difficult for one to secure social recognition. Social ambition, therefore, causes many a man to cling desperately to the outskirts of some profession for which he is unfitted, in the everlasting hope of making a success of it and thus winning the social recognition which is his supreme desire.
Poor, short-sighted, and even blind, victims of their own folly!
They do not see that any work which is human service is honorable. They miss the big truth that the man who delivers better goods or renders better service than other men is not only entitled to profit, but also has, by divine right, unassailable social standing.
One of the most potent causes of failure is laziness. And the worst form of the malady is mental laziness.
Once a man is in any line of work, he simply remains there by following the lines of least resistance. It requires, in the first place, hard mental effort to decide upon a new line of work. It requires analysis of work, CHAPTER I
analysis of one's self, of conditions, and of environment, in order to make an intelligent and worthy change.
Not only this, but an advantageous change in vocation usually involves additional study, additional training, hard, grinding work in preparation for the new task. And it is altogether too easy for the lazy man to drift along, mediocre and obscure, in some vocation for which he is poorly fitted than to go through the grueling, hard work of preparing himself for one in which he will find an opportunity for the use and development of his highest and best talents.
LACK OF OPPORTUNITY
Many men do not change their vocations, when they find that they are misfits, because of lack of opportunity.
There may be no real chance for them in the locality where they live and conditions may make it almost impossible for them to leave. Of course, the strong, courageous soul can make its own opportunities.
Theoretically, perhaps, everyone can create circumstances. But, in real life, there are comparatively few strong, courageous souls--few who can mould conditions to their will. Probably, however, the average man could do much more than he does to improve his opportunities were it not for inertia, lack of self-confidence, and lack of courage, all of which he could overcome if he would.
It is oftentimes the case that the man who desires to make a change feels that the only work which would appeal to him is in a profession or trade already overcrowded. This may be true in the locality where he lives, but there is always room for every competent man in any truly useful kind of work. For the man who is well qualified, by natural aptitudes and training, no profession is overcrowded.
LACK OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Many men of intelligence, who, perhaps, know what their calling should be, are compelled to continue in work which is uncongenial and for which they are poorly fitted because of their lack of education and training. Hundreds of men and women come to us, only to find that they have started in the wrong work and have remained in it so long that a change to their true vocation is practically impossible. They have assumed responsibilities which they cannot shirk. The education and training needed would take too long and would cost too much. Yet many have toiled away at night and in odd moments on correspondence courses or in night schools, and have thus, finally, won their way to their rightful places in the work of the world. But at what a cost!
It is of the highest importance that every individual should learn as early as possible in life what career he is best fitted to undertake. Every year spent in mistaken preparation or uncongenial employment makes proper training more expensive and more difficult. There are many arts which, perhaps, cannot be learned properly after one has reached maturity. It is said that no one has ever become a great violinist who did not begin his study of the instrument before the age of twelve. However that may be, psychologists and anatomists agree in informing us that the brain of a human being is exceedingly plastic in childhood, and that it gradually grows more and more impervious to impressions and changes as the individual matures. Sad, indeed, is the case, therefore, of the individual who waits to learn what his vocational fitness is until he is fully mature and is, perhaps, loaded up with the cares and responsibilities of a family, and cannot take either the time or the money to secure an education which his natural aptitude and his opportunities demand.
Many men remain in uncongenial occupations because they lack confidence in themselves. This is distressingly common. Everywhere we find men and women occupying humble positions, doing some obscure work, perhaps actually frittering away their time upon trifles and mere details, doing something which does not require accuracy, care, responsibility, or talent, merely for fear they may not be able to succeed in a career for which they are eminently fitted.
On one occasion a young man of the most undoubted dramatic talent and oratorical ability sought us for counsel. "I have always felt," he said, "a strong inner urge, sometimes almost irresistible, to go upon the platform or the stage. But, because I have lacked confidence in myself, I have always, at the last moment, drawn back. The result is that to-day I am dissatisfied and unhappy in the work I am doing. I do it poorly. I long constantly for an opportunity to express myself in public. Years are going by, I have not developed my talent as I should, and I am beginning to feel that my case is hopeless." This lack of self-confidence is more common by far than many people would imagine. Arthur Frederick Sheldon has said: "Most men accomplish too little because they attempt too little." Our observations incline us to believe that this is the truth. Taking humanity as a whole, far more men fail because they try to do too little than because they try to do too much.
Humanity is a great mine of undiscovered and undeveloped talents. It follows that we fall far short of our best because we do not expect and demand enough of ourselves.
A man came to us for consultation in regard to his vocation. Just why he had come, it afterward turned out, it was hard to see. Perhaps he only wanted to settle matters in his own mind without taking definite action upon them. He was engaged in mercantile business, a business left to him by his father. He hated it. After a careful analysis, we informed him that he had undoubted scientific talents, and that, with training, he could make a name for himself in research and discovery. He was overjoyed at this information, but he manifested no disposition to change his vocation. He said: "Much as I dislike the mercantile business, I hate to change. A change will mean selling out, upsetting my whole mode of life and activity, removing into a different community, beginning a new life in many of its phases. I cannot look forward to such a complete revolution with any degree of pleasure, so I guess I will have to keep along in the old store, much as I would like to devote the rest of my life to test-tubes, crucibles, and scales."
There are many such men. Change is more hateful to them than unloved work. They fall into grooves and ruts.
They would rather continue in their well-worn ways than to go through the mental anguish of breaking old ties, remaking methods of life and work, moving away from friends and relatives, and otherwise changing environment, conditions, and employment.
LACK OF COURAGE
Many men have self-confidence and yet lack courage. That may seem to be a paradoxical statement, but if the reader will study carefully some of the men he knows, he will understand that this is the truth. Men may have plenty of confidence in themselves, but they may lack the courage to face difficulties, to overcome obstacles, to meet hard conditions, to pass through disagreeable experiences. Such are the men who lack the initiative, the push, the aggressiveness, to do as well as they know how, to do as much as they can, to undertake the high achievement for which they have the ability. The cases of such men would be hopeless were it not for the fact that some powerful incentive, like an emergency or necessity, some tremendous enthusiasm, some strong determination, some deep conviction, urges them on to the expression of the fulness of their powers. Lacking even any of these, it is possible for the man who lacks courage to develop it.
Courage is developed by doing courageous acts. The man who feels that he lacks courage, who knows that he needs to forget his fears and his anxieties, has half won his battle. Knowing his deficiencies, he can by the very power of his will compel himself to courageous words and acts, thus increasing and developing his courage and, as a result, his efficiency.
LACK OF AMBITION
Finally, people do not undertake work in their proper vocations because of a lack of ambition. This is, indeed, a fundamental deficiency. Perhaps it underlies many of those we have already described. Certain it is that we usually obtain what we most earnestly and ardently desire. Someone has said that when a man knows CHAPTER I
definitely and in detail just exactly what he desires, he is halfway toward attainment. Now, a man does not know definitely and in detail what he wants unless he wants it so intensely that it is always in his mind; he thinks about it, dreams of it, and paints mental pictures of himself enjoying it; perhaps spends hours in working out the detail of it. When a man has an ambition which drives him on to this kind of mental exercise, he usually has one which overcomes his inertia, burns out his laziness, triumphs over his lack of confidence in himself, urges him out of grooves and ruts, and enables him to overcome deficiencies in education and training, is an incentive to him for the creating of opportunities where none exist, gives him courage for anything, and kindles ever afresh his enthusiasm and determination. There is no obstacle so great that it will not dissolve and vanish away into thin air in the heat of such an overwhelming desire and ambition as this.
We need to remind ourselves, however, that even the most ardent ambition goes astray unless it is guided by accurate knowledge. Many a man has attacked his problem with great courage and high ambition, only to meet defeat because, through lack of knowledge, he has chosen a career for which he was unfitted.
These, then, are some of the reasons people go into and remain in vocations where they do not fit. They are the reasons, also, why so many men are failures or near-failures. Any man is a failure in just the degree in which he falls short of developing and using his best and highest talents and powers.
William James, the psychologist, has said that most men use only a very small percentage of their real abilities. Harrington Emerson, efficiency engineer, says that the average man is only twenty-five per cent efficient and that his inefficiency is due to unfitness for the work he is trying to do. Students of economics say that only ten per cent of all men are truly successful. In this chapter we have presented many of the reasons for the misfit and failure. Some of them are chargeable to parents, teachers, and employers. But the most serious belong rightfully at the door of the individual himself. "The fault, dear Brutus," says Cassius, "is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."
It is highly desirable that parents, teachers, and other guides and advisors of the young should fully inform themselves about human nature and about work. They ought to rid their minds of prejudice and thus free themselves from unwise tradition and useless conventionality. Above all, they need to arouse themselves to the vital importance of ideals--of a clear, definite purpose, based upon accurate knowledge and sound judgment--in other words, upon common sense. This is the vocational problem.
FACTORS OF THE VOCATIONAL PROBLEM
The vocational problem consists, first, of the need of accurate vocational analysis; second, of the need of wise vocational counsel; third, of the need of adequate vocational training; fourth, of the need of correct vocational placement.
It is obvious that the vocational problem cannot be adequately solved by dealing with pupils or clients in groups or classes. It is a definite, specific, and individual problem. Group study is interesting and instructive, but, alone, does not give sufficient knowledge of individual peculiarities and aptitudes. It is obvious from the foregoing analysis of the vocational problem that it is practically identical at all points with the problem of scientific employment. Just as the highest efficiency of the employment department depends upon accurate analysis of the job and of the man, so the highest usefulness of the vocational bureau or vocational counsellor depends upon complete and exact knowledge of the requirements in different lines of endeavor, and the ability to analyze human nature accurately. It is obvious that wise counsel cannot be given, adequate training cannot be prescribed, and correct placement is impossible until these analyses have been properly made.
The child or adult of unusual ability, with well-marked inclinations and strong in the fundamentals of character, is never difficult to analyze, counsel, train, or place. If given an opportunity to gain knowledge, and freedom in the exercise of choice, he will almost surely gravitate into his natural line of work. He is not the real problem of the vocational expert. But the vast majority of children are average, or even mediocre. They CHAPTER II
show little inclination toward any study or any work. They have weaknesses of character that will inevitably handicap them, no matter what vocation they enter. They are the real problem. There is another class, almost equally distressing. They are the people who are brilliant, who learn easily, and who are so adaptable that they can turn their hands to almost anything. They are usually so unstable in temperament that it is difficult for them to persist in any one kind of endeavor long enough to score a success.
METHODS OF ANALYSIS IN USE
The need, in dealing with these problems, for some more reliable guide than the young person's inclinations and preferences has deeply impressed itself upon those engaged in vocational study and vocational work.
They are earnestly seeking to find some better way. To this end, we have the questionaire, by which is brought out between the lines, as it were, the particular aptitudes and disposition of the subject. And this method is not without its advantages. We have also psychological tests. These are of fascinating interest and have yielded some valuable results. Some vocational workers use the psychological tests and some do not. Even those who are most enthusiastic for them admit that they are complicated, that they require expensive apparatus and specially trained examiners, and that even the best results obtainable cover a very narrow field in the character and aptitudes of the subject.
UNIFORM METHOD NEEDED
The present need is for some uniform, readily applicable, inexpensive, and comprehensive method of analysis.
The advantages of such a method are immediately apparent. First, its uniformity would permit the making of records for comparison, covering a very wide range of subjects, environment, and vocations. Second, even the simplest classifications, which are readily learned and easily applied by the inexpert, would yield tangible and measurable results and would be far better than the present unstandardized and wholly unscientific methods.
Third, were such a uniform method adopted and made a part of the vocational work of our institutions; were uniform records to be made and wisely used, we should soon have a body of useful knowledge on this subject.
Fourth, as the result of the application of such a uniform method, text books and charts could be prepared which would form the basis of popular education in vocational guidance.
But this book will find its way into the hands of many whose own vocational problems cry out for solution.
Such need first to know themselves, to know their aptitudes and talents, whether developed or undeveloped.
They need to study vocations--to know everything about the kinds of work they might do, from their requirements to their possibilities twenty, thirty, or forty years in the future. Finally, they need the courage, self-confidence, industry, progressiveness, and ambition to throw off the shackles of circumstance and, in the light of scientific truth, to press forward to the achievement, success, fulness of life, and happiness possible through development and use of all their powers.
ELEMENTS OF FITNESS
In our study are two small pieces of clear white marble. Each of them is decorated with a beautifully designed little flower in natural color. This flower is depicted by the skillful inlaying of semi-precious stones. These marbles came from Agra, India. They are samples of the handiwork which makes the Taj Mahal one of the most beautiful structures in the world. In the fitting of this inlay work the stones--some of them almost as hard as diamonds--are cut and polished to nearly mathematical accuracy of size and shape. But the more carefully CHAPTER II
and exactly these are made, the more badly they fit and the worse failure is the whole design, unless the spaces intended for them in the marble are likewise cut and prepared with nicety and accuracy. In the selecting of a life work, similarly, the same care must be taken in learning accurately the requirements of work--the exact size and shape, as it were, of each vocation--as is spent upon learning the exact qualifications of each individual. Both require common sense and intelligent judgment.
We measure a man's height in centimeters or inches. Pounds and ounces or grams and centigrams offer us exact standards of measuring his weight. But there are no absolute standards for measuring the man himself, and probably there never can be. Human values, therefore, can be standardized only relatively. By the study of large groups we can, however, ascertain approximately the average or normal. In this way, physical standards have been set up as to pulse rate, temperature, respiration, etc. Chemical analysis determines norms of blood composition, and microscopic investigation determines the average number of blood corpuscles per cubic centimeter. The Binet-Simon mental tests are based upon certain approximate averages of intelligence and mental development established in the same way. The Münsterberg associated-word test of intelligence and other psychological experiments are among the efforts made to establish such standards. These are valuable as far as they go and probably yield all the information that their originators claim for them, which, unfortunately, is not a great deal. By time and motion studies, we are enabled to set up standards of efficiency that work out well in practice. All these, however, still leave us in the dark as to the man himself--his honesty, his loyalty, his highest and best values.
ELEMENTS OF THE VOCATIONAL PROBLEM
But, granted for the moment that we could devise and successfully apply exact and accurate standards of measurement for human beings, our work would be only partially done. Any mechanic knows that it is a sad waste of time and pains to standardize tenons, with micrometer and emery paper, to a thousandth of an inch, so long as the mortises are left unstandardized. A valuable man makes an unusual record on the staff of some employer. Other employers immediately begin to lay plans to entice him away. Transferred to another organization, he may prove mediocre, or even undesirable, in his services. Hiring "stars" away from other employers has proved disastrous so many times that the practice is no longer common. Many a flourishing and fruitful tree has been transplanted, only to wither and die--a tragedy involving the tree itself and both orchards. Measured by every known standard, a man thus enticed away may be close to 100 per cent efficient, but the man is only one ingredient in the compound from which results are expected. To know and to rate his aptitudes, abilities, personality, and possibilities is of the highest importance, but these cannot be rated except in relation to his work and to his environment. These are the other two ingredients in the compound. It is quite obvious that all standards for judging men--and for self-analysis--must vary with relation to the work they are to do and the environment in which they are placed.
The important factors of any vocation may be classified very broadly under three heads, namely, nature, position, and requirements. Chart I gives a classification of work, with a few suggestive subdivisions, under each of these three general heads. The meanings of the subdivisions listed under "Nature" and "Position" are clear.
CHART I /Physical |Mental |Combination of Physical and Mental |Professional /Nature..........|Commercial |
|Industrial | |Fine | |Coarse | |Light | \Heavy, etc. | Work....| /Executive |Position........|Subordinate | \Staff | |
/Physical | |Moral | |Intellectual \Requirements....|Emotional |Volitional |Aptitudes |Experience \Training, etc.
Work has its physical requirements as to size, build, strength, endurance, freedom from tendencies to disease, agility, and inherent capacity for manual and digital skill. It may also have certain requirements as to eyesight, hearing, reaction time, muscular co-ordination, sense of touch, and even, in some particular places, sense of smell and sense of taste. Moral requirements may vary from those of a hired gunman to those of a Y.M.C.A.
secretary or a bank cashier.
Intellectual requirements and requirements in aptitudes, experience, and training vary, of course, with every kind of work, and almost with every particular job. One most valuable division of people intellectually is as to capacity of intellect. Some people have fine intellects, capable of great accomplishments in the way of education and training. They are particularly fitted for intellectual work; they have mental grasp; they comprehend; they reason; they have good judgment; they learn easily; they remember well. In every way their intellects are active, energetic, capable. Other people have only moderate intellectual capacity. They express themselves best in physical activity or in the direct, man-to-man handling of others. Their few intellectual activities may be exceedingly keen and accurate--or slow, dull, and vague. People with small intellectual capacity sometimes have remarkable vigor and clearness of mind in some one direction--such as finance, promotion, commerce; judgment of people, horses, cattle, or other living beings; mechanics, invention, music, art, poetry, or some other narrow specialty. Some intellects, in other words, are simply incompetent--others, merely narrow.
People can also be divided, intellectually, into two other classes, the theoretical and the practical. The man with a theoretical intellect is thoughtful, meditative, reflective. His mind works slowly; it is interested in philosophy, in theories, in abstractions, and is capable of dealing with them. On the other hand, it is not particularly well qualified for observing practical things, and for making a practical application of the theories it learns so easily and in which it takes so great an interest. This is the intellect of the philosopher, the dreamer, the educator, the preacher, the writer, the reformer, the poet. This is particularly the intellect of reason, of logic, of ideas and ideals. Whether found amongst the world's leaders or in the lowliest walks of life, its function is always that of dealing with theory, finding out reasons, putting together logical arguments, teaching others and dealing with abstractions. Oftentimes this type of intellect is so impractical that its possessor never possesses anything else. Literature abounds in the tragic tales of philosophers, poets, reformers, and dreamers who starved beautifully and nobly. Every-day life sees thousands more blundering along, either cursing their luck or wondering why Providence withholds its material gifts from people so deserving as they.
Over against this is the practical, matter-of-fact, analytical intellect--the intellect which demands facts and demands them quickly; the intellect which is quick in its operations, impatient, keen, penetrating, intolerant of mere theories and abstractions, not particularly strong in reason and logic, but exceedingly keen and discriminating in regard to the facts. This is the intellect which deals with things, with the material universe, with laws and principles, based upon accurately determined facts. This is the intellect of the preeminently practical man.
Some intellects are particularly fine in critical powers; some have splendid financial ability; some are artistic and musical; some have almost miraculous instinct in mechanical affairs; some are scientific; others are mechanical; still others are inventive. There are many intellects, of course, which combine two or more of these qualities, as, for instance, an intellect blessed with both financial and organizing ability. This is the intellect of the captain of industry, of the multi-millionaire. Then there is the intellect which combines financial, inventive, and organizing ability. This is the intellect of Edison, of Westinghouse, of Curtis, of the Wright brothers, of Marconi, and of Cyrus McCormick. Herbert Spencer was blessed with an intellect capable of both philosophic and scientific thought, both theoretical and practical. Spencer had also great organizing ability, but he devoted it to the organizing of a system of philosophy based upon his scientific researches.
Emotional requirements are many and varied; even more numerous and of greater variety than intellectual requirements, perhaps. Some vocations require great courage, others not; some require a great deal of CHAPTER II
sympathy; others demand a certain hardness and control of the sympathies. There are vocations which require a keen sense of justice; others in which the presence or absence of a sense of justice is not essential. And so, there must be taken into consideration requirements for honor, for love, for loyalty, for dependableness, for enthusiasm, for unselfishness, for caution, for prudence, for religion, for faith, for hope, for optimism, for cheerfulness, for contentment, for earnestness, and for reverence.
THE COMPLEXITY OF HONESTY
Honesty is laid down by all authorities on employment as absolutely essential to success in any vocation, but there are many kinds of honesty and many standards of honesty. As a matter of fact, each man has his own standard of honesty. After all, it is, perhaps, not so much a question of what a man's standards are as how well he lives up to them. We recall, especially, the cases of two men associated together in business. One man set his standards high. Intellectually, he knew the value of ethics in conduct. He truly wished to make practical in his dealings the high principles he admired. But his cupidity was strong and his will and courage were weak, so he oftentimes argued himself, by specious casuistry, into words and acts which were untruthful and dishonest. Oftentimes, indeed, they came dangerously near to actual crimes against the laws of the State. The other man had rather limited standards of honesty. His motto was, "Let the buyer beware!" If those with whom he dealt were as strong and intelligent as he, and he was clever enough to take advantage of them, he regarded the spoils as rightfully his. It was all in the game. "I don't squeal when they catch me napping," he said, "and why should I look out for their interests?" But he never took advantage of the weak, the ignorant, the inexperienced, or the too credulous. His word was as good as gold. His principles were few and intensely practical, and he would willingly lose thousands of dollars rather than violate one of them.
Honesty is a complex virtue. It means, fundamentally, just and honorable intentions. But it involves, also, knowledge of what is right, a keen and discriminating sense of justice, a true sense of values, courage and will-power to carry out honest intentions, and, finally, sufficient earning power to meet all righteous obligations. Dishonest acts result far more often from ignorance, warped sense of justice, inability to appreciate values, cowardice, weak will, or incompetence, than from wrong intent. Whether or not any individual is endowed with the necessary honesty for success in any particular vocation is, therefore, a problem which can be settled only by careful analysis of all its requirements. Law and banking both require a high degree of honesty, but the kinds are different.
THE HIGH QUALITY OF COURAGE
Next to honesty, perhaps, courage is most important. The individual who lacks courage shows no initiative; he has no ability to fight his own battles, to stand by his guns, to assert and maintain his convictions and his rights. He is, therefore, always a misfit in any vocation where he is required to take the initiative, to step out and assume responsibilities, to guide and direct the work of others, to meet others in, competition, to discipline others, to defend himself against the attack of others, to defend the rights of those depending upon him as employees, or stockholders, or partners. He may be excellently qualified as a research worker, an experimenter, an administrator of affairs, a teacher, a writer, a lecturer, an artist, or in almost any kind of work where initiative, aggressiveness, and fighting ability are not prime essentials.
Almost as important in its bearing upon vocational fitness as honesty and courage is prudence. This is the quality which causes men to bear responsibility faithfully; it is that which makes effective in them a sense of duty. It is the emotional quality which leads men to take precautions, to provide against the future. It is that which prevents them from recklessness in expenditure or speculation, from carelessness, from irresponsibility.
It is an absolutely essential quality wherever dependability is required; where one is expected to assume and to carry responsibility, to see that things are done accurately that necessities are provided, that emergencies are prevented.
On the other hand, there are many vocations in which too great prudence, too great caution, is a handicap instead of an advantage. The man who is too cautious, who bears responsibility too heavily, is not fitted for positions and vocations which involve a certain amount of personal danger. He is also likely to be too conservative to enter upon vocations in which a considerable element of speculation is involved. He is not disposed to take chances; he is too apprehensive and too much given to anxiety to be involved in any vocation where there is uncertainty as to outcome. Many vocations also require a fine blending of prudence with a willingness to take chances and a certain degree of recklessness.
THE ELEMENTS OF ENVIRONMENT
Such is any kind of work in which the results are not tangible and immediately and constantly measurable. In our practice we meet many who grow impatient, apprehensive, and even discouraged when knowledge of success of their efforts is deferred--or is even problematical. These people would far rather work in a subordinate position at a small salary, certain to be paid every pay day, than to make twice as much money on a commission basis but not be certain just how much they would be paid on pay day. Thus it is clear that a salesman on a commission basis must have a dash of recklessness in him, and yet, if he is selling high priced goods and wishes to build a permanent business, must be careful and prudent in handling his trade.
The essential elements of environment and their subdivisions are shown in Chart 2. A brief discussion of some of these may clarify the subject.
|Policy of House | |Moral | |Physical |Standards.............< Commercial | |Artistic | |Etc. | | |In Place of Business
|Physical Surroundings.< In Locality | |In Home | | |Personal Preference |Management............< | |Personality | |
|Personal Preference Environment...< Superior Executive....< Personality | |Methods | | |In Business
|Associates............< In Locality | |Socially | | |Hours of Labor | |Periods of Rest | |Temperature | |Compensation
|Working Conditions....< Opportunities | |Underground | |Elevation | |Danger | |Etc.
POLICY AND STANDARDS
For a man faithfully and loyally to live up to and represent the policy of the house is obviously necessary. But oftentimes it takes rather definite characteristics to do this.
Every business institution has, or should have, its moral, commercial, financial, artistic, and other standards with reference to personnel, according to the character of the business and other important considerations.
And the man who contemplates work with any firm will examine himself to see whether he can harmonize happily with these standards. In like manner, every profession and art has its traditional standards and ethics, which should be considered.
In selecting his vocation, the wise man ascertains his fitness for its physical surroundings. Some men cannot work permanently indoors, underground, in a high altitude, in a hot or cold climate, in a damp or a dry climate, in high or low artificial temperature, in the midst of noise or dust or chemical fumes, or by artificial light, or in a locality where certain social advantages do not exist or where satisfactory homes cannot be rented or purchased. Some men are not fitted for city life; others are not fitted for country life. All these and other facts should be taken into consideration with reference to surroundings.
MANAGEMENT AND SUPERIORS
The management of every place has its personal preferences, not based on efficiency. We once knew a CHAPTER II
manager who was so distressed by impediments of speech that he could not endure persons with these peculiarities in his organization, although their manner of speech had nothing to do with the quality of their work. Every manager has some more or less marked idiosyncrasies, and these must be known and studied by prospective employees. The personality of the management and its effect upon the worker under its direction and leadership are other important factors. The manager who is a keen, positive driver will get good results with a certain type of people in his organization, but only with a certain type. The efficiency of every man in the organization is also conditioned very largely upon the personal preferences, personality, and methods of his immediate superior--his foreman, gang-boss, or chief. Certain types of men harmonize and work well together. Other types are antagonistic and discordant. By their very nature they cannot work in the harmony which is essential to efficiency. In making choice of work, the man with good judgment scrutinizes all these important elements.
ASSOCIATES AND SOCIAL ADVANTAGES
Every vocation has its social environment. There are fellow employees, or professional associates, inevitable in the work itself; also the particular class of society fixed by locality, income, or the standing of the vocation.
This chart may seem, at first sight, to be complex. It must necessarily be so, since it is arranged to cover all professions and trades and all industrial and commercial positions, from the presidency of a corporation, general managership of a railroad, sales management of a factory, or cashiership of a bank, as well as less exalted jobs, down to those requiring little, if anything, more than brute strength. Obviously, not all of these facts need to be considered by every aspirant, but only those which have a bearing upon his particular case.
The tendency, however, is to neglect important factors rather than to waste time over those which are unimportant.
PERSONAL ELEMENTS OF THE PROBLEM
Having determined, in the manner indicated, the standards of work and of the environment, the man is ready to examine himself to determine where he fits. There are six headings under which he may classify the various items of information needed in fitting himself to work and environment. These are health, character, intelligence, disposition to industry, natural aptitudes, and experience, as shown in Chart 3. This chart does not, of course, present a complete and detailed list, but it is suggestive. It would not be true to say that any one of these is absolutely more important than the other. They are all important. Their relative importance may be determined by the vocation to be considered.
[Footnote 2: See more detailed lists in appendix.]
Consider the question of health. We include all a man's physical attributes under health. The classification is somewhat arbitrary, but it will be understood. A man must consider himself as to his size, as to his strength, as to his endurance, as to his condition of body (which shows habits), as to his predisposition to health, as to disease, as to his moral health, as to his sobriety, as to his sanity, etc.
|Size |Endurance |Condition of Body In other words, what Health........< Predispositions his physical value is for |Morality a given work in a |Sobriety given environment |Sanity |Etc.
|Honesty |Truthfulness |Loyalty |Discretion and Prudence Character.....< Enthusiasm |Courage |Steadfastness
|Dependability |Etc., etc
|Ability to Learn |Ability to Understand and Follow Instructions |Judgment |Memory |Observation Intelligence..< |Speaking |Expression...< | |Writing |Imagination |Reason |Etc., etc.
|Energy |Love of Work Disposition to Industry < Willingness |Perseverance |Decision |Etc., etc.
|Financial |Commercial |Mechanical |Artistic |Judicial |Executive |Selling |Advertising |Agriculture Natural Aptitudes.......< Medical |Educational |Legal |Engineering |Floricultural |Horticultural |Stock Breeding |Speed