Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/81

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77
TRAINING FOR ACTION

or for mathematics. Some have five talents and some have one. And no one would expect a young man to earn his living by means of his native musical ability without first training him to make full use of that ability. An aptitude for figures does not mean that the possessor does not need to study mathematics. That is probably what he should study most diligently. Furthermore, the discovery of nature’s gifts of musical ability is not postponed until the talent is atrophied. The fond parent seeks it early and eagerly develops even a minute resemblance of talent. Why, then, is it so frequent that young men go out from school or college with no dream of their own potentialities as executives?

Specific illustrations are perhaps unnecessary, though one or two may add force to the argument. A young man, after a fine record for scholarship in high school, took up a course of scientific study in college. He found the field so alluring that he went on to a university course, taking his degree of Doctor of Philosophy with a careful and thorough research requiring a marvelous technique of manipulation. So promising was his ability that a large corporation at once engaged him to continue his work in a direction which meant much for the future of the concern. The young man found himself suddenly in an embarrassing situation. No longer was it necessary for him to spend hours searching the scientific literature for the history of a certain process; he need only direct an assistant to do this for him. The tedious watching for the results of an experiment was transferred to a subordinate. The careful manipulation of materials could be taught to an eager stripling whose idea of the significance of his work was at best vague and narrow. In the meantime the young scientist found that the direction in which he was inclined was not that of the executive, but that of the student. In a word, his education had not prepared him for the work expected of him.

A rude awakening came for another young man who had recently taken the degree of Civil Engineer. He could make long computations of stresses in girders for steel work, he could lay out beautiful curves for a railway line, but all his years of college had not trained him in the very practical problem of keeping busy and happy a party of sixty additions to the melting pot, knights of the pick and shovel. Where do the text-books state that a young engineer should never allow such an occasion to arise that one of his dusky foremen calls him by the short and ugly name, or that, the occasion having arisen, he should promptly apply a sedative by means of a convenient pickaxe handle if he wishes to maintain his self-respect and his job?

It has been claimed that plenty of opportunity is already given in school and college for the development of executive ability, both in the curriculum and in outside activities, that those men who wish training