Having asked concerning any person, "What are his purposes?"
whether of power or fellowship, whether permanent or transitory, whether adjustable or
not, we next ask, "How does he seek their fulfillment?"
"He who wills the end wills the means" is an old saying, but men who will the
same end may will different means. There have been those who used assassination to bring
about reform, and there are plenty who use philanthropy to hasten their egoistic aims. The
nihilist who throws a bomb to bring about an altruistic state is own cousin to the ward
heeler who gives coal to his poor constituents so that his grafting rule may continue.
1. There are those who use the direct route of force to reach their goal of desire and
purpose. They attempt to make no nice adjustments of their wishes to the wishes of others;
the obstacle, whether human or otherwise must get out of their way or be forcibly removed
or destroyed. "A straight line is the shortest distance between two points," and
there is only one absolute law,--"the good old rule, the simple plan that they may
take who have the power and they may keep who can." The individuals who react this
way to obstacles are choleric, passionate, egoistic and in the last analysis somewhat
brutal. This is especially true if they seek force at first, for with nearly all of us
extreme provocation or desperation brings direct-action measures.
Conspicuously those accustomed to arbitrary power use this method. They have grown
accustomed to believing that their will or wish is a cause, able to remove obstacles of
all kinds. When at all opposed the angry reaction is extreme, and they tend to violence at
once. The old-fashioned home was modeled in tyranny, and the force reaction of the father
and husband to his children and wife was sanctioned by law and custom. The attitude of the
employer to employee, universally in the past and still prominent, was that of the master,
able in ancient times to use physical punishment and in our day to cut off a man's
livelihood if he showed any rebellion. In a larger social way War is crude brute force,
and those who delude themselves that the God of victory is a righteous God have read
history with a befoozled mind. Force, though the world rests on it, is a terrible weapon
and engenders brutality in him who uses it and rebellion, hate and humiliation in him upon
whom it is used. It is an insult to the dignity and worth of the human being. It must be
used for disciplining purposes only,--on children, on the criminal, and then more to
restrain than to punish. It cannot disappear from the world, but it should be minimized.
Only the sentimentalized believe it can disappear entirely, only the brutal rejoice in its
use. Force is a crude way of asserting and obtaining superiority; the gentle hate to use
it, for it arouses their sympathy for their opponent. Whoever preaches force as the first
weapon in any struggle is either deluded as to its value or an enemy of mankind.
As a non-inhibited response, force and brutality appear in the mentally sick. General
paresis, cerebral arterio-selerosis, alcoholic psychoses present classical examples of the
impatient brutal reaction, often in men hitherto patient and gentle.
2. Strategy or cunning appears as a second great method of obtaining the fulfillment of
one's purposes. We all use strategy in the face of superior or equal power, just as we
tend to use force confronted by inferiority. There is of course a legitimate use of
cunning, but there is also an anti-social trend to it, quite evident in those who by
nature or training are schemers. The strategist in love, war or business simulates what he
does not feel, is not frank or sincere in his statements and believes firmly that the end
justifies the means. He uses the indirect force of the lie, the slander, insinuation --he
has no aversion to flattery and bribery--he uses spies and false witnesses. He is a
specialist in the unexpected and seeks to lull suspicion and disarms watchfulness, waiting
for the moment to strike. Sometimes he weaves so tangled a web that he falls into it
himself, and one of the stock situations in humor, the novel and the stage is where the
cunning schemer falls into the pit he has dug for others. In his highest aspect he is the
diplomat; in his lowest he is the sneak. People who are weak or cowardly tend to the use
of these methods, but also there is a group of the strong who hate direct force and rather
like the subtler weapons.
The strategist tends to be quite cynical, and his effect on his fellow men is to
increase cynicism and pessimism. They who have suffered through the schemer grow to
suspect their fellows under any guise. They become suspicious and hard, determined never
to trust any one again. Indeed, practical wisdom to a large extent is the wisdom of
strategy and is full of mottoes and proverbs inculcating non-generous ideals. When people
have been "fooled" or misled, the most valuable of the social cementing
qualities, faith in one's fellows, is weakened. Despite the disintegrating effect of
unscrupulous shrewdness, it is common enough to hear men say of a successful votary of the
art, "Well, I give him credit. He is a very clever fellow, and he has brought home
the bacon." Success is so highly prized and admired that the means of obtaining it
becomes secondary in the eyes of the majority.
3. The role of speech in the relationships of human beings is of course too great to be
over-estimated. Speech becomes the prime weapon in swaying and molding the opinions and
acts of others. It is the medium of the threat of force and the stratagem of cunning, but
also it enters human life as the medium of persuasion and conviction. The speech ability,
the capacity to use words in attaining purpose, shows as striking variations as any other
Though a function of intelligence, the power to speak (and write) convincingly and
easily, is not at all related to other phases of intelligence. Though it can be
cultivated, good verbalism is an innate ability, and a most valuable one. The power to
speak clearly so as to express what is on one's own mind is uncommon, as any one can
testify who has watched people struggling to express themselves. "You know" is a
very frequent phrase in the conversation of the average man, and he means that, "My
words are inadequate, but you know what I mean." The delight in the good writer or
speaker is that he relieves other people's dissatisfaction in their own inadequate
expression by saying what they yearn to say for themselves, thus giving them a vicarious
But the power of clear expression is not at all the power of persuasion, although it
may be a part of it. One may clearly express himself and antagonize others. The persuader
seeks to discover the obstacles to agreement with him in the minds of others and to remove
or nullify them. He may seek to do this by a clear exposition of his wishes and desires,
by showing how these will benefit the others (or at least not harm them), by meeting
logically or otherwise the objections and demonstrating their futility. This he will
attempt, if he is wise and practical, only in a limited group or among those who are
keen-minded and open to reason. Even with them he will have to kindle and maintain their
interest, and he must arouse a favorable emotional state.
This latter is the principal goal in persuasion. Every good speaker or writer who seeks
to reach the mass of people needs the effect of the great feelings--of patriotism,
sympathy and humor--needs flattery, gross or subtle, makes people laugh or smile or feel
kindly disposed to him before he attempts to get their cooperation. He must place himself
on their level, be regarded as one of them; fellowship and the cooperative tendencies must
be awakened before logic will have value.
The persuader cuts his cloth to suit his case. He is a psychologist of the intuitive
type. He may thunder and scold if he finds in his audience, whether numbering one or a
million, a tendency to yield to authority, and he then poses as that authority, handing
out his dicta in an awe-inspiring fashion. He will awaken the latent trend to ridicule and
scoffing by pointing out inconsistency in others, or he may awaken admiration for his
fairness and justice by lauding his opponent, taking care not to overdo it.
Persuasion is often a part of scheming, rarely is it used by the forceful, except in
the authoritative way or to arouse anger against the opponent. It is the weapon of those
who believe in democracy, for all exposition has persuasion as its motive. A statement
must not only be true to others,--to the mass. Therefore persuasion as applied to the
great mass of people is rarely closely knit or a fine exposition of truth and historical
evolution; that one must leave for the highbrow book or treatise. It is passionate and
pleading; it thunders and storms; it has wit and humor; it deals with symbols and
analogies, it plays on the words of truth, justice, ideals, patriotism. It may be honest
and truthful, but it cannot be really accurate or of high intellectual value.
And the persuasion that seeks private ends from private audiences "sizes" up
its audience as a preliminary. The capacity to understand others and to sway them, to
impress them according to their make-up, is a trait of great importance for success or
failure. It needs cultivation, but often it depends on a native sociability, a
friendliness and genuine interest, on a "good nature" that is what it literally
purports to be,--good nature. Though many of the persuasive kind are insincere and
selfish, I believe that on the whole the taciturn and gruff are less interested in their
fellows than the talkative and cordial.
The persuasive person has a touch of the fighting spirit in the trait called
aggressiveness. He is rarely shy or retiring. To do well, he must be prepared for rebuffs,
and he is possessed of a species of courage and resistance against refusal and
humiliation. In the highest form the persuader is a teacher and propagandist, changing the
policy of peoples; in the commonest form he is a salesman, seeking to sell a commodity; in
the lowest he is the faker, trying to hoodwink the credulous.
4. The strong, the crafty, the talkers each seek fulfillment of purpose from an equal
or higher level than their fellows. But power and fulfillment may be reached at from a
lower level, from the beggar's position, from the place of weakness. There are some whose
existence depends upon the response given to their supplications, who throw themselves
directly on the charity and tender-heartedness of society. Inefficient, incapable of
separate existence, this parasitic class is known to every social service group, to every
rich or powerful man who helps at least in part to maintain them. I do not mean those who
are physically or intellectually unable to cope with the world; these are merely
unfortunate. I mean those whose energy and confidence is so low, or whose lack of pride is
such that they are willing to ask for help continually rather than make their own way.
There is, however, a very interesting type of person who uses weakness as a weapon to
gain a purpose, not support. The tears of many women have long been recognized as potent
in that warfare that goes on between the sexes; the melting of opposition to the whim or
wish when this manifestation of weakness is used is an old story. The emotional display
renders the man uncomfortable, it disturbs him, he fears to increase it lest the opponent
become sick, his conscience reproaches him, and he yields rather than "make a
fuss." Tears can be replaced by symptoms of a hysteric nature. I do not mean that
these symptoms are caused by the effort to win, but they become useful and are made
habitual. Nor is this found only in woman; after an accident there are men in plenty whose
symptoms play a role in securing compensation for themselves, not necessarily as
malingerers. It is in human nature to desire the sympathy of others, and in some cases
this sympathy is sought because through sympathy some other good will be forthcoming,--a
new dress, a lump sum of money, or merely securing one's own way. Very noticeably do
children tend to injure themselves if crossed; anger tends to turn on itself, and the
effect on the other party is soon realized, and often utilized. A child may strike its
head against the floor without any other motive than that arising from hopeless anger, but
if this brings the parents to their knees, the association is made and the experience
becomes part of the working technique of the child.
 This turning of anger upon itself is a factor in self-destruction. It is seen, so
the naturalists say, in the snake and the asp, and it is common in human relations.
5. There is in man an urge to activity independent of reward save in the satisfaction
that comes from that activity. This current is organized into work, and the goal becomes
achievement. The most powerful factor in discharging the energies of man is the desire for
achievement. Wealth, superiority, power, philanthropy, renown, safety and pleasure
enormously reinforce this purpose, but behind the GOOD work of the world is the passion to
create, to make something, to mold the resisting forces of nature into usefulness and
beauty. Handicraftsman, artist, farmer, miner, housewife, writer,--all labor contradicts
the legend that work is a curse. To gain by work, to obtain desires through labor, is a
method of attainment that is a natural ideal of man.
This makes opportune a discussion of the work-traits. Since ours is an industrial
society, in which the work of a member is his means of obtaining not only respect, but a
living, these traits are largely those by which he is judged and by which he judges
Since work for some is their life and for others their means of obtaining a living, it
is obvious that the work-traits may be all the traits of the individual, or only a few of
them. Certain traits are especially important, and to these we must limit ourselves.
The energy of the individual. Some are so constituted that they can constantly
discharge their energy at a high rate. These are the dynamics, the hyperkinetic, the
Rooseveltian--strenuous--the busy people, always able to do more. The modern American life
holds this type as an ideal, though it is quite questionable whether these rather
over-busy people do not lose in reflective and creative ability. The rushing stream turns
the wheels of the mills, but it is too strenuous for stately ships. This type however
achieves things, is seen often in the fine executive and usually needs no urging.
There is another fine type not so well adapted to our civilization, which is easily
exhausted, but can accomplish very much in a short time; in other words discharges energy
intermittently at a high rate. Charles Darwin was of this kind--intermittently
hyperkinetic --obliged to rest after an hour's labor, but by understanding this, WILLING
to rest. Unfortunately, unless one is a genius or rich, industry does not make allowances
for this type. Industry is organized on steadiness of energy discharge,--eight hours every
day, six days a week.
The commonest type is the "average" person who is capable of moderately
intense but constant activity. This is the steady man and woman; it is upon this
steadiness that the whole factory--shop system--is based. That this steadiness deadens,
injures vivacity and makes for restlessness, is another matter.
A distinctly pathological type is found in some feebleminded and some high mentalities.
This unfortunate discharges energy at a low rate is slow in action and often intermittent
as well as hypokinetic. The loafer and the tramp are of this type. Around the water front
of the seaports one can find the finest specimens who do odd jobs for as much as will pay
for lodging and food and drink. Perhaps the order of the desired rewards should be
reversed. Every village furnishes individuals of this group, either unable or unwilling to
work consecutively or with energy. Often purposeless day-dreamers or else bereft of normal
human mentality, these are the chronically unemployed of our social- industrial system.
It must be remembered that to work steadily every day and in the same place is not an
innate circumstance of man's life. For the untold centuries before he developed into an
agriculturist and a handicraftsman, he sought his food and his protection in the simplest
way and with little steady labor. Whether as hunter or fisher or nomad herdsman, he lived
in the open air, slept in caves or in rudely constructed shelters and knew nothing of
those purposes that keep men working from morning till night. It's a long way from
primitive man and his occupations, with their variety and their relaxations, to the
factory hand, shut up in a shop all day and doing just one thing year in and year out, to
the housewife with her multitudinous, never-ending tasks within four walls, to the
merchant engrossed with profit and loss, weighing, measuring, buying, selling and worrying
without cessation. The burden of steadiness in labor is new to the race, and it is only
habit, necessity and social valuation that keeps most men to their wheel.
We would, I think, be oversentimental in our treatment of this subject if we omitted
two hugely important factors in work character. Two powerful motives operate,--the
necessity of working and work as an escape from ourselves.
Not much need be said of the pressure of necessity. "To eat one must work."
This sentence condenses the threat behind most of the workers of the world. They cannot
stop if they would--for few are those, even in prosperous communities, who have three
months of idleness in their savings. The feeling of insecurity this fact brings makes a
nightmare out of the lives of the many, for to the poor worker the charity organization is
part of the penalty to be paid for sickness or unemployment. To my mind there are few
things more pathetic than a good man out of a job, and few things for which our present
society can be so heartily damned. Few even of the middle class can rest; their way of
living leaves them little reserve, and so they plug along, with necessity as the spur to
To escape ourselves! Put any person of adult age, or younger, in a room with nothing to
do but think, and you reduce him to abject misery and restlessness. Most of our reading,
entertainment, has this object, and if necessity did not spur men on to work steadily, the
tedium of their own thoughts would. To reflect is pleasant only to a few, and the need of
a task is the need of the average human being. Perhaps once upon a time in some idyllic
age, some fabled age of innocence, time passed pleasantly without work. To-day, work is
the prime way of killing time, adding therefore to its functions of organizing activity,
achievement and social value of recreation.
Yet contradictory as it seems, though many of us love work for its own sake, most of us
do not love our own work. That is because few of us choose our work; it is thrust upon us.
Happy is he who has chosen and chosen wisely!
Industry, energy, steadiness are parts of the work-equipment; enthusiasm, eagerness,
the love of work, in short, is another part. Love of work is not a unitary character; it
is a resultant of many forces and motives. Springing from the love of activity, it
receives its direction from ambition and is reinforced by success and achievement. Few can
continue to love a work at which they fail, for self-love is injured and that paralyzes
the activity. Here and there is some one who can love his work, even though he is
half-starved as a result,--a poet, a novelist, an inventor, a scientist, but these dream
and hope for better things. But the bulk of the half-starved labor of the world,
half-starved literally as well as symbolically, has no light of hope ahead of it and
cannot love the work that does not offer a reward. It is easy for those who reap pleasure
and reward from their labors to sing of the joy of work; business man, professional man,
artist, handicraftsman, farmer,--these may find in the thing they do the satisfaction of
the creative desires and the reward of seeing their product; but the factory is a
Frankenstein delivering huge masses of products but eating up the producers. The more
specialized it becomes the less each man creates of the unit, machine or ornament; the
less he feels of achievement. Go into a cotton mill and watch the machines and their less
than human attendants at their over-specialized tasks. Then ask how such workers can take
any joy in work? Let us say they are paid barely enough to live upon. What food does the
desire for achievement receive? What feeds the love of the concrete finished product of
which a man can proudly say, "I did it!" The restlessness of this thwarted
desire is back of much of that social restlessness that puzzles, annoys and angers the
better-to-do of the world. As the factory system develops, as "efficiency"
removes more and more of the interest in the task, social unrest will correspondingly
increase. One of the great problems of society is this:
How are we to maintain or increase production and still maintain the love of work? To
solve this problem will take more than the efficiency expert who works in the interest of
production alone; it will take the type of expert who seeks to increase human happiness.
Native industry, the love of work are variables of importance. No matter what social
condition we evolve, there will be some who will be "slackers," who will regard
work as secondary to pleasure, who will take no joy or pride in the finished product, who
will feel no loyalty to their organization; and vice versa, there will be those working
under the most adverse conditions who will identify themselves, their wishes and purposes
with "the job" and the product. Nowhere are the qualities of persistent effort
and interest of such importance as in industry, and nowhere so well rewarded.
In the habits of efficiency we have a group of mechanically performed actions and
stereotyped reactions essential for work. Except in certain high kinds of work, which
depend upon originality and initiative, method, neatness and exactness are essential.
"Time is money" in most of the business of the world; in fact time is the great
value, since in it life operates. The unmethodical and untidy waste time as well as offend
the esthetic tastes, as well as directly lose material and information. The habits in this
sense are the tools of industry, though exactness may be defined as more than a tool,
since it is also part of the final result. He whose work-conscience permits him to be
inexact, permits himself to do less than his best and in that respect cheats and steals.
The work-conscience is as variably developed as any other type of conscience. There are
those who are rogues in all else but not in their work. They will not turn out a bad piece
of work for they have identified the best in them with their work. Contrariwise, there are
others who are punctilious in all other phases of morality who are slackers of an easy
standard in their work efforts. This is as truly a double standard of morals as anything
in the sex sphere,--and as disastrous.
There is on every second wall in America the motto typical of our country, "Do it
now!" To it could be added a much better one, "Do it well!" The energy of
work and its promptness are only valuable when controlled by an ideal of service and
thoroughness. A great part of the morals of the world is neglected; part of the
responsibility is not felt, in that a code of work is yet to be enunciated in an
authoritative way. I would have it shown graphically that all inefficiency is a social
damage with a boomerang effect on the inefficient and careless, and in the earliest
school, teaching the need of thoroughness would be emphasized. Our schools are tending in
the other direction; the curriculum has become so extensive that superficiality is
encouraged, the thorough are penalized, and "to get away with it" is the motto
of most children as a result.
In an ideal community every man and woman will be evaluated as to intelligence and
skill, and a place found accordingly. Since we live a few centuries too soon to see that
community, since jobs are given out on a sort of catch-as-catch-can plan, it would be
merely a counsel of perfection to urge some such method.
Nevertheless ambitious parents, whose means or whose self-sacrifice enable them to plan
careers for their children, should take into solemn account, not their own ambitions, but
the ability of the child. A man is apt to see in his son his second self and to plan for
him as for a self that was somehow to succeed where he failed. But every tub in the ocean
of human life must navigate on its own bottom, and a father's wishes will not make a poet
into a banker or a fool into a philosopher. Nothing is so disastrous to character as to be
misplaced in work, and there is as much social inefficiency in the high-grade man in the
low-grade place as when the low-grade man occupies a high-grade place. We have no means of
discovering originality, imagination or special ability in our present-day psychological
tests, and we cannot measure intensity of purpose, courage and the quality of interest.
Yet watching a child through its childhood and its adolescence ought to tell us whether it
is brilliant or stupid, whether it is hand-minded or word-minded, whether it is brave,
loyal, honest, a leader or a follower, etc. Moreover, the child's inclinations should play
a part in the plans made. A man who develops a strong will where his desires lead the way
will hang back and be a slacker where dissatisfaction is aroused.
To that employer of labor who seeks more than dividends from his "hands," who
has in mind that he is merely an agent of the community, and is not obsessed with the idea
that he is "boss," I make bold to make the following suggestions:
Any plan of efficiency must be based on sympathy and human feeling. To avoid
unnecessary fatigue is imperative, not only because it increases production, but because
it increases happiness. Fatigue may have its origin in little matters,--in a bad bench, in
a poor work table, or an inferior tool. Chronic fatigue alters character; the drudge
and slave are not really human, and if your workers become drudges, to that degree have
you lapsed from your stewardship. Men react to fatigue in different ways: one is merely
tired, weak and sleepy --a "dope," to use ordinary characterization--but another
becomes a dangerous rebel, ready to take fire at any time.
 The Gilbreths have written an excellent little book on this subject. Doctor Charles
E. Myers' recent publication, "Mind and Work," is less explicit, but worth
More important than physical fatigue (or at least as important) is the fatigue of
monotony. If your shop is organized on a highly mechanical basis, then the worker must be
allowed to interrupt his labors now and then, must have time for a chat, or to change his
position or even to lie down or walk. Monotony disintegrates mind and body--disintegrates
character and personality--brings about a fierce desire for excitement; and the well-known
fact that factory towns are very immoral is no accident, but the direct result of monotony
and opportunity. It's bad enough that men and women have to become parts of the machine
and thus lowered in dignity, worth and achievement; it is adding cruelty to this to
whitewash windows, prohibit any conversation and count every movement. Before you may
expect loyalty you must deserve it, and the record of the owners of industry warrants no
great loyalty on the part of their employees. Annoying restrictions are more than
injuries; they are insults to the self-feeling of the worker and are never forgotten or
That a nation is built on the work of its people--their steadiness, energy, originality
and intelligence, is trite. That anything is really gained by huge imports and exports
when people live in slums and have their creative work impulses thwarted is not my idea of
value. Factories are necessary to a large production and a large population, but the idea
of quantity seems somehow to have exercised a baleful magic on the minds of men. England
became "great" through its mills, and its working people were starved and
stunted, body and soul. Of what avail are our Lawrences and Haverhills when we learn that
in the draft examinations the mill towns showed far more physical defects, tuberculosis
and poor nutrition than the non-factory towns?
Work is the joy of life, because through it we fulfill purposes of achievement and
usefulness. Society must have an organization to fit the man to his task and his task to
the man; it must organize its rewards on an ethical basis and must find the way to
eliminate unnecessary fatigue and monotony. The machine which increases production
decreases the joy of work; we cannot help that, therefore society must at least add other
rewards to the labor that is robbed of its finest recompense.
A counsel of perfection! The sad part is that books galore are written about the ways
of changing, but meanwhile the law of competition and "progress" adds machines
to the world, still further enslaving men and women. We cannot do without machines,--nor
can we do without free men and women. The fact is that competition is a spur to production
and to industrial malpractice, since the generous employer must adopt the tactics of his
competitors whether in a Southern mill town or in Japan.
I must confess to a feeling of disgust when I read preachments on the joys of work, on
consecrating one's self to one's task. I can do that, because I do about what I please and
when I please, and so do you, Mister Preacher, and so do the exceptional and the able and
the fortunate here and there and everywhere. But this is mathematically and socially
impossible for the great majority, and unless a plan of life fits that majority it is best
to call the plan what it is,--an aristocratic creed, meant for the more able and the more