Naturally, when a young fellow steps up into a big position, it breeds jealousy among those whom he’s left behind and uneasiness among those to whom he’s pulled himself up. Between them he’s likely to be subjected to a lot of petty annoyances. But he’s in the fix of a dog with fleas who’s chasing a rabbit—if he stops to snap at the tickling on his tail, he’s going to lose his game dinner.
Even as temporary head of the lard department you’re something of a pup, and where there’s dog there’s fleas. You’ve simply got to get used to them, and have sense enough to know that they’re not eating you up when they’re only nibbling a little at your hide. And you don’t want to let any one see that a flea-bite can worry you, either. A pup that’s squirming and wriggling and nosing around the seat of the trouble whenever one of his little friends gets busy, is kicked out into the cold, sad night in the end. But a wise dog lies before the fire with a droop in his ear and a dreamy look in his eyes until it gets to the point where he can’t stand ’em any longer. Then he sneaks off under the dining-room table and rolls them out into the carpet.
There are two breeds of little things in business—those that you can’t afford to miss and those that you can’t afford to notice. The first are the details of your own work and those of the men under you. The second are the little tricks and traps that the envious set around you. A trick is always so low that a high-stepper can walk right over it.
When a fellow comes from the outside to an important position with a house he generally gets a breathing-space while the old men spar around taking his measure and seeing if he sizes up to his job. They give him the benefit of the doubt, and if he shows up strong and shifty on his feet they’re apt to let him alone. But there isn’t any doubt in your case; everybody’s got you sized up, or thinks he has, and those who’ve been over you will find it hard to accept you as an equal, and those who’ve been your equals will be slow to regard you as a superior. When you’ve been Bill to a man, it comes awkward for him to call you mister. He may do it to your face, but you’re always Bill again when you’ve turned the corner.
Of course, everybody’s going to say you’re an accident. Prove it. Show that you’re a regular head-on collision when anything gets in your way. They’re going to say that you’ve got a pull. Prove it—by taking up all the slack that they give you. Back away from controversy, but stand up stubborn as a mule to the fellow who’s hunting trouble. I believe in ruling by love, all right, but it’s been my experience that there are a lot of people in the world whom you’ve got to make understand that you’re ready to heave a brick if they don’t come when you call them. These men mistake kindness for weakness and courtesy for cowardice. Of course, it’s the exception when a fellow of this breed can really hurt you, but the exception is the thing