“For the want of the nail, the shoe was lost;
For the want of the shoe, the horse was lost;
For the want of the horse, the rider was lost;
For the want of the rider, the battle was lost;
For the want of the battle, the kingdom was lost—
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail!”
Perhaps the man who bore the title of rider ought to have been charged with the duty of being there with that horseshoe nail, and the man who was only a blacksmith’s helper should have ridden the horse and saved the battle and the kingdom.
It ought not to be difficult for any man or woman to know whether or not he or she is qualified for detail work. The man who enjoys detail and takes pleasure in order, system, accuracy, and exactitude, down to the last dot and hairline, ought to know that he is qualified for detail work and has no business trying to carry on or manage affairs in which there is a considerable element of risk as well as many variables. Strangely enough, however, many of them do not know this, and over and over again we find the detail man wearing himself into nervous prostration in the wrong vocation.
On the other hand, the man who hates routine, grows restive under monotony, is impatient with painstaking accuracy and minute details, ought to know better than to make himself—or to allow himself to be made—responsible for them. And yet, nearly every day someone is coming to us with a complaint about the monotony of his job—how he hates its routine and how often he gets himself into trouble because he neglects or overlooks some little thing.
It ought to be easy enough to tell the difference between these two classes of workers. If you are a brunette, with fairly prominent brows and somewhat sloping forehead, a chin prominent at the lower point and receding upward toward the mouth; if your head is high and square behind; if your fingers are long and square-tipped; if your flesh is elastic or hard in consistency, then you can trust yourself to take responsibility for things in which seeming trifles may be of the highest importance. If, on the other hand, you are blonde or red-haired; if your head is round and dome-shaped just above the temples and round behind; if your nose is prominent and your chin narrow and receding at the lower point; if your flesh is elastic, with a tendency toward softness; if your fingers are short and either square or tapering, then you had better prepare yourself for some vocation where you can deal with large affairs, where you can plan and organize and direct, and let other people work out the details.
The story is told of two soldiers going into battle. Both pushed forward swiftly and eagerly. They were rapidly nearing the danger zone. Already men were falling around them. As they went on, one suddenly looked at the other. “Why,” he cried, “your face is white, your eyes are glazed, your limbs are trembling. I believe you are afraid!”