From: How To Succeed
Doing well depends upon doing completely.
He who does well will always have patrons enough.
If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or
make a better mouse-trap than his neighbor, though he build his
house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his
I hate a thing done by halves. If it be right, do it boldly; if
it be wrong, leave it undone.
No two things differ more than Hurry and Dispatch. Hurry is the
mark of a weak mind, Dispatch of a strong one. * * * Like a
turnstile, he (the weak man) is in everybody's way, but stops
nobody; he talks a great deal, but says very little; looks into
everything, but sees nothing; and has a hundred irons in the
fire, but very few of them are hot, and with those few that are
he only burns his fingers.
"Make me as good a hammer as you know how," said a carpenter to the
blacksmith in a New York village before the first railroad was built;
"six of us have come to work on the new church, and I've left mine at
home." "As good a one as I know how?" asked David Maydole, doubtfully,
"but perhaps you don't want to pay for as good a one as I know how to
make." "Yes, I do," said the carpenter, "I want a good hammer."
It was indeed a good hammer that he received, the best, probably, that
had ever been made. By means of a longer hole than usual, David had
wedged the handle in its place so that the head could not fly off, a
wonderful improvement in the eyes of the carpenter, who boasted of his
prize to his companions. They all came to the shop next day, and each
ordered just such a hammer. When the contractor saw the tools, he
ordered two for himself, asking that they be made a little better than
those for his men. "I can't make any better ones," said Maydole; "when I
make a thing, I make it as well as I can, no matter whom it is for."
The storekeeper soon ordered two dozen, a supply unheard of in his
previous business career. A New York dealer in tools came to the village
to sell his wares, and bought all the storekeeper had, and left a
standing order for all the blacksmith could make. David might have grown
very wealthy by making goods of the standard already attained; but
throughout his long and successful life he never ceased to study still
further to perfect his hammers in the minutest detail. They were usually
sold without any warrant of excellence, the word "Maydole" stamped on
the head being universally considered a guaranty of the best article the
world could produce. Character is power, and is the best advertisement
in the world.
"Yes," said he one day to the late James Parton, who told this story, "I
have made hammers in this little village for twenty-eight years."
"Well," replied the great historian, "by this time you ought to make a
pretty good hammer."
"No, I can't," was the reply, "I can't make a pretty good hammer. I make
the best hammer that's made. My only care is to make a perfect hammer.
If folks don't want to pay me what they're worth, they're welcome to buy
cheaper ones somewhere else. My wants are few, and I'm ready any time to
go back to my blacksmith's shop, where I worked forty years ago, before
I thought of making hammers. Then I had a boy to blow by bellows, now I
have one hundred and fifteen men. Do you see them over there watching
the heads cook over the charcoal furnace, as your cook, if she knows
what she is about, watches the chops broiling? Each of them is hammered
out of a piece of iron, and is tempered under the inspection of an
experienced man. Every handle is seasoned three years, or until there is
no shrink left in it. Once I thought I could use machinery in
manufacturing them; now I know that a perfect tool can't be made by
machinery, and every bit of the work is done by hand."
"In telling this little story," said Parton, "I have told thousands of
stories. Take the word 'hammer' out of it, and put 'glue' in its place,
and you have the history of Peter Cooper. By putting in other words, you
can make the true history of every great business in the world which has
lasted thirty years."
"We have no secret," said Manager Daniel J. Morrill, of the Cambria Iron
Works, employing seven thousand men, at Johnstown, Pa. "We always try to
beat our last batch of rails. That is all the secret we've got, and we
don't care who knows it."
"I don't try to see how cheap a machine I can produce, but how good a
machine," said the late John C. Whitin, of Northbridge, Mass., to a
customer who complained of the high price of some cotton machinery.
Business men soon learned what this meant; and when there was occasion
to advertise any machinery for sale, New England cotton manufacturers
were accustomed to state the number of years it had been in use and add,
as an all-sufficient guaranty of Northbridge products, "Whitin make."
Put thoroughness into your work: it pays.
"The accurate boy is always the favored one," said President Tuttle. If
a carpenter must stand at his journeyman's elbow to be sure his work is
right, or if a cashier must run over his bookkeeper's columns, he might
as well do the work himself as employ another to do it in that way.
"Mr. Girard, can you not assist me by giving me a little work?" asked
one John Smith, who had formerly worked for the great banker and
attracted attention by his activity.
"Assistance--work--ah? You want work?" "Yes sir; it's a long time since
I've had anything to do."
"Very well, I shall give you some. You see dem stone yondare?" "Yes,
sir." "Very well; you shall fetch and put them in this place; you see?"
"Yes sir." "And when you done, come to me at my bank."
Smith finished his task, reported to Mr. Girard, and asked for more
work. "Ah, ha, oui. You want more work? Very well; you shall go place
dem stone where you got him. Understandez? You take him back." "Yes,
Again Smith performed the work and waited on Mr. Girard for payment.
"Ah, ha, you all finish?" "Yes, sir." "Very well; how much money shall I
give you?" "One dollar, sir." "Dat is honest. You take no advantage.
Dare is your dollar." "Can I do anything else for you?" "Oui, come here
when you get up to-morrow. You shall have more work."
Smith was punctual, but for the third time, and yet again for the
fourth, he was ordered to "take dem stone back again." When he called
for his pay in the evening Stephen Girard spoke very cordially. "Ah,
Monsieur Smit, you shall be my man; you mind your own business and do
it, ask no questions, you do not interfere. You got one vife?" "Yes,
sir." "Ah, dat is bad. Von vife is bad. Any little chicks?" "Yes, sir,
"Five? Dat is good; I like five. I like you, Monsieur Smit; you like to
work; you mind your business. Now I do something for your five little
chicks. There: take these five pieces of paper for your five little
chicks; you shall work for them; you shall mind your own business, and
your little chicks shall never want five more." In a few years Mr. Smith
became one of the wealthiest and most respected merchants of
It is difficult to estimate the great influence upon a life of the early
formed habit of doing everything to a finish, not leaving it half done,
or pretty nearly done, but completely done. Nature finishes every little
leaf, even to every little rib, its edges and stem, as exactly and
perfectly as though it were the only leaf to be made that year. Even the
flower that blooms in the mountain dell, where no human eye will ever
behold it, is finished with the same perfection and exactness of form
and outline, with the same delicate shade of color, with the same
completeness of beauty, as though it was made for royalty in the queen's
garden. "Perfection to the finish" is a motto which every youth should
"How did you attain such excellence in your profession?" was asked of
Sir Joshua Reynolds. "By observing one simple rule, namely, to make each
picture the best," he replied.
The discipline of being exact is uplifting. Progress is never more rapid
than it is when we are studying to be accurate. The effort educates all
the powers. Arthur Helps says: "I do not know that there is anything
except it be humility, which is so valuable, as an incident of
education, as accuracy: and accuracy can be taught. Direct lies told to
the world are as dust in the balance when weighed against the falsehoods
Too many youths enter upon their business in a languid, half-hearted
way, and do their work in a slipshod manner. The consequence is that
they inspire neither admiration nor confidence on the part of their
superiors, and cut off almost every chance of success. There is a loose,
perfunctory method of doing one's work that never merits advance, and
very rarely wins it. Instead of buckling to their task with all the
force they possess, they merely touch it with the tips of their fingers,
their rule apparently being, the maximum of ease with the minimum of
work. The principle of Strafford, the great minister of Charles I., is
indicated by his motto, the one word "Thorough." It was said of King
Hezekiah, "In every work that he began, he did it with all his heart and
The stone-cutter goes to work on a stone and most patiently shapes it.
He carves that bit of fern, putting all his skill and taste into it. And
by-and-by the master says, "Well done," and takes it away and gives him
another block and tells him to work on that. And so he works on that
from the rising of the sun till the going down of the same, and he only
knows that he is earning his bread. And he continues to put all his
skill and taste into his work. He has no idea what use will be made of
these few stones which he has been carving, until afterward, when, one
day, walking along the street, and looking up at the front of the Art
Gallery, he sees the stones upon which he has worked. He did not know
what they were for, but the architect did. And as he stands looking at
his work on that structure which is the beauty of the whole street, he
says: "I am glad I did it well." And every day as he passes that way, he
says to himself exultingly, "I did it well." He did not draw the design,
nor plan the building, and he knew nothing of what use was to be made of
his work: but he took pains in cutting those stems; and when he saw
they were a part of that magnificent structure, his soul rejoiced.
Work that is not finished, is not work at all; it is merely a botch. We
often see this defect of incompleteness in a child, which increases in
youth. All about the house, everywhere, there are half-finished things.
It is true that children often become tired of things which they begin
with enthusiasm; but there is a great difference in children about
finishing what they undertake. A boy, for instance, will start out in
the morning with great enthusiasm to dig his garden over; but, after a
few minutes, his enthusiasm has evaporated, and he wants to go fishing.
He soon becomes tired of this, and thinks he will make a boat. No sooner
does he get a saw and knife and a few pieces of board about him than he
makes up his mind that really what he wanted to do, after all, was to
play ball, and this, in turn, must give way to something else.
One watch, set right, will do to set many by; but, on the other hand,
one that goes wrong may be the means of misleading a whole neighborhood.
The same may be said of the example we individually set to those around
"Whatever I have tried to do in life," said Dickens, "I have tried with
all my heart to do well. What I have devoted myself to, I have devoted
myself to completely."
It is no disgrace to be a shoemaker, but it is a disgrace for a
shoemaker to make bad shoes.
A traveler, recently returned from Jerusalem, found, in conversation
with Humboldt, that the latter was as conversant with the streets and
houses of Jerusalem as he was himself. On being asked how long it was
since he had visited it, the aged philosopher replied: "I have never
been there; but I expected to go sixty years since, and I prepared
So noted for excellency was everything bearing the brand of George
Washington, that a barrel of flour marked "George Washington, Mount
Vernon," was exempted from the customary inspection in the West India
Pascal, the most wonderful mathematical genius of his time, whose work
on conic sections, at sixteen, Descartes refused to believe could be
produced at that age, is considered to have fixed the French language,
as Luther did the German, by his writings. None of his provincial
letters, with the exception of the last three, was more than eight
quarto pages in length, yet he devoted twenty days to the writing of a
single letter, and one of them was written no less than thirteen times.
The night the Tasmania was wrecked, the captain had given the course
north by west, sixty-seven degrees. He had taken account of eddies and
currents. The second officer, overlooking these, ordered the helmsman
to make it north by west, fifty-seven degrees, but to bring the ship
around so gently that the captain wouldn't know it. Hence her
Rev. Mr. Maley, of the Ohio Conference of the Methodist Church, had the
habit of greatly exaggerating anything he talked about. His brethren at
conference told him that this habit was growing on him, and rendering
him unpopular in the ministry. Mr. Maley heard them patiently, and then
said: "Brethren, I am aware of the truth of all you have said, and have
shed barrels of tears over it."
There is a great difference between going just right and a little
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