Oiling Your Business Machinery


            Business is king. We often say that cotton is king, or corn is king, but with greater propriety we may say that the king is that great machine which is kept in motion by the Law of Supply and Demand: the destinies of all mankind are ruled by it.


            "Were the question asked," says Stearns, "what is at this moment the strongest Power in operation for controlling, regulating, and inciting the actions of men, what has most at its disposal the condition and destinies of the world, we must answer at once, it is business, in its various ranks and departments; of which commerce, foreign and domestic, is the most appropriate representation. In all prosperous and advancing communities, - advancing in arts, knowledge, literature, and social refinement, - business is king. Other influences in society may be equally indispensable, and some may think far more dignified, but Business is King. The statesman and the scholar, the nobleman and the prince, equally with the manufacturer, the mechanic, and the labourer, pursue their several objects only by leave granted and means furnished by this potentate."


            Oil is better than sand for keeping this vast machinery in good running condition. Do not shovel grit or gravel stones upon the bearings. A tiny copper shaving in a wheel box, or a scratch on a journal, may set a railway train on fire. The running of the business world is damaged by whatever creates friction.


            Anxiety mars one's work. Nobody can do his best when fevered by worry. One may rush and always be in great haste, and may talk about being busy, fuming and sweating as if he were doing ten men's duties; and yet some quiet person alongside, who is moving leisurely and without anxious haste, is probably accomplishing twice as much, and doing it better. Fluster unfits one for good work.


            Have you not sometimes seen a business manager whose stiffness would serve as "a good example to a poker?" He acts toward his employees as the father of Frederick the Great did toward his subjects, caning them on the streets, and shouting, "I wish to be loved and not feared." Growl, Spitfire and Brothers," says Talmage, "wonder why they fail, while Messrs. Merriman and Warmheart succeed."


            There is no investment a businessman can make that will pay him a greater per cent, than patience and amiability. Good humour will sell the most goods.


            John Wanamaker's clerks have been heard to say: "We can work better for a weak after a pleasant 'Good morning' from Mr. Wanamaker."


            This kindly disposition and cheerful manner, and a desire to create a pleasant feeling and diffuse good cheer among those who work for him, have had a great deal to do with the great merchant's remarkable success. On the other hand, a man who easily finds fault, and is never generous-spirited, who never commends the work of subordinates when he can do so justly, who is unwilling to brighten their hours, fails to secure the best of service. "Why not try love's way?" It will pay better, and be better.


            A habit of cheerfulness, enabling one to transmute apparent misfortunes into real blessings, is a fortune to a young man or young woman just crossing the threshold of active life. There is nothing but ill fortune in a habit of grumbling, which "requires no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character." Grumbling only makes an employee more uncomfortable, and may cause his dismissal. No one would or should wish to make him do grudgingly what so many others would be glad to do in a cheerful spirit.


            If you dislike your position, complain to no one, least of all to your employer. Fill the place as it was never filled before. Crowd it to overflowing. Make yourself more competent for it. Show that you are abundantly worthy of better things. Express yourself in this manner as freely as you please, for it is the only way that will count.


            No one ever found the world quite as he would like it. You will be sure to have burdens laid upon you that belong to other people, unless you are a shirk yourself; but don't grumble. If the work needs doing and you can do it, never mind about the other one who ought to have done it and did not; do it yourself. Those workers who fill up the gaps, and smooth away the rough spots, and finish up the jobs that others leave undone, - they are the true peacemakers, and worth a regiment of grumblers.


            "Oh, what a sunny, winsome face she has!" said a Christian Endeavorer, in reporting of a clerk woman he saw in a Bay City store. "The customers flocked about her like bees about a honey-bush bloom."

Singing at Your Work


            "Give us, therefore," - let us cry with Carlyle, - "oh, give us the man who sings at his work ! He will do more in the same time, he will do it better, he will persevere longer. One is scarcely sensible of fatigue whilst he marches to music. The very stars are said to make harmony as they revolve in their spheres. Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, altogether past calculation its powers of endurance. Efforts, to be permanently useful, must be uniformly joyous, a spirit all sunshine, graceful from very gladness, beautiful because bright."


            "It is a good sign," says another writer, "when girlish voices carol over the steaming dishpan or the mending basket, when the broom moves rhythmically, and the duster flourishes in time to some brisk melody. We are sure that the dishes shine more brightly, and that the sweeping and dusting and mending are more satisfactory because of this running accompaniment of song. Father smiles when he has his girl singing about her work, and mother's tired face brightens at the sound. Brothers and sisters, without realising it, perhaps, catch the spirit of the cheerful worker."


            There are singing milkers in Switzerland; a milkmaid or man gets better wages if gifted with a good voice, for a cow will yield one-fifth more milk when soothed by a pleasing melody.


            It was said by Buffon that even sheep fatten better to the sound of music. And when field hands are singing, as you sometimes hear them in the old country, you may be sure the labour is lightened.


            It is Mrs. Howitt who has told us of the musical bells of the farm teams in a rural district in England: - "It was no regular tune, but a delicious melody in that soft, sunshiny air which was filled at the same time with the song of birds. Angela had heard all kinds of music in London, but this was unlike anything she had heard before, so soft, and sweet, and gladsome. On it came, ringing, ringing as softly as flowing water. The boys and grandfather knew what it meant. Then it came in sight, - the farm team going to the mill with sacks of corn to be ground, each horse with a little string of bells to its harness. On they came, the handsome, well-cared-for creatures, nodding their heads as they stepped along; and at every step the cheerful and cheering melody rang out.

            "'Do all horses down here have bells?' asked Angela.

            "By no means,' replied her grandfather. 'They cost something; but if we can make labour easier to a horse by giving him a little music, which he loves, he is less worn by his work, and that is a saving worth thinking of. A horse is a generous, noble-spirited animal, and not without intellect, either; and he is capable of much enjoyment from music.'"


            A spirit of song, if not the singing itself, is a constant delight to us. "It is like passing sweet meadows alive with bobolinks."


            "Some men," says Beecher, "move through life as a band of music moves down the street, flinging out pleasures on every side, through the air, to every one far and near who can listen; others fill the air with harsh clang and clangour. Many men go through life carrying their tongue, their temper, their whole disposition so that wherever they go, others dread them. Some men fill the air with their presence and sweetness, as orchards in October days fill the air with the perfume of ripe fruit."

Good Humour


            "Health and good humour," said Massillon, "are to the human body like sunshine to vegetation."


            The late Charles A. Dana fairly bubbled over with the enjoyment of his work, and was, up to his last illness, at his office every day. A Cabinet officer once said to him: "Well, Mr. Dana, I don't see how you stand this infernal grind."

            "Grind?" said Mr. Dana. "You never were more mistaken. I have nothing but fun."


            "Bully" was a favourite word with him; a slang word used to express uncommon pleasure, such as had been afforded by a trip abroad, or by a run to Cuba or Mexico, or by the perusal of something especially pleasing in the "Sun's" columns.


            "One of my neighbours is a very ill-tempered man," said Nathan Rothschild. "He tries to vex me, and has built a great place for swine close to my walk. So, when I go out, I hear first, 'Grunt, grunt,' then 'Squeak, squeak.' But this does me no harm. I am always in good humour."


            "Offended by a pungent article, a gentleman called at the "Tribune" office and inquired for the editor. He was shown into a little seven by-nine sanctum, where Greeley sat, with his head close down to his paper, scribbling away at a two-forty rate. The angry man began by asking if this was Mr. Greeley. "Yes, sir, what do you want?" said the editor quickly, without once looking up from his paper. The irate visitor then began using his tongue, with no reference to the rules of propriety, good breeding, or reason. Meantime Mr. Greeley continued to write. Page after page was dashed off in the most impetuous style, with no change of features, and without paying the slightest attention to the visitor. Finally, after about twenty minutes of the most impassioned scolding ever poured out in an editor's office, the angry man became disgusted, and abruptly turned to walk out of the room. Then, for the first time, Mr. Greeley quickly looked up, rose from his chair and, slapping the gentleman familiarly on his shoulder, in a pleasant tone of voice said: "Don't go, friend; sit down, sit down, and free your mind; it will do you good, - you will feel better for it. Besides, it helps me to think what I am to write about. Don't go."


            "One good hearty laugh." says Talmage, "is like a bombshell exploding in the right place, and spleen and discontent like a gun that kicks over the man shooting it off."


            "Every one," says Lubbock, "likes a man who can enjoy a laugh at his own expense, - and justly so, for it shows good humour and good sense. If you laugh at yourself, other people will not laugh at you."


            People differ very much in their sense of humour. As some are deaf to certain sounds and blind to certain colours, so there are those who seem deaf and blind to certain pleasures. What makes me laugh until I almost go into convulsions moves them not at all.


            Is it not worthwhile to make an effort to see the funny side of our petty annoyances? How could the two boys but laugh, after they had contended long over the possession of a box found by the wayside, when they agreed to divide its contents, and found nothing in it?


            The ability to get on with scolding, irritating people is a great art in doing business. To preserve serenity amid petty trials is a happy gift.


            A sunny temper is also conducive to health. A medical authority of highest repute affirms that "excessive labour, exposure to wet and cold, deprivation of sufficient quantities of necessary and wholesome food, habitual bad lodging, sloth, and intemperance are all deadly enemies to human life, but they are none of them so bad as violent and ungoverned passions;" that men and women have frequently lived to an advanced age in spite of these; but that instances are very rare in which people of irascible tempers live to extreme old age.


            Poultney Bigelow, in "Harper's Magazine," in relating the story of Jameson's raid upon the Boers of South Africa, says that the triumphant Boers fell on their knees, thanking God for their victory; and that they prayed for their enemies, and treated their prisoners with the utmost kindness. Our foreign missionary books relate similar anecdotes, it being a characteristic feature of their childlike piety for new converts to take literally the words of our Lord, - "Love your enemies."


            It is not true that the devil has his tail in everything. A stalwart confidence in God, and faith in the happy outcome of life, will do more to lubricate the creaking machinery of our daily affairs than anything else.

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