THE VALUE OF A MAN'S TIME.
Time travels in divers paces with divers persons.
This is what the manager said to the men: If a man works eight hours for two dollars, his time has a market value—that is, a value in the market where he disposes of it—of twenty five cents an hour. The rest of the day, or six teen hours, is his to spend in sleep, at meals and in rest. If he takes ten hours for sleep and two for meals, he has four hours left. The value of these four hours, on the basis of his wages, is one dollar.
Can he get this extra dollar? You think he can get it only by working overtime at the same rate. Now, regular over time work of four hours per day is impossible as a continuous thing; and even if it were pos sible, a man should not try to earn more money that way, because there is a better way.
If this extra dollar is not to be had by over time work at the regular rate, am I wrong in saying that the four hours of leisure have the value of another dollar? To answer the question as well as I can is the reason I have called you together. As you all know, we employ several hundreds of men to carry on this business. They grade from the general manager down to the day laborer.
The general manager is elected to his posi tion because his knowledge and experience are such that he can watch every department of work we do here ; he knows how to make the plant produce what we can sell and how we can dispose, through our sales department, of what we produce, at a profit.
If he could not do these things he would not be here ten minutes. We could not afford to keep him. In brief, the weight of the entire business is on his shoulders, and his shoulders are strong enough to bear the load.
On the other hand, you men who are work ing for us by the day find your work all laid out for you ; the tools to do it with are ready at hand. You have only to come here on time, pick up the tools that lie ready for you and fol low directions. And yet, as you all know, even work of this kind can be done well by one man and badly by another.
Keep this fact in mind for a few moments.
Now, between the general manager and the laborer there are many grades of work and of positions. How do they differ? You will probably say, "In the pay." But that is not wholly correct. They differ in the amount of responsibility they carry.
When we find a man who can fill a place which requires some degree of responsibility, we do not offer him the pay of a less skillful man. We pay him in accordance with the value of what he shows us he can do.
I do not need to explain to you why one man has to wield a pick and shovel all day for two dollars, or why another has what you often call a soft snap at four dollars. I do not need to tell you that neither this, nor any other business, is based on a system of favoritism and good pay to those of whom we sometimes hear it said, "they stand in with the management." I want you to believe that we pay for value received, so far as we are able to discern and control it.
No business man in the world, or body of business men, is infallible in judgment. The result of this, is that sometimes a man who proves unfitted for it is put in a responsible place at a good salary. We sometimes make
that mistake. But we do not go on making it. As soon as we know that a man receives more than he earns, we look for a man who is worth the amount of money.
I asked you a moment ago to keep in mind the fact that, even in the ranks of ordinary day labor, one man will do his work better than an other. This fact has taught us, as business men and employers of men, that workmen dif fer from one another only in one particular. I call that particular the thinking difference. The moment a man thinks about his work he is no longer a day laborer only.
He is a day laborer with an opportunity com ing his way. Let him think hard enough and long enough, and he will think himself into a better place. So long as he lives and thinks hard about what he does, so long he will con tinue to advance, for he is putting more into his work all the time. The advancement he wins is his sacred right and nothing can keep it from him.
You may take my word for it that we are ever on the lookout among men for the think ers; for the man that uses his shovel, his hands and his head in such a way as to show that he thinks before he acts. Once we find that kind of a man he is marked for a better place. We are glad to give it to him, for he is capable; and it is capability and nothing else that does business.
Now let us get back to those four hours of time which I valued at an extra dollar a day. Any man who works eight hours a day and has four hours left to think about himself and his work has a chance that is worth far more than a dollar. He can, if he will, actually think him self into independence. But it is a long way from two dollars a day to independence, and a thinking man must be patient and win his way step by step.
If such a man makes up his mind to do his work in the very best way he can, to study the job he is on, to watch better workers than him self, to learn how they do their work, no power in the world can keep him at the foot of the ladder.
He is just as bound to rise as mercury in a thermometer is on a warm day. If we overlook his ability, somebody else will see it and hire him away from us; or he will become convinced of his greater value and find a better place for himself.
Therefore, these four hours are worth not only a dollar to a man; provided he is a think er, they are worth a fortune to him. He ought to prize them as the best part of his day. No man was ever connected with a business who could not see a better situation above him.
Let him study that situation ; let him keep his eyes on it; let him keep his mind on it, and some day he will have a chance to try it. While he is working below let him think of the better place above and try for it.
Regular sleep, simple food, a fair day's work and a golden margin of a few hours for thought,—with these the humblest of you can, in time, better yourselves to an extent that, if promised in advance, would seem improbable.
Do not spent your time looking for a better place until you have spent a lot of time getting ready for it by hard work and hard thinking.,