Monday Motivation: Courage and Recklessness
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!”
“Great God, man! of course I am afraid,” replied the other. “And if you
were one-half as afraid as I am, you would turn and run.”
Here we have the discrimination between real courage and mere foolhardiness or recklessness. There are some vocations which require courage. There are others which require an element of recklessness. It requires courage to drive the locomotive of a railroad train at a speed of eighty miles an hour, but it also requires caution, prudence,
watchfulness, and even apprehension.
In a western factory, men were wanted for an important job, one in which a moment’s carelessness in the handling of levers might cost a dozen fellow workmen their lives. “Find me,” said the superintendent,
“the most careful men you can get. I do not want anyone dumping damage suits on the company.” The employment department found the very careful men, but none of them were satisfactory; they were all so careful that they made no speed, and soon had to be relieved for this reason, and because the constant nervous strain was too much for them.
Here was a kind of work requiring a certain cool, calm, deliberate
recklessness. Men were found with steady nerves, keen eyesight, quick
reaction time, and smooth co-ordination of muscular action, together
with a moderate degree of cautiousness. These men liked the work for
the very tingle of the danger in it. They swung their ponderous machines to their tasks with a sureness of touch and a swiftness of operation which not only delighted the superintendent, but inspired
confidence in their fellow workers.
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