Present Duties Well Performed


Many boys in the machine shop lose their opportunities of becoming skilled mechanics through waiting for a better job, just as men die waiting for something to turn up. There is no job to begin to do good work on like the one in hand, and no mistake greater than supposing that the very best mechanical skill cannot be shown on what would be called a very ordinary piece of work.

Nothing is more common than to hear complaints from apprentices that they don’t get an opportunity to learn the trade at which they are working, but generally speaking no one gets the opportunity; he makes it. There is no conspiracy to keep any one out of the position he ought to fill, but he must get into that position by his own exertions.

If a boy demonstrates that he is capable of doing a simple job of work better than anyone else, he is morally certain to get tried on a better one, if there is a better one. If he fails to do the present job right because there isn’t scope enough for his ambition, he makes it appear that it would be unsafe to trust him with better work. There is no other sure road to advancement than through present duties well performed.

American Machinist – November 10, 1883

—Jeff Burks

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5 Responses to Present Duties Well Performed

  1. Scott Taylor says:

    Truer words were never spoken. When I got out of the Navy I started a the bottom of the ladder in the civilian world. I took a lot of jobs at less pay than I was currently making in order to learn more (one pays tuition in many forms) about the business. While hard work is important the willingness to take risks, try something new and crawl out on the edge for an opportunity is what moves you forward.

  2. A true statement that transfers to any field.

  3. TheCreativeHand says:

    Is there any info on the work being done in the illustration?

    • Jeff Burks says:

      The article did not have an associated image. I chose this photo to go with it because it depicts an apprentice holding the “dumb end” of a complicated project.

      What you see in the photo is a patternmaker sawing the teeth of a bevel-gear foundry pattern on a modified bandsaw. The table and guard have been removed from the bandsaw for clearance. The wooden gear pattern is pivoted and rotated on a ball joint that is clamped to the side of the bandsaw frame. It was a common method for the era.

  4. torstein90 says:

    Reblogged this on Nemandi and commented:
    Dette gjelder i dag som i 1883.
    Det gjør godt å gjøre en godt utført jobb!

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