Bigness and Detail

THE quality of “bigness” must be associated with the successful mind. Great men in any business, vocation, or profession must be big men—men who see things in the large, who rise above the petty and inconsequential, and employ their forces positively rather than negatively. To a “little” man, everything assumes an equal importance. He is “on his dignity,” he must not be “slighted,” he “cannot forgive the oversight,” he expends nervous energy over trifles, he is intolerant of opposition, he suspects motives and resents them, he picks out the flaws, he fears ridicule, he sees things “in the small” rather than “in the large,” he ventures lamely, taps with his cane, and hugs the wall. The big man dares more, believes more, conceives more, puts others on their own responsibility, passes over but does not “pass up” detail, never does for himself what he can get another to do as well, forgets as well as forgives, does not argue, comes to definite decisions, acts forcefully, dares divinely, accepts delay or defeat calmly, is tolerant of other opinions even though constant in his own, is open to suggestion, willing to change to a better policy, sees much, hears more, and talks less.

Measure your mind against these requirements and see how “big” you are. Bigness does not exclude detail.

Attention to detail is not the mark of smallness. A big man can attend to little things in a big way. If detail is his work, he can make it a perfect service. He can make the office of a filing clerk the pivot of the whole business. He can be a library of information, an indispensable factor in the smooth running of the machinery. Many failures can be traced to lack of attention to detail, such as delay in answering correspondence, laxity in accounts, improper methods of filing data, carelessness in meeting obligations. To these the man who would succeed should turn his attention. “A little leak will sink a great ship.” How much sooner will your frail bark go down if you disregard the essentials of your career?

Resolve to be faithful in little things in order to be made a “ruler over many things,” but at the same time launch your soul out on the sea of life in the big way. Practice seeing things “in the large.” Overcome pettiness. Control your “feelings.” Cultivate generosity in your dealings with and estimate of others. Resolve on the big issue.

“God give us men! A time like this demands,

True hearts, strong heads and ready hands, Men whom the love of office cannot buy, Men who have honor, men who will not lie.

Strong men, who live above the clouds. Of petty policy and private thinking, Men who can damn a selfish demagogue without blinking,

For while base tricksters with their worn- out creeds,

Their base professions and their little deeds,

Wrangle in petty strife, lo, freedom weeps, Wrong rules the land and waiting justice sleeps”

Fenwicke Lindsay Holmes

Fenwicke Lindsay Holmes

Fenwicke Lindsay Holmes was an American author, former Congregational minister, and Religious Science leader.

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