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The Training of a Secretary:
 Mechanical Helps

 Filing Room And Library

 Overlapping With Other Officers

 The Private Secretary

 The Social Secretary

 The Building And Loan Association Secretary

 For Any Secretary


 Famous Secretaries And Their Careers

 In General

 Read More Articles About: The Training of a Secretary

In General

( Originally Published 1922 )

To young persons I would say; obtain as comprehensive and as thorough a general education as time and circumstances will permit. Add to this constantly as you inch along through life. Take up whatever profession or vocation you have a bent or sympathy for. Master it. Learn something new each day. I believe it has been said —it is true at any rate—that a good education consists of everything of something and something of everything. Look on the bright side. In time you will realize that life with all its drawbacks is a splendid privilege. I once heard a man of eighty-five assert in public that the longer he lived, the more sure he was that service was the only thing worth while; and he was correct, for service is a solid satisfaction in itself ; it is good because it is right, and it leads to material success, happiness and contentment,

Take Enough Time For Active Exercise In The Open Air

If your inclination is towards a secretary-ship, I trust that that which has been writ-ten in the preceding pages will at least out-line to you the customary duties of your future occupation. Perhaps you will be one of those who achieve the position or have it thrust upon you. At the risk of becoming pedantic, or even of appearing to, I am going to devote a few paragraphs to those business, and personal characteristics which, in my opinion, the secretary and his assistants should possess.

It is important that his work be carried out with system. Every hour in the day, every day in the year has its own duties which should be so arranged that there shall be no possibility of an oversight in their performance. Records and reminders must be so kept that each member of the secretarial organization will be exactly on time in all the events in which it is his duty to take part.

A tiny American watch and an American freight locomotive are admirable inanimate examples with which to illustrate the human mechanics of a secretarial department. Each has its own source of power, one so insignificant it is difficult to measure; the other serves to drive a ponderous engine across the plain or up the face of a mountain, while it hauls thousands, of tons of cars and lading for the benefit and pleasure of man.

Each keeps time and works cheerfully. The watch ticks away happily and busily at night, perhaps beneath your pillow; and "as the soft dews of kindly sleep" fall on weary eyelids, there are few sounds in the world more soothing than the earnest puff—puff --puff--of a great locomotive just heard in the distance, as its train winds laboriously along. It gives a sense of security and solidity and honesty. There is no machine so human as the locomotive. It has more personality than some people. It is the very emblem of civilization and progress.

So the secretary may be considered the motive power of his department and the other members, the elements of the human machine, interdependent and cooperating for the sole purpose of doing a specific work however simple or complicated it may be, whether it requires one person or hundreds; and of doing it on time. Each element is in a very real sense as important as its mate, for if one fails the whole fabric is disarranged.

Under our American system of manufacture it is a light matter to replace a broken piece of machinery. Duplicates of vital parts are or should be available for this purpose at all times. No watch or locomotive need be kept out of service long for need of a new pinion or wheel or spring. So it should be in a secretarial department. Accidents will happen and human beings will become ill or die or change their employment. The department should be so organized that misfortunes of this nature will interfere as little as possible with its smooth working.

The secretary ought to be cheerful in the performance of his tasks. Cheerfulness should emanate from him, and he should be as industrious as the watch or the locomotive. If he does not take a keen pleasure in doing what he has to do as well as it can be done there is no health in him.

I do believe that secretaries are born, like painters and poets, with a temperament, not the same perhaps as the poet, but with a zeal to excel in their particular lines of endeavor equal to that of the early craftsmen of Europe—Benvenuto Cellini, for instance, but more honest, infinitely more honest than that fascinating old sinner; although in his work he was as honest as the sun. I think it would have seriously injured his health to slight anything he attempted, in the smallest degree. He said himself he was the best artist that had ever lived, and from several examples of his handicraft which I have been fortunate enough to see, I am inclined to believe he did not overstate the fact, certainly not in the way of design and in the working of the precious metals.

It goes without saying that the secretary should be honest. If it comes to a question of the ethics of his profession, which is unlikely, he is responsible only to his own sense of right and wrong. Baruch, the scribe, did the right thing when he re-wrote the words of the book which Jehoiakim burned in the fire in the winterhouse.

Reference has been made in Chapter III to that quality in a secretary which obliges him to take upon himself responsibilities which it is not convenient or agreeable for others to assume. This little book will show the directions in which, by custom, the trait has carried the Secretary. It is the quality, in some degree at least, which Kipling describes in his " Sons of Martha ".

It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock;

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose ;

They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their work whenever they choose.

There are many men of the highest attainments who do not have this sense of responsibility, this sense of order, this desire to see men and affairs interlock to bring about useful action, " Sons of Mary " perhaps.

The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part,

But the Sons of Martha favor their mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart ;

Some piece of injustice must have rankled in Mr. Kipling's breast when he wrote " The Sons of Martha ", but of course it is tremendously true.

But enough of soliloquizing and preaching. To a musical secretary I would say I have struck my 6/4 chord and the dominant and there only remains the tonic which is the last one. One more paragraph and I will have finished.

In personal characteristics The Secretary should be sincere, sympathetic with the work of others, approachable and helpful. He should take pride in the abilities and in the achievements of his follow-workers and seek to command their respect, as well as to gain their friendship.

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