One of my most favourite magazine articles is “You never stop learning”, by James Michener, which appeared in the December 1962 issue of Reader’s Digest. A truly inspiring article on the importance of continuing to learn and grow one’s mind.
Let me quote a part of this article:
“Specialization is not enough. For the big jobs – historically, culturally, morally – what the world needs is well-rounded human beings.
I remember a day in 1942 when the U.S Navy was hungry for talent. Four of us would-be officers were shivering in our shorts in a small room. A grim-faced selection committee asked “What can you do?” and the first man replied, “I am buyer for Macy’s and I have trained myself to judge very quickly between markets and prices and trends.” The board replied, “Can’t you do anything practical?”, and shunted him off to one side.
The next man was a lawyer. He had to confess;” I can weigh evidence and organize information.” He was rejected.
I was third and when I answered, “I know language and a good deal of history”, the board groaned and I went shivering away.
Then the fourth man said boldly, “I am a college trained engineer and I can overhaul diesel engines.” The committee practically embraced him and made him an officer on the spot.
But this is not the end of the story. When the war was over, the Macy’s buyer was assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, in charge of many complex responsibilities requiring instant good judgment. He had given himself courses in Naval management and government procedures and had become a top expert. The lawyer wound up as assistant to Admiral Halsey and in a crucial battle deduced logically from intelligence reports just where the Japanese fleet had to be. He came out covered with medals. I got the job of Naval Secretary to several Congressional committees who were determining the future of America in the South Pacific.
What was the engineer doing at the end of the war ? He was still overhauling diesel engines.”
Now let’s not get into debates on whether this article is biased against engineers. [I am an engineer myself] The point is that, in order to grow, it is vital to keep learning and applying the knowledge. This article really inspires me.