By Lin Stone
A short story
Once upon a time two men lived in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.
Henry struggled for years for recognition. George had it thrust upon him almost daily. Henry invented the dual headlight system and almost got put in jail over it. George invented necklaces by stringing ticks on a strand of metal; he was written up in the papers and put on national television.
Henry had to pay a fine to stay out of jail, George made thousands of dollars per week until he ran out of volunteers to go get the ticks for him. Henry split his lunch with a beggar for two years. Not only did his generosity go unnoticed, one day he had no lunch to share and the beggar brought out a double portion to eat in front of Henry. George showed up for less than an hour of service late on Christmas morning to pass out dinners to poor diners, and it was written up in the papers -- plus he received a letter of commendation from the charity heads.
There were many, many other instances of similarities between what Henry did and what George did with equally opposite results almost every time. Now, before you go off shaking your head and mumbling about it not being fair and nobody ever gives YOU a chance either, let me share MY evaluations with you.
Henry had invented the dual headlight system and went down the road flashing them off and on -- just showing off to people in the car with him how great they worked. And yes, they were great. Furthermore, he attracted attention of the powers that be. In fact, he was pulled over by the Highway Patrol before he'd gone twenty miles. The officer began softly enough, but Henry made a confrontation out of it immediately. "You wouldn't have pulled Henry Ford over for inventing dual headlights!"
George decided that the one thing his area had more of than anything else was ticks, and what was the funniest things you could do with ticks but String Them Up? Well, he got to playing around and he did string them up. Very casually he mentioned to a few people that he was stringing ticks up by the dozen. By the time a reporter got there George actually had a necklace to show off. He didn't say how great an idea it was to string ticks up on a necklace, mostly because he didn't think it was. But the reporter knew it was a good story and set about to write it up. Before you knew it, George was on television too.
Is there a lesson to learn there in that comparison? Yes. To make Henry's invention a success let's go back to the moment he vehemently denounced the Highway Patrolman with "You wouldn't have pulled Henry Ford over for inventing dual headlights!" and ask ourselves, how WOULD Henry Ford have announced HIS invention of dual headlights?
Why the answer is obvious, Henry Ford would have held a press conference to show off his new invention. He would have had facts and figures ready to hand and probably even a working model that reporters could personally try to pierce the darkness with.
Then there's the matter of dress at the time of meeting the powers that be. Henry was in his tattered, greasy overalls, and George was stringing up ticks in his Sunday-go-to-meeting suit and tie.
But attitude is even more important than attire. Here's the difference in the attitude of these two: Henry would rather walk a mile to start a new war than to take two steps and make a new friend. The second day George was in boot camp he put a FOR SALE sign up on his rifle. HE made friends with everyone there except the drill sergeant. Secretly, he was on George's side too.
Line Henry and George up side by side in any exhibition and which one are YOU going to listen to first? Now tell me it isn't fair of you to make a choice like that!
You don't usually get on the good side of Highway Patrolmen OR the press by demanding their respect. The world is generally fair; it usually responds to those people it meets with the same respect that individual gives to the world. You'll find the world has a whole lot more respect for you when you show the world how much respect and appreciation you have for it.