Sweet & Sour Grapes: The Story of the Machine Tool Industry - page 7


A layman’s definition of normal human personality and behavior (character) would most likely involve three ingredients, whose proportions vary from individual to individual: family genetics, the chemical and electrical activities in the brain, and all of life’s experiences. Those proportions then change with maturity.

Few of us can influence the first two. By definition, the third, life’s experiences, is our opportunity to help shape people for success and happiness. It can be to mature in a way that utilizes the most beneficial influences, just as good grapes become a fine wine when their juice is aged in exactly the right cask material at the correct temperature, darkness, and time to an “excellent” maturity.

Early achievements, their rewards, and recognition for them excite the imagination to visualize even greater achievements, rewards, and recognition. This should not be seen as selfishness, since “rewards” go far beyond personal gain. In addition, passion may have been awakened in the process.

Passion (as in passion for one’s life’s work): Intense emotion compelling action; boundless enthusiasm.

Words alone are not nearly as effective as actual experience. Education, training, and especially responding to challenge and risk accelerate, broaden, and deepen the maturing process. Travel and exposure to diverse cultures can have a significant influence as well. A challenging “life’s work” environment and related experiences enrich the lives of people and are an important positive influence on personality and behavior. A “life’s work” environment that is empty and full of drudgery has the opposite effect.

Challenging: Demanding physical or psychological effort of a stimulating kind.

Some believe that at birth, life experiences while in the womb have already influenced behavior. Obviously, a one-year-old and a 70- year-old are on the opposite ends of the influences of life experience. With age, the other two ingredients are reduced in proportion and then personality and behavior are influenced largely by life’s experiences. There is little being done at age 70 that doesn’t have major influence from life’s experiences.

Wisdom: Accumulated knowledge of life, which has been gained through experience, needed to make sensible, judicious decisions and judgments.

The special machine tool industry is uncommonly dependent on all of its people, their passion, and their imagination and courage to succeed.

Some important questions that arise in this discussion that may not be answered to the satisfaction of the reader: In which of the three ingredients of human character does passion, as in passion for life’s work, originate? Can it be taught or influenced by life’s experiences and can it be acquired through training or mentoring?

The Sixth Priority

It remains to be seen whether this effort can have any influence in helping to shape a reader or two. Interestingly, it has already affected the writer in the process, by lessons now recalled but not in sharp focus or not fully appreciated during the actual experience. It has sharpened the focus on:

Life’s Priorities:

  1. Our own life, its health, its longevity, and its quality. (Without the first priority the others would be greatly diminished).

  2. The life of our mates, their health, longevity, and quality.

  3. The creation of our offspring and their life’s health, longevity, and quality.

  4. Our other family members and their life’s health, longevity, and quality.

  5. The concern for and the treatment of others.

  6. Our life’s work. It has profound impact on the other priorities, on all those around us, and even on the future of our race. It is responsible for all human “Progress.”

“Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Maya Angelou said that hope has replaced the horror of that sight.

‘I can see in the acorn the oak tree,’ Angelou said. ‘I see the growth, the rebuilding, the restoring. I see that is the American psyche. There is so much we can draw understanding from. One of the lessons is the development of courage. Because without courage, you can’t practice any of the other virtues consistently’.[3 ]

In the “acorns” of passion, imagination and courage can be seen the magnificent, flourishing oak forest of modern democratic mankind, its freedoms, and its collective life’s work: its progress

[3 ]John Smyntek, Poet Angelou Speaks Out, (The Detroit Free Press, October 9, 2001).