My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—I went up to Democratic headquarters this morning to keep four appointments, but some one slipped up, and I only met two people. Since I am no longer responsible to any one else for the accomplishment of any specific piece of work, I have had great opportunity to observe the work of other people. When you are immersed in doing one thing yourself, if you are going to do it well, that thing must seem to you more important than any other piece of work at the moment. It is a most difficult thing to do a particular job well and still keep enough perspective to be able to see it in relation to the work other people are doing.

Many years ago I learned that the periods in one's life when one is simply a listener and observer, may seem useless, but are in the end very valuable and I hope that if ever I am back again in some kind of executive position, my present opportunities for observation will prove fruitful.

The man or woman who can be the center of an organization, who can keep his finger on all the lines that flow out, without interference or too close a follow-up, and who in addition can remain himself an oasis of calm with time to listen and think, will be a pearl above price in any organization.

As I look at the young people starting out today, I feel the best help we can give them, is to encourage the acceptance of responsibility. A good memory is very helpful in life, but nowhere near as helpful as the ability to analyze a situation and think out ways of handling it. In other words the photographer is useful, but the artist who paints a picture is creating something new. Many of our children are taught to do as they are told, and to accept direction and frequently the busy mother and father resent the questioning spirit which is the first step towards creative thought and future initiative.

In this day and generation the youngsters with ideas who can think up new ways of giving service, different ways of doing things that people are tired of doing in old ways, new uses for old materials of any kind, in fact who have imagination and originality, they will get somewhere. There is always room at the top but to arrive there and to stay there requires exceptional industry, exceptional qualifications and the courage to think along original lines.

TMsd 3 September 1936, AERP, FDRL