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Direct And Indirect Interest

We may have an interest either (1) in the doing of an act, or (2) in the

end sought through the doing. In the first instance we call the interest

immediate or direct; in the second instance, mediate or



an interest in the doing of our work, or if it has become positively

disagreeable so that we loathe its performance, then th
re must be some

ultimate end for which the task is being performed, and in which there

is a strong interest, else the whole process will be the veriest

drudgery. If the end is sufficiently interesting it may serve to throw a

halo of interest over the whole process connected with it. The following

instance illustrates this fact:

A twelve-year-old boy was told by his father that if he would make the

body of an automobile at his bench in the manual training school, the

father would purchase the running gear for it and give the machine to

the boy. In order to secure the coveted prize, the boy had to master the

arithmetic necessary for making the calculations, and the drawing

necessary for making the plans to scale before the teacher in manual

training would allow him to take up the work of construction. The boy

had always lacked interest in both arithmetic and drawing, and

consequently was dull in them. Under the new incentive, however, he took

hold of them with such avidity that he soon surpassed all the remainder

of the class, and was able to make his calculations and drawings within

a term. He secured his automobile a few months later, and still retained

his interest in arithmetic and drawing.

INDIRECT INTEREST AS A MOTIVE.--Interest of the indirect type, which

does not attach to the process, but comes from some more or less

distant end, most of us find much less potent than interest which is

immediate. This is especially true unless the end be one of intense

desire and not too distant. The assurance to a boy that he must get his

lessons well because he will need to be an educated man ten years hence

when he goes into business for himself does not compensate for the lack

of interest in the lessons of today.

Yet it is necessary in the economy of life that both children and adults

should learn to work under the incitement of indirect interests. Much of

the work we do is for an end which is more desirable than the work

itself. It will always be necessary to sacrifice present pleasure for

future good. Ability to work cheerfully for a somewhat distant end saves

much of our work from becoming drudgery. If interest is removed from

both the process and the end, no inducement is left to work except

compulsion; and this, if continued, results in the lowest type of

effort. It puts a man on a level with the beast of burden, which

constantly shirks its work.


instead of inhering in the process may finally lead to an interest in

the work itself; but if it does not, the worker is in danger of being

left a drudge at last. To be more than a slave to his work one must

ultimately find the work worth doing for its own sake. The man who

performs his work solely because he has a wife and babies at home will

never be an artist in his trade or profession; the student who masters a

subject only because he must know it for an examination is not

developing the traits of a scholar. The question of interest in the

process makes the difference between the one who works because he loves

to work and the one who toils because he must--it makes the difference

between the artist and the drudge. The drudge does only what he must

when he works, the artist all he can. The drudge longs for the end of

labor, the artist for it to begin. The drudge studies how he may escape

his labor, the artist how he may better his and ennoble it.

To labor when there is joy in the work is elevating, to labor under the

lash of compulsion is degrading. It matters not so much what a man's

occupation as how it is performed. A coachman driving his team down the

crowded street better than anyone else could do it, and glorying in that

fact, may be a true artist in his occupation, and be ennobled through

his work. A statesman molding the affairs of a nation as no one else

could do it, or a scholar leading the thought of his generation is

subject to the same law; in order to give the best grade of service of

which he is capable, man must find a joy in the performance of the work

as well as in the end sought through its performance. No matter how high

the position or how refined the work, the worker becomes a slave to his

labor unless interest in its performance saves him.