Treasury of Hidden Virtues

Percy, Charles H.

  • Charles Percy explains why believes he has never met a person he did not respect, because he is open to listening and seeing who they truly are beneath the surface.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. The phrase “boy wonder” is overworked. But it seems to fit Charles H. Percy of Chicago. He joined the Board of Directors of Bell & Howell lens and movie camera manufacturers at the age of 23. Now he is 33 and he has been president of the company for four years. A Naval veteran of World War II, here is Charles Percy.
A great American industrial statesman, Clarence Francis, once said, “You can buy a man’s time, you can buy a man’s physical presence at a given place. You can even buy a measured number of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. But you cannot buy enthusiasm, you cannot buy initiative, you cannot
buy loyalty. You cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds, and souls. You have to earn these things.”
This I believe illustrates a great truth. We can earn human affection and respect only through understanding. It is our relationship with people—not people in a mass, but as individuals—which makes our own world rich or poor. I cannot truly understand everyone. But I can learn an amazing number of things about people if when I look at them, I really see them; if when I listen to them, I really hear them; and, if when I talk to them, I speak from my heart.
The most commonplace person becomes extraordinary when we understand him. The gruffest manner may conceal the kindest heart. The most practical man may be the most idealistic. The quietest, the
possessor of the most sparkling intellect. The most unlikely exterior may hide the greatest ability. The qualities of charm, warmth, wit, integrity, and unselfishness abound in people around us.
During the Battle of Britain, we were amazed at the courage and stamina of the British people, who withstood month after month of heavy bombing without a lessening of their morale. People who had never faced danger or discomfort endured it heroically. Yet their courage was nothing new. They had always had it, but they had never needed to use it before.
I believe that the faith we place in people is seldom disappointed. To expect the best of a man is almost assurance that you will receive it. When I give a man a job to do, I leave that job to him. It
is his responsibility. His is the credit or the blame for what he makes of it. Generally no two people do a thing in the same way. Every man brings to a problem a fresh point of view and a new approach. The value of individual effort and thinking can never be overestimated.
In our company, our production workers often have solved problems on the job that management has wrestled with unsuccessfully. Once a man knows that his opinions are respected, that his ideas are valued, his energy and mind are turned to constructive interest in his work. I do not believe in men doing the work that machines can do. Nor do I believe in hiring only the work of a man’s hands when he is eager to give his heart and his mind to his job.
I have never known—really known—a man or woman I couldn’t like and respect. I hope I never do. Once we recognize the fact that every individual is a treasury of hidden and unsuspected qualities, our lives become richer, our judgment better, and our world is more right. This I believe: It is not love that is blind. It is only the unnoticing eye that cannot see the real qualities of man.
That was President Charles Percy of Bell & Howell, lens and camera makers, one of the nation’s youngest business executives, who lives with his family in Kenilworth, Illinois.