The Most Valuable Skill in the World Cover

The Most Valuable Skill in the World

One day in the early 1920s, a four feet tiny man walked into a Ford plant near Detroit. His name was Charles Proteus Steinmetz. He was a mathematician and electrical engineer, called there to help fix a big generator.

From Smithsonian Mag:

Upon arriving, Steinmetz rejected all assistance and asked only for a notebook, pencil and cot.

Steinmetz listened to the generator and scribbled computations on the notepad for two straight days and nights. On the second night, he asked for a ladder, climbed up the generator and made a chalk mark on its side. Then he told Ford’s skeptical engineers to remove a plate at the mark and replace sixteen windings from the field coil.

They did, and the generator performed to perfection.

Henry Ford was thrilled, until he got an invoice from General Electric in the amount of $10,000. Ford acknowledged Steinmetz’s success but balked at the figure. He asked for an itemized bill.

Steinmetz responded personally to Ford’s request with the following:

Making chalk mark on generator: $1.

Knowing where to make mark: $9,999.

Ford paid the bill.

I’ve told this story before, but I can’t think of a better one to show:

The single most valuable skill in the world is judgement.

At first I thought great judgement would just make you rich, but that’s not true. It’ll also make you happy. Deciding who you trust requires judgement. Choosing who you marry is a judgement call. How you spend your time is a direct result of your judgement.

That’s why nature made it hard to get. The only way to good judgement leads right through experience, which you pay for in time, energy, and taking risk.

But, even more than all of those combined, you need courage. Because while life is one big judgement training camp, those who really embrace it must ask what the most important decision is, choose an option, and then see it through. Over and over again.

And that’s not a matter of judgement at all.