We measure a man's height in centimeters or inches. Pounds and ounces or grams and centigrams offer us exact standards of measuring his weight. But there are no absolute standards for measuring the man himself, and probably there never can be. Human values, therefore, can be standardized only relatively. By the study of large groups we can, however, ascertain approximately the average or normal.
Some people have fine intellects, capable of great accomplishments in the way of education and training. They are particularly fitted for intellectual work; they have mental grasp; they comprehend; they reason; they have good judgment; they learn easily; they remember well. In every way their intellects are active, energetic, capable. Other people have only moderate intellectual capacity. They express themselves best in physical activity or in the direct, man-to-man handling of others. Their few intellectual activities may be exceedingly keen and accurate—or slow, dull, and vague. People with small intellectual capacity sometimes have remarkable vigor and clearness of mind in some one direction—such as finance, promotion, commerce; judgment of people, horses, cattle, or other living beings; mechanics, invention, music, art, poetry, or some other narrow specialty. Some intellects, in other words, are simply incompetent—others, merely narrow.
People can also be divided, intellectually, into two other classes, the theoretical and the practical. The man with a theoretical intellect is thoughtful, meditative, reflective. His mind works slowly; it is interested in philosophy, in theories, in abstractions, and is capable of dealing with them. On the other hand, it is not particularly well qualified for observing practical things, and for making a practical application of the theories it learns so easily and in which it takes so great an interest. This is the intellect of the philosopher, the dreamer, the educator, the preacher, the writer, the reformer, the poet. This is particularly the intellect of reason, of logic, of ideas and ideals. Whether found amongst the world's leaders or in the lowliest walks of life, its function is always that of dealing with theory, finding out reasons, putting together logical arguments, teaching others and dealing with abstractions. Oftentimes this type of intellect is so impractical that its possessor never possesses anything else. Literature abounds in the tragic tales of philosophers, poets, reformers, and dreamers who starved beautifully and nobly. Every-day life sees thousands more blundering along, either cursing their luck or wondering why Providence withholds its material gifts from people so deserving as they.
Some intellects are particularly fine in critical powers; some have splendid financial ability; some are artistic and musical; some have almost miraculous instinct in mechanical affairs; some are scientific; others are mechanical; still others are inventive. There are many intellects, of course, which combine two or more of these qualities, as, for instance, an intellect blessed with both financial and organizing ability. This is the intellect of the captain of industry, of the multi-millionaire. Then there is the intellect which combines financial, inventive, and organizing ability.
Emotional requirements are many and varied; even more numerous and of greater variety than intellectual requirements, perhaps. Some vocations require great courage, others not; some require a great deal of sympathy; others demand a certain hardness and control of the sympathies. There are vocations which require a keen sense of justice; others in which the presence or absence of a sense of justice is not essential. And so, there must be taken into consideration requirements for honor, for love, for loyalty, for dependableness, for enthusiasm, for unselfishness, for caution, for prudence, for religion, for faith, for hope, for optimism, for cheerfulness, for contentment, for earnestness, and for reverence.
Honesty is laid down by all authorities on employment as absolutely essential to success in any vocation, but there are many kinds of honesty and many standards of honesty. As a matter of fact, each man has his own standard of honesty. After all, it is, perhaps, not so much a question of what a man's standards are as how well he lives up to them.
(Adapted from The Project Gutenberg eBook, Analyzing Character, by Katherine M. H. Blackford and Arthur Newcomb, 1922)