Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Desire of Pleasing

Next to a Bible, an almanac was the most important publication in most households in 19th Century rural America. It was a guide to farming life, and offered all sorts of practical advice and information, much of it timeless and all of it short and to the point.

For instance, the now musty and stained pages of an 1855 Old Farmer’s Almanac offer this simple suggestion about “Help and Hired People”: “These are more likely to be praised into good conduct than scolded out of bad. Always commend them when they do right. To cherish the desire of pleasing in them, you must show them that you are pleased. This applies equally well to children.”

In the 20th Century, scores of books were written on corporate management and child rearing that say little more than those 44 words in a 146-year-old farmers’ handbook.

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