My responsibilities included sorting the mail and delivering it to the various offices. One of the partners received a monthly magazine entitled, "Bits & Pieces: A Monthly Mixture of Horse Sense and Common Sense About Working with People." (I should probably not include that I also knew the results of one of the partners' fertility test before he or even his wife! Never underestimate the lowest on the totem poll of the office.)
Unfortunately, for the partner who received the monthly "Bits & Pieces" publication, he never received it unread! It was full of one-liners, stories about leadership, and various anecdotes about the business world and life in general.
One story that I have never forgotten rad as follows:
The most successful accountant in the most prestigious accounting firm in the world was about to retire. At the start of each and every workday for the past 40 years, he took a key from his vest pocket, unlocked a drawer on the side of his desk, opened it and looked inside for just an instant, and then closed and locked the drawer. Everyone in the firm had been watching him repeat this same routine for 40 years, and everyone was convinced that the secret to his man’s success was hidden in that drawer. At the very end of his very last day, after the good-bye speeches and the presentation of the gold watch, everyone in the firm watched closely as he packed up his desk, waiting for him to open the drawer and show everyone the secret of his success. But he never opened the drawer. Instead, he took the key out of his vest pocket, placed it on top of the desk, and left the office to enjoy his retirement.
The entire office staff crowded around his desk, and with trembling hands the most senior partner of the firm carefully unlocked the drawer and peered inside, to reveal the secret of this man’s success. He saw that the drawer was empty except for a small, yellowed piece of paper with faded writing. “Read it! Read it,” cried everyone. “Tell us the secret of his success!” The partner stared carefully at the paper and read:
Debits on the Left
Credits on the Right
Could something so basic be the secret to this man's success?! Oddly, yes!
At the beginning of this man's career, he recognized he had a weakness. He simply could not remember the basic principle that debits went on the left and credits on the right. So, he had to make a choice: quit the profession, or find a way of making sure that he remembered.
In my business of Design, I am required to remember a ton of information on a daily basis, with everything from what to do for a dozen or more projects, and the clients, contractors and sub-contractors that go with those projects, to remembering to take the dog out (though he doesn't let me forget too often). I am but one person, prone to limitation and error like everyone else.
- A table of Softwood Lumber sizes photocopied from an Architectural Standards book years ago(because a 2x4 is NOT really a 2x4 but rather 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" dry.)
- A "Decimal to Inches" chart
- A "Roof Pitch Angles" chart
More recently (about 5 years ago), I added the following:
- Classical Orders terminology
- Interior Design Space Standards
At another desk that I use primarily for drawing and watercolors, I have a few more, such as a basic watercolor paint color chart.
Are such reference sheets required for success? Probably not.
What is required for success is understanding your limitations, making adjustments for them, and then focusing on your strengths.