Five Lessons from, "A Message to Garcia"

It is not a “millenials” problem, it’s a people problem. We seem to constantly hear the millenials getting blamed for a poor work ethic. However, a book published in 1899 shows that the problem of poor work ethic and lack of quality in workmanship has been a people problem throughout the history of humanity.

A Message to Garcia, has long held a place on the Marine Corps Commandant’s reading list.  Written by Elbert Hubbard, this is short parable of a man named Rowan who must get a message to a man named Garcia. The parable presents the lessons learned through Rowans diligence and success in accomplishing the task he was assigned and agreed to complete.

The opening paragraph sets the scene:

When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents.  Garcia was somewhere in the mountain fastness of Cuba - no one knew where. No mail or telegraph message could reach him. The PResident must secure his co-operation, and quickly. What to do!

Someone said to the President, “There is a fellow by the name of Rowan who will find Garcia for you, if anybody can....”

“...The point that I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, “Where is he at?”

This short booklet provides a wealth of value into the insight of human behavior and work.  All people entering the workforce would be well served to read and observe the statutes presented within its pages.  This booklet serves as a great reminder and motivator of the importance of the work we do, and why we must strive to be the best at what we do.  

Here are 5 lessons learned about work from, A Message to Garcia:

Attitude -- “If you work for a man, in Heaven’s name work for him. If he pays wages that supply you your bread and butter, work for him, speak well of him, think well of him, and stand by him, and and stand by the institution he represents.”

Competence -- “...but out and forever out the incompetent and unworthy go. It is survival of the fittest. Self-interest prompts every employer to keep the best - those who can carry a message to Garcia.”

Motivation -- “...He is impervious to reason, and the only thing that can impress him is the toe of a thick-soled Number Nine boot.”

Demand -- “Civilization is one long, anxious search for just such individuals. Anything wuch a man asks shall be granted. His kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go.  He is wanted in every city, town, and village - in every office, shop, store and factory.”

Accomplishment -- “It is not book learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing.”