Henry Noll

Work Harder.

What i learned from Henry Noll:

Work Harder.

I wonder what Henry Noll would have thought of todays workers?
The phrase "Work Smarter not Harder" might amuse him as much as it does me. Those who espouse it cast aspersions on the intellect of this noble soul. I humbly rush to Henry's defense. The phrase
"Work Smarter NOT Harder" is built upon a number of premises:
  • Working Harder is onerous.
  • Working Smarter implies intellectual superiority over those that choose to work harder whatever their reasons may be.
  • Working Harder AND Smarter are mutually exclusive.

Why Not Work Harder AND Smarter?

Henry Noll is often lauded as the hardest worker in history. Although Alexei Stakhavov of the Soviet mines has also laid claim to the title while digging 102 tons of coal out of the Ukrainian rock regularly during his six hour shifts. Alexei was held up, by Josef Stalin, as the purest example of the communist work ethic. But our very own Henry Noll, a steel worker who every day lifted and loaded tons of pig iron onto railroad cars is the most documented and studied of workers primarily due to "The Principles of Scientific Management" an academic tome, published in 1911, which documented his accomplishments. Normal laborers at the time were loading 12 tons a day onto the railroad carts and earning 50 cents for their trouble. It was backbreaking work performed during the bitter cold Pennsylvania Winters. During a local railroad construction project management noticed an additional 80,000 tons needed to be moved from the yard and so they offered anyone who could move 45 tons during their shift $1.85 per day compared to the standard 50 cents. Many tried - but they all shunned the offer after a grueling and backbreaking day of failing to meet the mark. Henry Noll did it every day, without exception, amazing everyone, and much to the chagrin of his coworkers, reinforcing what could be done when an indomitable will, and a determined mind meets a strong backbone.

And in his spare time Henry, took his earnings, went out and single handedly built a home for his family across the river at Martins Lane.

A Smart Guy that Henry.
A Tough Guy that Henry.

Henry Noll loaded 45 tons of iron a day while others loaded 12.
Henry earned 1.85 while the others earned 50 cents.

Henry did what others Can't or Won't.

Work Harder.

That's what I learned from Henry Noll.

(My thanks to Richard Donkin, formerly of the Financial Times, whose blog and article on the hardest worker in history inspired this piece.)

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