Self-image. Some people are possessed with a healthy one.
An anecdote was printed on the letters page of Life magazine in 1965, after the magazine had printed a story on the scientific genius Charles Steinmetz. Jack B. Scott wrote in to tell of his father’s encounter with Steinmetz at Henry Ford’s River Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
Henry Ford’s electrical engineers couldn’t solve some problems they were having with a gigantic generator. Ford called Steinmetz in to the plant.
“He stood just four feet tall, his body contorted by a hump in his back and a crooked gait, and his stunted torso gave the illusion that his head, hands and feet were too big. But he was a giant among scientific thinkers, counting Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison as friends, and his contributions to mathematics and electrical engineering made him one of the most beloved and instantly recognizable men of his time.
“Upon arriving (at the plant), Steinmetz rejected all assistance and asked only for a notebook, pencil and cot.
“… Steinmetz listened to the generator and scribbled computations on the notepad for two straight days and nights. On the second night, he asked for a ladder, climbed up the generator and made a chalk mark on its side. Then he told Ford’s skeptical engineers to remove a plate at the mark and replace sixteen windings from the field coil. They did, and the generator performed to perfection.
“Henry Ford was thrilled until he got an invoice from (Steinmetz via) General Electric in the amount of $10,000. Ford acknowledged Steinmetz’s success but balked at the figure. He asked for an itemized bill.
“Steinmetz responded personally to Ford’s request with the following:
Making chalk mark on generator $1.
Knowing where to make mark $9,999.
Ford paid the bill. ”