If it’s difficult for you to share with others what you’ve worked hard for, I’ve got a priceless lesson for you.
It starts with an Aesop’s fable and it’s followed by an amazing story about one of the richest men in U.S. history, Andrew Carnegie.
In the Aesop’s fable, a stingy man owned a gold nugget but rather than allow himself to enjoy the value it could provide, he buried it. Each day, he’d dig it up to look at it and assure himself it was still there.
Then one day, he dug but couldn’t find it for it had been stolen. As he cried out, a man heard him and said, “I’m sorry for your loss but don’t be so sad. Bury a rock in its place for it will serve you every bit as well.”
As you consider this Aesop’s fable, now the Andrew Carnegie story:
In 1848, 12-year old Carnegie came to the U.S. from Scotland with his parents and his younger brother. The family was destitute and settled in the squalor of a Pittsburgh neighborhood called Slabtown.
Even to put food on the table was a terrible struggle and young Andy dropped out of grade school and got a job. 12 hours a day, he stoked red-hot boilers in a dark, dirty cellar in a textile company.
The work was dangerous for at any moment, a boiler might explode killing or severely injuring anyone near it. Carnegie would have nightmares about that boiler room for the rest of his life.
His boyhood poverty made him a tough, tight fisted businessman. Long after he became wealthy, he essentially hoarded his money and was despised by many for his miserly ways.
How miserly was he? Young Carnegie got out of that terrible boiler room and got a job delivering telegrams. Tom Scott, superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad Western Division saw how he delivered those telegrams with energy and enthusiasm and hired him.
Scott liked him, called him “my boy Andy,” paid him well, promoted him and as Scott rose to Vice President, he took Carnegie up the ranks with him.
When Carnegie was starting to invest, Scott loaned him money and put the prestige of his name and that of the railroad behind Carnegie’s ventures. Carnegie became a very wealthy man.
But later, Scott had the misfortune of investing in a troubled Texas railroad. He approached his close friend Carnegie and asked for his help. Scott was stunned when Carnegie wouldn’t invest a dime nor help him in any way.
Not only was it a financial disaster for Scott, he felt betrayed by Carnegie, his business associate of 20 years. Scott was a broken man.
But Carnegie would later say, “All my capital was in manufacturing,” as he’d moved on to greater opportunities and simply slammed the door on his mentor, rather than part with any money.
But as Carnegie grew older, he began to feel differently and opened his wallet. For example, in 1889 he funded the construction of Carnegie Hall, the world famous New York music center.
Then in 1901, at the age of 65, a dramatic transformation took place. He sold his ownership in Carnegie Steel to J.P. Morgan and Carnegie became one of the wealthiest men in U.S. history.
But instead of reveling in his money, Carnegie aggressively gave it away.
To illustrate the point, at that time, there were few free pubic libraries anywhere. Books were for the wealthy. Carnegie built 2,509 free libraries across the U. S. and overseas so the public would have access to knowledge on a scale unparalleled in history.
To help uplift African Americans, Carnegie donated money to Booker T. Washington to greatly expand Tuskegee College and educate vastly more black students.
He financed the founding of what became Carnegie Mellon University and donated to museums, schools and research facilities.
Carnegie believed World War 1 and its massive carnage was unnecessary and gave heavily to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and to other organizations seeking world peace.
Aside from the money he left to The Carnegie Foundation, which continues his donations today, and an inheritance for his wife and his daughter, Carnegie gave-away nearly all of his fortune. He said, “The man who dies… rich dies disgraced.”
Success Tip of the Week: Why did Carnegie give-away his fortune? I think he saw the difference it could make in the lives of so many others and helping them brought far greater meaning to his life than the money ever could.
You don’t have to be rich to experience this feeling. Donate blankets, socks or gloves to a rescue mission to offer warmth to people in need. And/or donate new toys or books to a mission and see the homeless children treasure your gifts.
Whatever your generosity, like Carnegie, deep inside you’ll feel really good for what you’ve done, one act of kindness at a time.
In the next KazanToday, The paralyzed man who found joy in life and is achieving far more than most able bodied people.