By Joy Haney
“God loves a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7, New King James Version).
There has always been a law of the winner: go beyond mere duty give more than is required. This has been and always will be the thrust that causes one to rise higher than the norm. The runner who keeps running in spite of an injury, the mother who continues even when it is a sacrifice, a president who forges ahead no matter what the opposition, someone who is falsely accused and keeps persisting in what he knows to be right: these all go beyond what is required of them.
Those who win and are successful in life are those who chose to give, even when it is backbreaking work or less than desirable conditions. Winners do not always choose conditions; they conquer them, sometimes even making them. This is the case in the story of Edward H. Harriman. Harriman was born in 1848, and at age fourteen, he began work as an office boy in a New York brokerage house. Eight years later he bought his own seat on the New York Stock Exchange, and in 1879 married Mary Averell, the daughter of the president of the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad.
In 1881 Harriman bought control of the Sodus Bay and Southern Railroad, a short line running south from the shore of Lake Ontario. He improved the line and then set the New York Central and Pennsylvania bidding against each other for it. Penny bought it, and Harriman soon went after a larger railroad, the Illinois Central. By 1883 he was on the IC’s board of directors. In 1898 Harriman took over the Union Pacific. In 1901 Harriman bought the Southern Pacific and shortly afterward bought the Central Pacific. Harriman was not one to buy a railroad for a quick profit. He believed that the financial yield would be considerably greater if the railroad’s property was improved and its affairs well managed. Harriman established standards for locomotives, cars, bridges, structures, signals, and even such items as paint and stationery. From an office boy, he rose to be a railroad tycoon. Harriman’s philosophy is depicted in the following quote:
To achieve what the world calls success a man must attend strictly to business and keep a little in advance of the times. The man who reaches the top is the one who is not content with doing what is required of him. He does more.
– Edward H. Harriman (1848-1909) Railroad tycoon
Doing more always demands diligence and fortitude. Anyone who wants to lead a pampered life, flitting about doing basically nothing except seeking to have a good time, will eventually lose the very essence of life. Life is not about preserving self and hoarding it, but life is to be spent or given to a worthy cause. This concept is not new. Jesus taught it to His disciples in Luke 9:24: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” The principle is simply to live for a greater cause than self. When lives only for self, it is a miserable existence. The saved life is lost and never accomplishes anything.
Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved.
– D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) English writer
To be truly rich and have a sense of fulfillment, there must always be a giving of self and a spending of one’s time. J. B. Priestley once wrote: “To me there is in happiness an element of self-forgetfulness. You lose yourself in something outside yourself when you are happy, just as when you are desperately miserable you are intensely conscious of yourself, are a solid little lump of ego weighing a ton.” It is not just an inflated ego that can cause unhappiness but also a low self-esteem that stems from an obsession with one’s flaws. This limits an individual and somewhat paralyzes him from moving forward and being successfully happy. It is not the saving of one’s self or the obsession with self, but the spending of it on something outside of self that brings true rewards.
In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.
– Henry Ward Beecher
“Give, and it shall be given,” was first penned in Luke 6:38. The principle still applies, even in this generation. There must first be a giving of something before anything can be received. When you look at someone who has succeeded at something, he will always tell you what it took for him to get there. It was not ease and self-preservation; it was giving beyond what was required.
No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he
– Calvin Coolidge (18724933) 30th President of the United States
The people who get what they desire will always give more than what is required. It isn’t, “How much?” It is, “No matter what it takes, I’m getting it!” This is epitomized in the statement of the editor of the abolitionist paper, The Liberator. William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) once sold his bed and slept on the floor to buy more newsprint to publish his attacks on slavery. His epitaph cites the courage of honest conviction: “I am in earnest. . . . I will not retreat a single step, and I will be heard.”
William did what he could, even if it took going beyond what was required of him to do. His purpose was greater than his sacrifice. When the crowd is crying that it cannot be done and the task looks insurmountable, just do what you can do. You cannot do everything, but you can do something. That is the measure for your life. You cannot compare yourself with others, but try to outdistance your previous performance. Just do what you have to do wherever you are and do not wait for a better opportunity, for as you do so, a better opportunity will appear.
There is nothing to be gained by wishing you were someplace else or waiting for a better situation. You see where you are and you do what you can with that.
– Jacob K. Javits (1904-1986) US Senator
Your contribution is important, and it is not just for the now. Everything each of us does can touch and will touch someone else; if not now, in some distant future. Longfellow reminded us that if we do something now, maybe in the future that act will affect some poor, discouraged soul:
Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime and, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time. Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, seeing, shall take heart again.
If all the inventors, scientists, clergymen, presidents, and other people in the world who enrich other lives decided that they were only one person and could not do much, things would be in a sorry state of affairs. It is essential that everyone do what he can do and not worry that what he is doing matters. It does matter. Everyone working together doing what each can do will bring good into every life that is touched.
I am only one; but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.
-Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909)75 American author
Do what you can do! You want to sing but cannot; then do not sing.
You want to write but cannot; then do not write.
You want to be politician but cannot; then do not run for office.
But find out what you can do, and do it with all your might!
Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
– John Wooden (1910- ?) American basketball coach
Why be silent when you can speak? Why hang back cowardly when you can advance? Why shrivel when you can grow? Why hide like a fox in a den when you can go forth conquering? Why stagnate when fresh ideas are there to grasp? Why be overwhelmed when victory is for the taking?
He who is silent is forgotten; . . . he who does not advance falls back; he who stops is overwhelmed, distanced, crushed; he who ceases to grow greater becomes smaller; he who leaves off, give up; the stationary condition is the beginning of the end.
– Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss poet and philosopher, professor at Geneva Academy
If a person can do more than what he is doing, he needs to be prodded, for it is never good to be less than what one can be. God desires for His children to become what He created them to be. The stretching, the reaching, and the going beyond should rule the consciousness of every person.
It is right to be contented with what we have, never with what we are.
-Sir James Mackintosh (1765-1832) Scottish statesman and historian
The important thing is for every individual to take stock of his or her own qualities, talents, aptitude, and gifts and then work toward doing something that would enhance those natural abilities. The moment is now, not in some distant future. If everyone waits for that magic moment, it rarely appears. Just plunge in, and go for it with gusto and zest!
The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had the means, time, influence, and educational advantages; the question is what will he do with the things he has? The moment a young man . . . resolutely looks his conditions in the face, and resolves to chance them, he lays the cornerstone of a solid and honorable success.
-Hamilton Wright Mabie (1845-1960) Lawyer, editor, and author
There have been some who have thrown their energy into their lives’ dreams and have been successful; then tragedy overtook them. So what do they do? They have two choices: give up, exist, and even become bitter, or work at finding success in another area that would bring them fulfillment. People do not choose tragedies or disasters, but sometimes they come.
Example of This:
A member of the Olympic ice-skating team of 1924, Valentine Bialis, was acclaimed the fastest man on skates. Everywhere he was idolized and honored as king of the ice. Eight years later, as he was preparing to take top honors as ice-skating champion of the world, Valentine Bialis was driving home one dark, drizzly night. The road and his windshield were slowly coating with ice. Suddenly he heard the screech of a train whistle. He jammed on his brakes and skidded right into the path of an engine. He was rushed to the hospital seriously injured. He came out of the hospital minus a leg. Gone were his hopes of a championship. He tried to make a comeback skating with one wooden leg, but it was impossible.
Some time later, however, Bialis appeared in the headline of the paper in a small mid-western town. He had won a local tennis tournament. He had failed, through cruel fate, to win a skating championship, but did what he could do and continued to compete in another sport and became tennis champ in a small town. All was not lost, because he refused to give up! It is the fiber or steel inside a person that is able to refuse to give in to misfortune. To be able to find a new life and to put away the one that brought joy and be fulfillment, then to pursue another profession demand sheer willpower and determination. It takes spirit and courage to go forward when a situation dictates otherwise.
A man in earnest finds means, or, if he cannot find, creates them. A vigorous purpose makes much out of little, breathes power into weak instruments, disarms difficulties, and even turns them into assistances. Every condition has means of progress, if we have spirit enough to use them.
– William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) American author
There is no one who can put the will to go forward inside the victim of loss or failure. People can encourage, books can be read, others can coach and give inspiring speeches, but the fire must ignite within the one who has suffered losses in order for him to be able to have the ability to go beyond the hardship and do what he can do with what is left.
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.
– Abraham Lincoln
Whatever it is you want bad enough, be willing to give more than what is demanded of you. Give when others tell you to slow down. Give when others sit and complain of the conditions. Give when everything dictates to you to retreat; push forward anyhow. Do not let the circumstances dictate to you or the difficulties of the race intimidate you, but push forward with all your might and you will win!
Be not content with doing your duty. . . . Do more. It is the horse that finishes a neck ahead that wins the race.
– Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) Scottish-born American industrialist and philanthropist
Success Story: Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie was not content with his life. He had five years’ schooling in Dumferline, Scotland, where his father wove damask linens in a home shop. In 1848, when Carnegie was thirteen, his family moved to the United States. The father was forty-three at the time of emigration, the mother ten years younger. For an immigrant, the father was too old to start anew, and he drifted helplessly, first finding work as an operative in a cotton mill. It was hard, and he returned to his home hand loom, peddling his wares from door to door.
Andrew went to work in the cotton mill as a bobbin boy at $1.20 a week. The only other formal learning Andrew had was six months in night school (where he was taught double-entry bookkeeping) and some private French lessons. Yet Andrew Carnegie eventually became a highly educated man. He read and learned Shakespeare and poetry, was versed in the classics, and began to collect prints and sculpture and to buy books. Some of his earliest benefactions were the establishment of public libraries and the Carnegie Institute, to include a library, art gallery, music hall, and a museum of natural history, in Pittsburgh.
Because of his father’s failure and because of his deep devotion to a mother who kept the little family together in its early years of struggle, Carnegie had a fierce desire to succeed. He acquired skills as he went along and impressed those he worked for with his resourcefulness. He became a telegraph messenger boy; at fifteen a telegraph operator; and at eighteen, the confidential clerk of Thomas A. Scott, the superintendent of the western division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, at that time in the process of building its line across the Alleghenies.
Carnegie was making $40 a month (Scott was getting $125) and was the head of the household. He purchased a home for his mother and father (the price was $700, the down payment $100); he saved money; at twenty, he made his first investment he bought ten shares of Adams Express Company.
When he was twenty-one, in 1856, he was already an entrepreneur. He had met T. T. Woodruff, the inventor of the sleeping car, and had persuaded Scott, now the general superintendent of the Pennsylvania, to buy two sleeping cars; Woodruff had offered Carnegie a one-third share in his company. Carnegie went to one of the local banks to finance his first payment. He received a little more than $200 on his personal note; it was the first of many similar transactions that marked the early years of his climb. Carnegie’s young manhood was spent with the railroad industry.
In 1859, Scott, his mentor and friend, became vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Carnegie succeeded him as manager of the western division. In 1861 he went with Scott to Washington: Scott in charge of military transportation for the Department of the Army, Carnegie specifically responsible for the operation of military railways and telegraphs. In 1862, Carnegie returned to the Pennsylvania and remained with it for another three years.
Carnegie went into iron manufacture at the same time only because the development and future of the railroad industry were linked with iron. With others (his brother Tom included) he set up a small wrought-iron company, then another company to make structural shapes, then one to make iron rails, and still another to make locomotives. The most important was the Keystone Bridge Company, formed in 1863, in which Carnegie had a one-fifth share. Carnegie made a fateful decision: to concentrate on the manufacture of iron and steel and be master in that. This was the beginning of his success story.
On December 17, 1896, The Iron Age, the technical periodical of the industry, after watching Carnegie build bridges, organize new businesses, and introduce mass production, reported that the Carnegie leases and other holdings gave his company “a position unequaled by any steel producer in the world. “In his lifetime he gave away $350 million to fund libraries, museums and art institutes, pure research, education, and college professors. Nothing can stop a winner! The giving and going beyond always reap great benefits and rewards. The one, who presses on, with victory in mind, will eventually come out on top because of the unchangeable reaping and sowing process.
It is more blessed to give than to receive. – Acts 20:35
Happiness is a sunbeam which may pass through a thousand bosoms without losing a particle of its original ray; nay, when it strikes a kindred art, like the converged light upon a
It is more blessed to give than to receive. – Acts 20:35
Happiness is a sunbeam which may pass through a thousand bosoms without losing a particle of its original ray; nay, when it strikes a kindred art, like the converged light upon a mirror, it reflects itself with redoubled brightness. It is not perfected till it is shared.
– Jane Porter
The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.
– Walt Whitman
There is a wonderful, mystical law of nature that the three things we have most in life happiness, freedom, and peace of mind are always attained by giving them to someone else.
This article “Give More Than Is Required” was taken from “Seeds for Success” by Joy Haney and may only be used for research and study purposes only.