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.”
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.