One of the surest ways to achieve your own success in life is by helping others to attain theirs. Almost anyone can contribute money toward those less fortunate. But the truly affluent person is the one who can afford to give of himself, of his time and energy, to the benefit of others. In so doing he enriches himself beyond measure.
John Wanamaker, the Philadelphia merchant king, once said that the most profitable habit was that of “rendering useful service where it is not expected.” And Edward Bok, the great editor of Ladies Home Journal, said he rose from poverty to wealth through the practice of “making myself useful to others without regard to what I received in return.”
Helping Takes Effort
It takes a conscious effort to give your time and energy to others. You can’t simply say, “All right, I’m willing to help anyone who needs my help.” You must make a creative project of rendering service to your fellow man. Perhaps some down-to-earth examples will help you think of ways you can win friends by helping others. There was, for instance, a merchant in an eastern city who built a successful business through a very simple process. Every hour or so one of his clerks checked the parking meters near the store.
Pennies Win Friends
When the clerk spotted an “expired” sign, he dropped a coin in the slot, and attached a note to the car telling the owner that the merchant was pleased to protect him against the inconvenience of a traffic ticket. Many motorists dropped in to thank the merchant—and remained to buy.
The owner of a big Boston men’s store inserts a neatly printed card in the pocket of each suit he sells, It tells the purchaser that if he finds the suit satisfactory, he may bring the card back after six months and exchange it for any necktie he chooses. Naturally, the buyer always comes back pleased with the suit—and is a ripe prospect for another sale.
The highest paid woman employee of the Bankers Trust Co. in New York City got her start by offering to work three months without pay in order to demonstrate her executive ability. And Butler Stork gave of himself so freely as a prisoner in the Ohio State Penitentiary that he was released, beating a 20-year sentence for forgery. Stork organized a correspondence school that taught more than 1,000 inmates a variety of courses without charge to them or the state. He even induced the International Correspondence School to donate textbooks. The plan attracted so much attention that Stork was given his freedom as a reward.
Put Your Own Mind to Work
Assess your own ability and energy. Who needs your help? How can you help them? It doesn’t take money. All it takes is ingenuity and a strong desire to be of genuine service. Helping others solve their problems will help you solve your own.