100 Rules of Success: Giving Back and Never Giving Up

What follows is the continuation of success habits that will become part of a book I’m writing, “100 Rules of Success”.

As I’ve mentioned many times, success is not necessarily about wealth accumulation.  We all know someone who is very successful financially, but who is very unhappy in life.  One example is J. Paul Getty, who was at one time, reportedly the richest person in the world. He achieved a negative form of fame when he refused to pay ransom for his kidnapped grandson and only relented after much negotiation (from $17 million down to $2.8 million…when his estimated net worth was in excess of $1 billion) and after the kidnappers cut off the grandson’s ear and mailed it to him!  He died a lonely man, estranged from most of his family surrounded by treasures he had collected all his adult life.

Rule:  Harness the Power of ‘Giving Back’

I was a couple of years out of college and into my first job when my father asked me, “Son, how much are you giving to the church?”  This was one of his easier questions… “None”, was my response.  My father was a big believer in tithing to the church.  He told me that, in his experience, giving to the church created its own rewards.  More specifically he said, “Stewart, you can’t out-give God.”  And then he challenged me to give systematically for the next twelve months and, if at the end of that time I did not feel like I had been blessed, to simply stop giving.  I’ve been giving ever since.  I eventually came to understand a principle that he was describing…sometimes referred to as the Law of Reciprocity.  My rough translation goes something like this: What you give out, comes back to you multi-fold.  If you give out kindness, kindness will come back to you multi-fold.  The opposite is also true.  If you give out meanness, meanness will come back to you.    You see, the Law of Reciprocity does not discriminate between the positive and negative…it only reflects back to you what you give away.  This also works in the area of your personal finances.  Over the past forty-plus years, I’ve noticed that the most successful people are often the biggest givers to charities and religious organizations.  The question is, “Did they wait until they were wealthy to begin giving?  Or did their giving when they had few financial resources contribute to their becoming wealthy?” In my experience, they were ‘givers’ long before they acquired wealth.

Consider the possibility of committing a portion of your income to an organization or a cause that for which you feel passionate.  Give it a try…see what happens.  I believe you’ll find that the Law of Reciprocity is a secret weapon in your financial arsenal.  You’ll be blessed financially as well as emotionally.

Rule: Adopt the Philosophy: Never Give Up!

Beginning after college graduation, I became an avid ‘goal-setter’.  I started with a bucket list of all the things I wanted to accomplish in my life.  It was a time to dream…and dream big!  I then picked a few items that I wanted to accomplish in the coming year and outlined an ‘action list’ with timetables for getting them done.  What I noticed over time was that most often, I was overly optimistic in how quickly I could achieve a particular goal.  It always seemed to take longer that I thought.  Then I noticed that I wasn’t the only one with this problem and that many people simple ‘ran out of gas’ and gave up before crossing the finish line.  This is most evident with New Year’s Resolutions.  To overcome this, I adopted the philosophy of ‘Never Give Up!’ As a reminder, I kept a photo of a crane with a frog in his mouth but the frog has its hands around the crane’s throat with the caption, Never Give Up!  One example for me was my goal to become a blackbelt in karate.  My goal was to achieve this within one year…seamed reasonable to me!  I went to classes religiously and took belt ranking test on schedule.  But under my instructor, a 10th degree blackbelt from Korea, you had to be ‘invited’ to test for blackbelt and in his mind I was not ready for a full four years!  Honestly, I think he had pity on me because I was so persistent!  He finally allowed me to test and I managed to pass (he had pity once more?).

Here’s the takeaway.  Get very clear on exactly what you want then never give up until you complete it and realize that many things take longer (often much longer) than you anticipate.