Today, I will be doing a review of the book entitled, ‘How to stop worrying and start living’ by Dale Carnegie. It will be the first review in this series, thou I previously emphasized this.
We shall specifically look at the section that goes deep into THE DANGER of WORRY, from which we will learn that if you have time to LEAN, you have time to CLEAN.
You will also learn that FAILURE is an EVENT, NOT an IDENTITY and the power of resting before you get tired. Above all, you will learn that today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
How John D. Rockefeller Lived on Borrowed Time for Forty-five Years
John D. Rockefeller, Sr., had accumulated his first million at the age of thirty-three. At the age of forty-three, he had built the largest monopoly the world has ever seen, the great Standard Oil Company. But where was he at fifty-three? Worry had got him at fifty-three. Worry and high-tension living had already wrecked his health. At fifty-three, ‘he looked like a mummy,’ says John K. Winkler, one of his biographers.
At fifty-three, Rockefeller was attacked by mystifying digestive maladies that swept away his hair, even the eyelashes and all but a faint wisp of the eyebrow. ‘So serious was his condition,’ says Winkler, ‘that at one time John D. was compelled to exist on human milk. ‘According to the doctors, he had alopecia, a form of baldness that often starts with sheer nerves. He looked so startling, with his stark bald dome, that he had to wear a skullcap. Later, he had wigs-at $500 a piece and for the rest of his life, he wore these silver wigs.
Blessed with an Iron Constitution
Rockefeller had originally been blessed with an iron constitution. Reared on a far, he had once had stalwart shoulders, an erect carriage, and a strong, brisk gait.
Yet at only fifty-three, when most men are at their prime-his shoulders drooped and he shambled when he walked. ‘When he looked in a glass,’ says John T. Flynn, another of his biographers, ‘he saw an old man. The ceaseless work, the endless worry, the streams of abuse, the sleepless nights, and the lack of exercise and rest’ had exacted their toll; they have brought him to his knees.
He was now the richest man in the world, yet he had to live on a diet that a pauper would have scorned. His income at that time was a million dollars a week-but two dollars a week would probably have paid for all the food he could eat.
Acidulated milk and a few crackers were all the doctors would allow him. His skin lost its color. It looked like old parchment drawn tight across the bones. And nothing but medical care, the best money could buy, kept him from almost dying at the age of fifty-three.
How did it happen?
Worry. Shock. High pressure and high tension living. He ‘drove’ himself literally to the edge of the grave. Even at the age of twenty-three, Rockefeller was already pursuing his goal with such grim determination that, according to those who knew him, ‘nothing lightened his countenance save news of a good bargain.’ When he made a big profit, he would do a little war dance-throw his hat on the floor and break into a jig. But if he lost money, he was ill! He once shipped $40,000 worth of grain by way of the Great Lakes. No insurance. It cost too much: $150.
That night, a vicious storm raged over Lake ERIE. Rockefeller was so worried about losing his cargo that when his partner, George Gardner, reached the office in the morning, he found John D. there, pacing the floor.
‘Hurry,’ he quavered. ‘Let’s see if we can take out insurance now if it isn’t too late!’ Gardner rushed uptown and got the insurance: but when he returned to the office, he found John D. in an even worse state of nerves. A telegram had arrived in the meantime: the cargo had landed, safe from the storm. He was sicker than ever now because they had ‘wasted’ the $150.
In fact, he was so sick about it that he had to go home and take to his bed. Think of it! At that time, his firm was doing a gross business of $500,000 a year-yet he made himself so ill over $150 that he had to go to bed.
No Time for Play
He had no time for recreation, no time for anything except making money and teaching Sunday school. When his partner, George Gardner, purchased a second-hand yacht, with three other men, for $2,000, John D. was aghast, refused to go out in it. Gardner found him working at the office one Saturday afternoon, and pleaded, ‘Come on, John, let’s go for a sail. It will do you good. Forget about business. Have a little fun.’ Rockefeller glared. ‘George Gardner,’ he warned, ‘you are the most extravagant man I ever knew. You are injuring your credit at the banks-and my credit too. The first thing you know, you’ll be wrecking our business.
No, I won’t go on your yacht – I don’t ever want to see it!’ And he stayed plugging in the office all Saturday afternoon. The same lack of humor, the same lack of perspective, characterized John D. all through his business career. Years later, he said, ‘I never placed my head upon the pillow at night without reminding myself that my success might be only temporary.’
With millions at his command, he never put his head upon his pillow without worrying about losing his fortune. No wonder worry wrecked his health. He had no time for play or recreation, never went to the theatre, never played cards, never went to a party. As Mark Hanna said, the man was mad about money. ‘Sane in every other respect, but mad about money.
He wanted to be Loved
Rockefeller had once confessed to a neighbor in Cleveland, Ohio, that he ‘wanted to be loved,’ yet he was so cold and suspicious that few people even liked him. Morgan once balked at having to do business with him at all. ‘I don’t like the man,’ he snorted. ‘I don’t want to have any dealings with him.’
Rockefeller’s own brother hated him so much that he removed his children’s bodies from the family plot. ‘No one of my blood,’ he said, ‘will ever rest in land controlled by John D.’ Rockefeller’s employees and associates lived in holy fear of him, and here is the ironic part: he was afraid of them– afraid they would talk outside the office and ‘give secrets away.’ He had so little faith in human nature that once, when he signed a ten-year contract with an independent refiner, he made the man promise not to tell anyone. Not even his wife! ‘Shut your mouth and run your business’ – that was his motto.
Then at the very peak of his prosperity, with gold flowing into his coffers like hot yellow lava pouring down the sides of Vesuvius, his private world collapsed. Books and articles denounced the robber-baron war of the Standard Oil Company! –secret rebates with railroads, the ruthless crushing of all rivals.
The most hated man in Pennsylvania
In the oilfields of Pennsylvania, John D. Rockefeller was the most hated man on earth. He was hanged in effigy by the men he had crushed. Many of them logged to tie a rope around his withered neck and hang him to the limb of a sour apple. Letters breathing fire and brimstone poured into his office-letters threatening his life. He hired bodyguards to keep his enemies from killing him.
He attempted to ignore this cyclone of hate. He had once said cynically, ‘You may kick me and abuse me provided you will let me have my own way.’ But he discovered he was human after all. He couldn’t take hate-and worry too. His health begun to crack. He was puzzled and bewildered by this new enemy – illness – which attacked him from within. At first, he remained secretive about his occasional indispositions, tried to put his illness out of his mind.
But insomnia, indigestion, and the loss of his hair – all physical symptoms of worry and collapse – were not to be denied. Finally, his doctors told him the shocking truth. He could take his choice: his money and his worries or his life. They warned him: he must either retire or die. He retired.
Worry, Greed, Fear had already wrecked his Health
But before he retired, worry, greed, fear had already wrecked his health. When Ida Tarbell, America’s most celebrated female writer of biographies, saw him, she was shocked. She wrote: ‘An awful age was in his face. He was the oldest man I have ever seen.’ Old? Why? Rockefeller was then several years younger than General MacArthur was when he recaptured the Philippines!
But he was such a physical wreck that Ida Tarbell pitied him. She was working at that time on her powerful book which condemned the Standard Oil and all that it stood for; she certainly had no cause to love the man who had built up this ‘octopus.’Yet, she said that when she saw John D. Rockefeller teaching a Sunday – school class, eagerly searching the faces of all those around him – ‘I had a feeling which I had not expected, and which time intensified. I was sorry for him. I know no companion so terrible as fear.
When the doctors undertook to save Rockefeller’s life, they gave him three rules – three rules which he observed to the letter, for the rest of his life. Here they are;
- Avoid worry. Never worry about anything, under any kind of circumstances.
- Relax and take plenty of mild exercise in the open air.
- Watch your diet. Always stop eating while you’re still a little hungry.
John D. Rockefeller obeyed those rules, and they probably saved his life. He retired.He learned to play golf. He went in for gardening. He chatted with his neighbors. He played games. He sang songs.
But he did something else too
‘During days of torture and nights of insomnia,’ says Winkler, ‘John D. had time for reflection.’ He began to think of other people. He stopped thinking, for once, of how much money he could get; and he began to wonder how much that money he would buy in terms of human happiness.
In short, Rockefeller now began to give his millions away! Some of the time it wasn’t easy. When he offered money to a church, pulpits all over the country thundered back with cries of ‘tainted money!’ But he kept on giving. He learned of a starving little college on the shores of Lake Michigan that was being foreclosed because of its mortgage.
He came to its rescue and poured millions of dollars into that college and built it into the now world-famous University of Chicago. He tried to help the Negroes. He gave money to Negro universities like Tuskegee College, where funds were needed to carry on the work of George Washington Carver. He helped to fight hookworm. When Dr. Charles W. Stiles, the hookworm authority, said, “Fifty cents?’ the worth of medicine will cure a man of this disease which ravages the South – but who will give the fifty cents?’ Rockefeller gave it.
He spent millions on hookworm, stamping out the greatest scourge that has ever handicapped the South. And then he went further. He established a great international foundation – the Rockefeller Foundation – which was to fight disease and ignorance all over the world.
Never before in history has there ever been anything even remotely like Rockefeller Foundation. It is something unique. Rockefeller Foundation. It is something unique. Rockefeller knew that all over the world, there are many fine movements that men of vision start.
Research is undertaken; colleges are founded; doctors struggle on to fight a disease – but only too often this high-minded work has to die for lack of funds. He decided to help these pioneers of humanity – not to ‘take them over,’ but to give them some money and help them help themselves.Today you and I can thank John D. Rockefeller for the miracles of penicillin, and for dozens of other discoveries which his money helped to finance.
You can thank him for the fact that your children no longer die from spinal meningitis, a disease that used to kill four out of five. And you can thank him for part of the inroads we made on malaria and tuberculosis, on influenza and diphtheria and many other diseases that still plague the world.
And what about Rockefeller? When he gave his money away, did he gain peace of mind? Yes, he was contented at last. ‘If the public thought of him after 1900 as brooding over the attacks on the Standard Oil,’ said Allan Nevins, ‘the public was much mistaken.’
Rockefeller was happy. He had changed so completely that he didn’t worry at all. In fact, he refused even to lose one night’s sleep when he was forced to accept the greatest defeat of his career!
The Defeat of Standard Oil
The defeat came when the corporation he had built, the huge Standard Oil, was ordered to pay ‘the heaviest fine in history.’ According to the United States Government, the Standard Oil was a monopoly, in direct violation of antitrust laws. The battle raged for five years. The best legal brains in the land fought on interminably in what was, up to then, the longest court war in history. But Standard Oil lost.
When Judge Kenesaw Mountain Land is handed down his decision, lawyers for the defense feared that old John D. would take it very hard. But they didn’t know how much he’d changed.
That night one of the lawyers got John D. on phone. He discussed the decision as gently as he could, and then said with concern, ‘I hope you won’t let this decision upset you, Mr. Rockefeller. I hope you’ll get your night’s sleep!’ And old John D.? Why, he crackled right back across the wire, ‘Don’t worry. Mr. Johnson, I intend to get a night’s sleep. And don’t let it bother you either. Good night!’
That from a man who had once taken to his bed because he had lost $150! Yes, it took a long time for John D. to conquer worry. He was ‘dying’ at fifty – three – but he lived to ninety – eight!
This month, lets endeavor to kick worry out of the window. It’s just a myth, it’s not real. If it were family, one of his children would be FEAR whose common acronym is False Evidence Appearing Real.
Since 28th December 2008.
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Credits: Dale Carnegie, How to stop worrying and start living (Page 329).