Prosperity Chapter XVIII
Time Is Money - And Much More
When Queen Elizabeth of England was dying she said, "My kingdom for a moment!"
One of the richest men in the world said he would give millions of dollars to be assured of a few more years of life.
The late J. Pierpont Morgan used to say that every hour of his time was
worth a thousand dollars. It was probably worth many thousands of
dollars, even if measured by money alone, for the accumulation of a vast
fortune was only an incident in Mr. Morgan's many-sided career.
But time is infinitely more valuable to us than is shown by its
money-making power. I have never known of any person to make his life
worthwhile in any direction until he came to the realization of the
immense value of time. Time is our most precious asset, our greatest riches; because in it live our success, our happiness, our destiny.
Yet multitudes are engaged in killing time. Their chief aim in life
is to fritter it away as rapidly as possible. They do not realize that
this is infinitely more wasteful than it would be for a rich man to
throw hundred dollar bills or valuable diamonds into the sea, or to do
as Cleopatra did, dissolve priceless pearls in a glass of wine and drink
The future of a young man can be fairly gauged by the value he puts upon his time, especially his spare time.
From the foundation of the American republic the greatest and most
successful Americans have been men who not only in their youth but all
through their lives made use of every spare moment in broadening their
minds, adding to their knowledge, and developing their ability along
their special line.
The Washingtons, the Franklins, the Lincolns, the Burritts, the
Morses, the Fields, the Edisons, the men in every line of endeavor all
over the civilized world who have done great things for mankind and made
themselves famous, achieved their great work not because they were
geniuses, but because they got from every minute of time its full value.
"I have in my time known many famous in war, in statesmanship, in
science, in the professions, and in business," said the late U. S.
Senator Hoar of Massachusetts. "If I were asked to declare the secret of
their success, I should attribute it, in general, not to any
superiority of natural genius, but to the use they made in youth, after
the ordinary day's work was over, of the hours which other men throw
away or devote to idleness, or rest, or society.
The great things in this world have been done by men of
ordinary natural capacity, who have done their best. They have done
their best by never wasting their time."
There are many so-called common or ordinary employees today, who,
perhaps, think they haven't nearly as good a chance to rise as their
more brilliant or showy companions, who will within a few years be
filling high positions. The history of the past shows that every year
brings out multitudes of giants from the ranks, often young fellows who
are more surprised at their rapid advance than the employers who are
"Our todays are the
blocks with which we build our future. If these are defective, the whole
structure of our life will correspond. That marvelous future which you
have dreamed of so long will be exactly what you put into your todays."
- O.S. Marden
The only reason why anyone remains a common, ordinary employee, doing
routine work and drawing a small salary, is not because he doesn't have
the ability to rise higher, but because he is not awake to the
possibilities in his spare time.
Charles M. Schwab had no more ability perhaps and no better chance to
rise than the hundreds of other young men who were working with him at
the Homestead plant of Andrew Carnegie when he started in at a dollar a
day. The reason why he has become a millionaire and a king in his line
is because he saw the necessity of a better education than he had at
that time, and devoted his evenings and spare time to making good his
deficiencies, and particularly to acquiring special knowledge in regard
to iron and steel.
He was always on the alert to improve his opportunities, always
preparing himself to be ready to fill positions next above him in case
of a vacancy. That is why his rise was so rapid, why he is today one of
the richest and most prominent business men in his line in the world,
while his early fellow workers who preferred "a good time" to
self-improvement in their spare time have never been heard from.
Speaking of those early days when he was beginning to attract attention
at the Carnegie works, Mr. Schwab said:
"At that time science began to play an important part in the manufacture
of steel. My salary at the age of twenty-one warranted me in marrying,
so I had a home of my own. I believe in early marriages, as a rule. In
my own house I rigged up a laboratory and studied chemistry in the
evenings, determined that there should be nothing in the manufacture of
steel that I would not know. Although I had received no technical
education, I made myself master of chemistry, and of the laboratory,
which proved of lasting value."
"The point I wish to make," continued he, "is that my experimental
work was not in the line of my duty, but it gave me greater knowledge.
Achievement is possible to a man who does something else besides his
mere duty that attracts the attention of his superiors to him, as one
who is equipping himself for advancement. An employer picks out his
assistants from the best informed, most competent and conscientious."
"One is so tired after a day's work he does not feel like studying,"
is an excuse often urged by young people when reminded that they are not
doing anything to advance themselves. It is only the excuse of those
who are too lazy to work for what they want, or who lack the ambition to
It is well known that a change of occupation in the evening, — the
bringing into play of a different set of muscles, brain tissues, ideas,
and thoughts, generally rests rather than tires one. Of course everyone
should take a proper amount of time for needed recreation, exercise and
rest, but very often those who claim they are too tired to study
evenings waste more energy in foolish dissipation or dawdling aimlessly
around doing nothing than they would spend in reading or study.
Only a short time ago I read of a young school teacher who learned
six or seven languages in her spare time, and who managed, by earning
some extra money evenings in teaching private pupils, to save enough
money to go to Europe, to perfect herself in these languages. The
enjoyment and breadth of culture she got out of her travels in the
different European countries would have been a great reward for the
sacrifices she made; but she got much more than that, for she advanced
rapidly in her profession, and is now an instructor in French, German,
and Italian in a high school for girls.
"The whole period of youth," says Ruskin, "is one essentially of
formation, edification, instruction. There is not an hour of it but is
trembling with destinies — not a moment of which, once passed, the
appointed work can ever be done again, or the neglected blow struck on
the cold iron." Millions of down-and-outs are today bemoaning the loss
of the golden opportunities they allowed to slip by in youth, the
evenings and holidays they idled away when they might have been laying
the foundations for a happy, successful future. But they couldn't eat
their cake and have it too, and now they feel it is too late even to try
to make good.' They feel that they have nothing to look forward to but
an old age of poverty and bitter regrets.
There is no magic which can give a youth a golden future when he is
slipping careless, slipshod work and wasted hours into the fabric of
today. Ambition, courage, industry, vim, energy, initiative,
thoroughness poured into your day's work, and perseverance in
self-improvement in your spare time, these are the ingredients warranted
to make a golden future, to bring you wealth, knowledge, wisdom, power,
fame — whatever you set your heart on.
"Believe me," said England's great statesman, William E. Gladstone,
"when I tell you that thrift of time will repay you in after life with a
usury of profit beyond your most sanguine dreams, and that waste of it
will make you dwindle alike in intellectual and moral stature beyond
your darkest reckoning."
The way in which they spent their spare time has made all the
difference between mediocrity and grand achievement to tens of thousands
of men and women, who were intelligent enough in youth to know the
value of the priceless odds and ends of time which others were
If someone offered to purchase a large percentage of your life power
you would not think of selling it, even for a fabulous sum. It is what
gives you your chance to make good, to make your life a masterpiece, and
naturally you would not part with it. You would say that you could not
afford to sell your birthright of power in which is wrapped up your
whole destiny, — your enthusiasm, your zest, your career, your ambition.
But do you realize that you are practically doing the same thing when
you allow your most precious success asset, your time, to run away from
you in all sorts of leaks; in sheer idleness, in dissipation, in
superficial, silly pleasures, or worse, in pleasures which kill your
self-respect and make you hate yourself the next day?
If you would succeed in any adequate way, in a way at all
commensurate with your possibilities, you must not only shut off all
time leaks, but you must also repair every leak in your mental and
physical system, and stop every output of energy that does not tell in
rendering you more fit to make your life the great success it is
possible for you to make it.
How often we are reminded of the value of time by the expression,
"Time is money." But time is more than money; it is life itself; for
every separate moment as it flies takes with it a part of our life span.
Time is opportunity. Time represents our success capital, our
achievement possibilities. Everything we hope for, everything we dream
of accomplishing is dependent on it.
"Short as life is," said Victor Hugo, "we make it still shorter by
the careless waste of time." I would advise every youth starting out in
life to put that sentence up on the wall in his sleeping room, and over
his desk or work bench, where it would constantly remind him of the
immense possibilities stored in the minutes and hours of every single
day. If at the outset of your career you resolve to make good every day,
and live up to your resolution, nothing can keep you from being a
successful man or woman, a superb character.
"The world grants all opportunities to him who can use them. Power
and fortune are hidden away in the hours and moments as they pass,
awaiting the eye that can see, the ear that can hear, the hand that can
- Orison Swett Marden
Prosperity Chapter XVIII, continued...
You are the architect of your fate, the master of your destiny, and
right now you are shaping your future. Every day is a step nearer to, or
farther from, the goal of your ambition. The precious hours of youth
are invaluable. The realization of all your dreams lives in them.
Letters come to me from time to time from young people deploring the
fact that it is impossible for them to attend school or college. They
say they have to work for a living, and therefore have no opportunity to
acquire an education. They never stop to think that many of the most
prominent men and women of the world have been self-educated. I do not
mean that they have worked their way through school or college, but that
they have actually gained an education in its widest and best sense, by
their own efforts, with little or no actual schooling.
You who complain that you have no opportunity to get an education,
and therefore no opportunity to do anything worthwhile, read the lives
of men and women who have lifted themselves into places of power by
self-education, biographies like that of Franklin, of Lincoln, of
Greeley, of Garfield, of men of all nations who came from the direst
poverty, and by sheer force of will and the wise use of every spare
moment lifted themselves to the highest stations of life, to positions
of honor, of great power and wealth.
As Hamilton W. Mabie said: "One of the prime qualities of a man of
force and ability is his clear understanding of what can be done with
the time and tools at his command. Such a man wastes no time in idle
dreaming of the things he would do if he could go to college, or travel,
or have command of long periods of uninterrupted time. He is not guilty
of a feeble evasion of 'no possibility' for his career by getting
behind adverse conditions. If the conditions are adverse, he gets in
front of them, and so gets away from them.
"The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he
had means, time, influence, and educational opportunities; the question
is what he will do with the things he has. The moment a young man ceases
to dream or to bemoan his lack of opportunities and resolutely looks
his conditions in the face, and resolves to change them, he lays the
corner stone of a solid and honorable success."
No matter how limited your time, or how exacting your daily work,
you can so train your mind, so cultivate yourself by reading and study
in your spare moments, that you can, if you will, become an educated man
or woman, with a much broader outlook on life and an infinitely greater
earning capacity than the uneducated man or woman.
Andrew Carnegie, the young Scotch lad, for example, had only an
elementary school education at the start, but by reading and studying in
his leisure moments he acquired the culture that fruited in several
books and many magazine articles on topics of worldwide interest, to say
nothing of his business achievements and the immense fortune he
George Stephenson, inventor of the locomotive engine, seized every leisure moment as though it were gold. He educated himself and did much of his best work during his spare time. He learned to read and write at a night school, and studied arithmetic during the night shifts when he was assistant fireman in a colliery.
The lives and work of multitudes of the world's benefactors prove that no matter what investment a man may make in life, there is none so satisfactory as self-investment, — coining bits of leisure into knowledge and power.
The bigger the man the greater value he puts upon time. He regards it as a great asset, as the most precious capital, which can enrich life. Whether his ambition be to acquire a fortune or to achieve success in some other direction, he knows that everything depends on what he does with his spare time.
Weak natures, on the other hand, never regard time as a precious asset, they never want to pay the price which strong natures are willing to pay, to make their dreams come true. They can not resist the lure of pleasure for the sake of their ambition. They practice no more thrift in the use of their time than they do in the use of their money. They kill a lot of time without realizing that in doing this they are killing their prospects, killing their future, killing themselves.
"I will make this day worth while!" would be a splendid daily motto for all of us to adopt. When you awake in the morning; when you start to work; and many times during the day, say to yourself: "I will make this day worth while. It shall not pass into the story of my life as time half wasted, or not utilized to the best advantage. No matter whether I feel like it or not, I am going to make this day count. I am going to make it stand out in my life as a red-letter day, one in which my work was effective, efficient."
"Few of us realize the
connection between the day, the hour, in which we are living, and our
success, our happiness, our destiny."
If you do this every day you will be surprised at the wonderful
effect it will have upon your whole life. It will lift it to the highest
point of your possible efficiency and effectiveness. It will mean
everything to you both in character and financial returns.
Someone says: "All that time is lost which might be better employed."
If all of us realized the truth of that, there would be more success
and fewer failures in life. Each of us has the same number of hours in
his day, the same number of days in his year, and the chief difference
between the success and the failure lies in the use to which the hours'
and the days are put. Given the very same environment, the same chances
to succeed, and one youth will rise to fame and fortune by the right
use of the time that another recklessly wastes.
The harvest of our tomorrows will be like the seed we sow today. If
we do not put that quality into the present moment that we expect in our
success, in our character, in our life as a whole, it will not be
If there is not energy, vim, courage, initiative, industry, a high
quality of work in today the results of these cannot appear in your
future. It is the daily ambition which starts out every morning with the
firm resolution not to let the hours slip through one's fingers until
one has wrung from them their utmost possibility that makes the
successful day; and it is the accumulation of daily successes that makes
the big life success, that enables the man to realize the ambitious
dream of the boy.
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