January 25, 2013

Some years ago, the New York Times sent a reporter to interview Mr. Roebuck (of Sears-Roebuck fame) on his ninetieth birthday. Since the focus of the interview was on Mr. Roebuck’s birthday, the reporter began by asking, “To what do you attribute your longevity and good health?”

The reply came, “Son, I sold out to Mr. Sears. Mr. Sears made ten million dollars and now he’s dead. Mr. Sears sold out to Julius Rosenwald, who made three hundred million dollars and now he’s dead. All I want you to tell your readers is that today Mr. Roebuck took his usual walk in Central Park.” It all boils down to what your goal is. But why not have it all?

In terms of having more of what counts in life, we might look to William H. Danforth, the founder of Ralston-Purina.

He was the advocate of having a square life with the four sides of the square being Physical, Mental, Religious and Social. William Danforth said that to maintain a balance it was important not to let an emphasis on one side pull the others out of proportion.

When he had it made–his money and his reputation–he toured the country advocating a balanced life. He wrote a book about it titled I Dare You. In spite of the demands of his business, he tried to live by what he advocated. With some of his share of the Ralston- Purina profits, he sponsored the building of churches on college campuses all over the nation. In later life, he devoted much of his time and money touring the country and advocating balance.

After all of the platitudes, it’s what you do and not what you say or advocate that makes the difference. So good luck in the doing and in keeping your balance.