Nov 26, 2018

Anatomy Of a Quote

Anatomy Of A Quote

In this series we will dissect quotes from well-regarded leaders in various arenas and apply their words to our everyday lives.


The name “Andrew Carnegie” is synonymous with a number of successful endeavors that span centuries in impact. For those not fluent in his long history in business, his name is most often associated with New York City’s Carnegie Hall (that and of course the Carnegie Deli). His incredible wealth is merely a footnote in his story, as Carnegie is also known as one of the greatest philanthropists who ever lived—donating over $350 million of wealth to charity. He penned an article in 1889 titled The Gospel Of Wealth, challenging the wealthy to venture into stronger philanthropy.
A pioneer of the steel industry, Carnegie was born in Scotland and came to the United States in his early teens. His work history began as a telegrapher, though his twenties were spent in a variety of worlds—from investing in the railroad industry to working with bonds. By the turn of the 20th century, Carnegie kicked things up a notch, as his company Carnegie Steel was sold to J.P. Morgan for a cool $480 million in 1901, making Carnegie even wealthier than John D. Rockefeller at the time.


With accomplishments that grand, Carnegie had no time to be stagnant, and this quote is proof of that:


People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.


Think about this: when Carnegie surpassed Rockefeller as the wealthiest man, he was 66 years old. For many, that’s retirement age, though for Carnegie it was the start of his primary career in philanthropy. To start a new chapter at that age required a level of motivation most can’t even fathom at times, but Carnegie did it and it became his calling—as he worked to build libraries, further education, and invest in other pursuits for the greater good.


“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity…”


Many will scan the Self-Help sections of bookstores and Amazon pages in search of the next work that will help push them to the next level. They’ll seek outside inspiration—from colleagues to other success stories—in the hopes of finding their own footing. But if you can’t find that motivation from within (above all), then your own success story will be short lived.


“…no matter how impressive their other talents.”


You can be the greatest baseball player in the world, but if you can’t bring yourself to get on the field, then how will you ever get to play the game? Many have the tools to accomplish their dreams, though they lack the will to go out and actually do it. That is the meaning behind Carnegie’s message: you can have all of the talent imaginable, but it’s the motivation to show those talents that determines your level of success.


“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”


Andrew Carnegie spent the last 18 years of his life helping others with the wealth he obtained as one of the most successful businessmen in American history. He worked for it, earned it, and then gave it all away. His decision to do so coincides with his reputation as a man of honor, though this quote speaks even louder than his philanthropic ventures. As entrepreneurs, you may or may not one day choose to donate your wealth to charity. However, in order to come to that crossroads you must acquire enough success to bring you to that place of freedom. It all boils down to your motivation in getting there. The results are up to you.


Author Profile

R M Zalatimo
R M Zalatimo
Inspire. Empower. Transform. Those are the words that NYC Wealth Innovator, Russ Zalatimo, lives by. From tips on leadership, self-help, and growing entrepreneurship Zalatimo provides the trade secrets to leading a well-rounded life.