Andrew Carnegie’s “note to self”

At age 33, Andrew Carnegie took an inventory of his own heart and wrote this note to himself:

Man must have an idol — The amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry. No idol more debasing than the worship of money. Whatever I engage in I must push inordinately therefore should I be careful to choose the life which will be the most elevating in character. To continue much longer overwhelmed by business cares and with most of my thoughts wholly upon the way to make more money in the shortest time, must degrade me beyond hope of permanent recovery. I will resign business at Thirty five, but during the ensuing two years, I wish to spend the afternoons in securing instruction , and in reading systematically.

The self-awareness and honesty of this note is startling. Almost everyone could benefit from introspection about their careers and the interplay on their soul. I wish I could have talked to 40 year old Carnegie to understand why he didn’t take his own advice.

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