Go-Getters Who Give This Zig Ziglar column was originally published in 2000
Many years ago, in the moors of Scotland, a farmer named Fleming was working hard to support his family. One day, while he was out in his fields working, he heard a distinct cry for help coming from a nearby bog. Mr. Fleming dropped his tools and ran to the bog, where he saw a young lad mired to his waist in black muck. The youngster was screaming and struggling to free himself. The farmer jumped into the bog, saving the young lad from a horrible death.
Thinking no more about it, Mr. Fleming went on about his work. The next day, a beautiful carriage pulled up to the front of their modest cottage. Out stepped an elegantly dressed nobleman, who introduced himself as the father of the boy Mr. Fleming had saved. The man said, "I want to repay you for saving my son's life."
However, the farmer said he couldn't accept payment for what he did, which he said was only the right thing to do. At that moment, the farmer's young son walked up, and the nobleman asked the farmer if that was his son. Mr. Fleming replied, "Yes." And the nobleman said, "I'll make you a deal. Let me take your son and give him a good education. If he's like his father, he will grow up to be a man you can be proud of." The farmer agreed, and the son left his home and went with the nobleman to receive an education.
Later, the son, whose name was Alexander, finished his education and graduated from St. Mary's Hospital School in London. He went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered penicillin. Many years later, the son of the nobleman who put Alexander Fleming through school fell gravely ill with pneumonia. He was near death's door, but was saved by a new drug called "penicillin."
You probably have guessed that the nobleman was Lord Randolph Churchill. His son was Sir Winston Churchill. The old saying that "bread cast upon the waters often returns buttered" was certainly true in this case.
I'm not even mildly hinting that when you do something for someone else, the story will have an ending as dramatic as this one. However, what Mr. Fleming did was save a life, and any life has enormous value. He did it without thinking, without any motive other than to save the young boy's life. He graciously accepted the education for his son, because that was for his son's benefit.
The rest of the story is that Lord Randolph Churchill felt a lot better about the transaction because he had a chance to express his deep gratitude in a very real way. This is a classic example of my oft-quoted statement that you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. I'm certain Mr. Fleming did not have that in mind when he rushed to the aid of young Winston Churchill, but nevertheless, the application is perfect.
The same applies when you give a person in need a word of encouragement. An act of kindness, a helping hand to a youth in trouble, an encouraging word to someone who has lost his or her job can mean a world of difference to that person. There is nothing quite like encouraging people in their struggles through life.
Interestingly enough, research shows that those who get involved in local projects like cleaning up a neighborhood, serving in a soup kitchen, participating with Habitat for Humanity in building homes for the homeless, and so on, are so energized in the process that they end up being more successful in their chosen professions. Now, as newscaster Paul Harvey would say, that's "the rest of the story."
Brant Positve Action Group
If they can not do it –we can as citizens
– all ideas and community action plans welcome