Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rich At Last


Bernie was my father's idea of a rich man. When I was a kid in Minnesota, watermelon was a delicacy. Bernie, was a prosperous fruit-and-vegetable wholesaler, and one of my father's good friends. Every summer, when the first watermelons rolled in, Bernie would call. Dad and I would go to his warehouse and take up our positions.

We'd sit on the edge of the dock, feet dangling, and lean over, minimizing the volume of juice we were about to spill on ourselves. Bernie would take his machete, crack our first watermelon, hand us both a big piece and sit down next to us. We'd bury our faces in watermelon. We'd eat only the heart: the reddest, juiciest, firmest, most seed-free, most perfect part, and throw away the rest.

Bernie was rich. I always thought it was because he was such a successful businessman. Years later, I realized that what my father admired about Bernie's wealth was less its substance than its application. Bernie knew how to stop working, get together with friends and "eat only the heart of the watermelon."

After becoming a very successful businessman, what I learned from Bernie from my exposure to him as a young boy is that "being rich is a state of mind" and also includes making time often for those things in life that are the very sweetest to you. Some of us, no matter how much money we have, will never be free enough to "eat only the heart of the watermelon." Others are rich without ever being more than a paycheck ahead.

For many years, I forgot that lesson I'd learned as a kid on the loading dock. I was too busy making money and adding accomplishments to my resume.

Well, I've re-learned it.

Now I make sure I "eat the heart of the watermelon" often, in fact every day. I do those things that are sweetest for me, I do them first, and I do them often. Frequently, for me, some of these things are taking the time to enjoy the accomplishments of others and to take pleasure in the day. And I remember that it's ok to throw the rest away.

Finally, I am "rich.”

~ The Author is Harvey Mackay who is Chairman and CEO of Mackay Envelope Corporation, an $85 million company he founded at age 26. He is the author of the New York Times #1 bestsellers "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive" and "Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.” He is also a nationally syndicated columnist, popular business speaker, and a director of Robert Redford's Sundance Institute ~

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