Don’t Be Afraid to Give Up the Good to Go for the Great

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“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) was an entrepreneur, industrialist and philanthropist. He is best known for founding the Standard Oil Company, which, at its peak, controlled around 90% of the oil refineries in the United States; making him one of the richest men who ever lived, amassing a fortune estimated equivalent to $340bn in the modern time.

He was also known as a major philanthropist, donating more than $500 million to various causes, which included founding the University of Chicago, the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University), and the General Education Board, which focused on improving education in the Southern United States. He contributed towards the successful mission to eradicate hookworm disease in the southern United States through the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise as Rockefeller had first engaged in a business enterprise at the age of seven! In his book “Random Reminiscences of Men and Events,” he recounted that he owned some turkeys and sold them all in businesslike fashion, with the assistance of his mother.

At the age of just 14, he had already put $50 (equivalent to roughly $1,500 today) from his turkey sales and doing chores for his family and neighbors to work by investing it. He then realized that his pay for selling turkey and carrying out chores was less than one third the annual interest on his $50! With that, he resolved to make as much money for him as he possibly could.

Rockefeller attributed his financial skills to his training at home. “I cannot remember when hard work was new or strange to me. We were to taught to work, to save, and to give.” His word of advice: “If your only goal is to become rich, you will never achieve it.”

Rockefeller’s quote “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great” is a reflection of his approach to business and life. He was known for his relentless pursuit of success and his willingness to take risks in order to achieve it. He believed that to truly achieve greatness, one must be willing to let go of what is good and strive for something even better.

This mindset led him to make bold business decisions and investments, such as purchasing rival oil refineries and consolidating them into the Standard Oil Company. It also led him to make significant philanthropic contributions, including the founding of the University of Chicago and the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, which have had a lasting impact on education and scientific research.

Rockefeller’s quote is a reminder that true success and fulfillment often require taking risks and making sacrifices. It encourages us to think big, to strive for greatness, and not to be afraid to let go of what is good in order to reach for something even better.

Here are five further quotations from John D. Rockefeller”

“I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity.”

“The only time you don’t fail is the last time you try anything – and it works.”

“I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.”

“It is wrong to assume that men of immense wealth are always happy.”

“I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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