One of Ralph Waldo Emerson works was a poem on success, and
one of his measures of success in that poem was to, ‘Leave
the world a bit better.’
That line has always stuck in my head. Emerson said you have
succeeded if you leave the world a bit better. And I have
made that line part of my life philosophy. When the tide
goes out there is a watermark left behind of where the water
When the waters of life recede from the shore of my being
and my heart pumps for the last time, my desire is that
there will be a mark where I stood. My aim is that the mark
will say, ‘For some decades a man occupied this space who
saw others more important than himself and efforted to leave
the world a better place for them and those yet to come.’
Our society tells us that success is measured by bank
accounts, power, beauty and wealth. These are often the
result of hard work, luck or birth. They are not evil and I
strive for some of them daily. However, they are not the
mark I will measure the success of my life with.
So how do you do it? How do you ‘leave the world a bit
* You give a percent of your income away to a charity or
church. This makes your community better.
* You save a percentage of your income to pass down to your
family when you leave.
* You volunteer your time for those who are less fortunate.
Are you volunteering anywhere?
* You mentor someone who needs a positive direction in life.
* You follow and get involved in politics. Our laws and
leaders will determine the future. You can have a hand in
Or you can amass as much wealth as you can, spend it as fast
as you can on the fading desires of your heart and seek to
please yourself first. Our culture might tell you that this
is success. Emerson tells us that it is not. I encourage you
to realize that the waters of your life will eventually
withdraw from the shore. When it does, will there be a
by Ron White