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Carnegie's Legacy of Philanthropy for Personal Growth

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Tuesday, December 05, 2023

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The age-old question sparks both popular and unique answers from children. A police officer. A professional basketball player. Even royalty, perhaps. If we dig deeper into those answers, we can uncover a single truth they share.

We all dreamed of what we would grow up to be as kids. Of course, our answer to that classic question changes as we get older and wiser.

What does everyone genuinely want to be when they grow up? Happy.

If you aren’t on your best-life journey, stop what you are doing and read this. Rediscover your path to success using famed steel tycoon and humanitarian Andrew Carnegie’s guiding principles of philanthropy.

Will it make you rich? Yes, but not necessarily wealthy.


Philanthropy Fills Your Bucket

Educators know it as “filling your bucket.” It’s the idea that everyone carries around a bucket needing filling.

Want to know how to get it full? You actually give to get. The more you give away, the more you get back. Give out compliments and kind words. Give respect and a positive attitude. Get the same and so much more in return.

Personal development is about reaching fulfillment–Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization-type goals. Reach enlightenment and contentment by doing charitable deeds. Look outwards, and internal things have a way of automatically aligning.

The secret is that you can’t do good deeds for the sole purpose of being fulfilled. That’s a self-absorbed goal that won’t work out for you.

Carnegie outlined some key points to remember when finding the causes that mean the most to you.


Use Your Powers For Good

Carnegie believed that everyone should use their fortune to promote the general good of the world. Those with wealth have a responsibility to use it to lift others up.

He did not believe in hanging on to money to give to his heirs when he died. After all, if they hadn’t worked for it, they couldn’t really appreciate it. They’d end up entitled and lazy.

Neither did he believe in giving randomly. He didn’t want to help those who didn’t bother to help themselves. To him, that would reward bad habits and discourage good ones.


Get Creative

Give creatively. Let your values, experiences, and interests drive your decisions.

As a young man, Carnegie spent time in the library of a prosperous local businessman. His time there was special. The knowledge and self-improvement he gained were pivotal. He likely leaned on this experience when he funded the construction of some 2,811 public libraries nationwide.

Does that mean you should build libraries? Not unless it’s meaningful to you.


Look At It As An Investment

Andrew Carnegie wanted to ensure he did the most good with his money. He approached giving the way he did investing. What would generate the most generous return on investment?

If you’re looking to donate to an established organization, how good is that organization? Are they a sound business? How will you measure the success of your contribution?

Carnegie compounded the return on his library donations by encouraging participation and ownership. Carnegie only paid for the actual buildings. And only after seeing legit business plans for acquiring staff members and books.

He believed that if a person truly wanted to achieve something, they must put in the effort, or else it wouldn’t mean as much to them. As a result, those cities that chose to accept his generous offer of building a library had to put in the effort and funding to stock and maintain it.


It Should Make You Feel Good

Giving should make you feel good–like one of the best things you’ve ever done. You shouldn’t feel obligated or pressured to give or do it out of guilt.

Give with a grateful heart. Your hard work has made you successful, so you pay it forward and help others.


Your Personal Growth

Carnegie wrote about a few unique things he did that helped him grow personally and succeed. You don’t have to wait to discover these on your own. You get to learn directly from the man, the myth, the legend.

Here are Carnegie’s keys to success, personal growth, and philanthropic endeavors:

  • ​Have a creative vision. Recognize your unique strengths and life opportunities when creating your vision and reaching for it.​
  • ​Mindfully develop opportunities that come your way.​
  • ​Strategically plan moves that get you closer to your creative vision.
  • ​Learn from others. It sometimes takes humility to recognize that people of all types and ages have something to teach you.
  • ​Recognize when your mind limits you–it’s often the first to do so. Work to remove limitations.
  • ​Go the extra mile. Do your job to the best of your ability, plus a little bit more.
  • ​Pay attention to the circumstances and conditions of others around you.
  • ​Take initiative. Do what others haven’t, either because they didn’t want to or weren’t paying attention.
  • ​Assume responsibility for your actions and reactions. You can’t control outside forces, but you can control how flexible and resilient you are.
  • ​Develop and use your imagination. You must exercise creativity.

Better to Give

Andrew Carnegie wrote, “The man who dies rich dies disgraced.” His success in riches is unmatched by today’s renowned innovators and business leaders.

However, his willingness to give away his fortunes to improve society made him the legend he is today. He knew his money was no good to him if he didn’t use it to better the world he lived in. We can use his legacy of philanthropy to grow personally and achieve true happiness in life.





Children aspire to various futures, all in pursuit of happiness. Delve into Carnegie's wisdom to understand that true wealth transcends riches. Embrace strategic giving, aligning values with personal passions to foster both societal progress and profound personal growth. Explore how Andrew Carnegie's philanthropic principles can illuminate your path to fulfillment in this insightful infographic.

7 Carnegie Legacies Infographic
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