One of the most important things we can teach our students, children, and grandchildren is that belief can help or hinder what we wish to accomplish. In fact, I think it was Henry Ford that said something to the effect of “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” That’s something to ponder. I became aware of this story a number of years ago. What is here comes from my memory of it. –JDS
The young businessman was distraught. Shortly after the Great Depression started in 1929, his business and his dreams began failing rapidly. Customers were not paying and suppliers were demanding their money. He didn’t have many options … except for bankruptcy.
In his despondency, he sat down on a park bench, his troubles paramount on his mind. A well-dressed elderly gentleman approached him and sat down.
“Young man, you seem to be carrying the world on your shoulders. Would you care to tell me about it?”
Appreciative of someone to talk with about it, the young man told his story.
“I believe I can help,” the old man shared after listening patiently. “While in my youth, I was in similar circumstances several times. I know what you are going through.” He reached into his jacket pocket and produced a checkbook.
“I’m writing you a check for $500,000; that should get you through this tough spot. Then, exactly one year from today at this very same time, meet me right here on this park bench and tell me what you did and how it went for you.”
The young man was surprised, of course, then dumbfounded when he read the signature on the check as it was handed to him: John D. Rockefeller. He agreed to Mr. Rockefeller’s terms, thanked him profusely, then ran back to his office to put the precious check in his safe.
Bolstered with the confidence of half a million dollars in his office safe, the young businessman devised a plan to recover his business and put it back on his feet. He negotiated better contracts, collected payments owed and paid off his creditors. In a bit less than a year, he and his business had completely recovered, and, all the while, Mr. Rockefeller’s check remained in his safe. He never had to cash it. Simply knowing he had it gave him the confidence he needed to bring his business back to life.
The young man could hardly wait to share his good news with Mr. Rockefeller at the appointed day and time a year later. And, true to his word, Mr. Rockefeller was waiting for him on the park bench.
The young businessman shared how the year had gone, and how things had turned around completely in his business. Then, as a final touch, he handed the check back to Mr. Rockefeller, sharing how just having it in his office safe made all the difference he needed.
Just as he handed the check back, a woman in a nursing uniform approached them. With a frown on her face, she spoke to the old man.
“Oh, THERE you are,” she scolded. Now, you know you are not supposed to go traipsing off by yourself. You might get hurt.” As she reached for his hand, she turned and addressed the young businessman.
“And, sir, I’m so sorry if he’s caused you any trouble. You see, he just loves to come to this park and pretend he’s JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER!
A semi-retired child and adolescent psychologist and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the author of The Changing Behavior Book: A Fresh Approach to the Difficult Child. His website is http://www.DocSpeak.com; his blog is http://www.itsaboutthem.