Russell Conwell wrote, “We must know what the world needs first and then invest ourselves to supply that need, and success is almost certain.”
What does the world need?
I had explored this question as an undergraduate. My “world” as a freshman was very limited to the Philadelphia area. I maneuvered my way through different areas of study and volunteered at different social service non-profits throughout the city. There was a need for something in every experience-a counselor available throughout the night to speak to sexual assault victims, or an SAT tutor for underserved Philadelphia high school students. I fulfilled these roles for some time, and eventually others will, as well. It’s not just a product that “the world” needs because the principle of need functions equally the same on concepts or ideas that can be provided to and inspire others.
So how do we, or how can we invest ourselves to supply that need?
This boils down to how we invest in ourselves. Many people choose to invest in themselves by investing in their education, for the possibilities of networking, furthering themselves by discovering their passions and interests, and to become more aware of their own aspirations and how they can pursue them. It develops a sense of purpose and obliges us to take a participatory and active role in the investment of the future, be it in our children and grandchildren, or even the future of a company or field of study.
Success, then, has to be redefined…individual by individual. The value of success changes after we invest ourselves in a certain way of life, and changes after we discover a world, our talents, and how we can use them effectively—because someone will need them. Conwell mentions John Jacob Astor’s method of becoming rich—by studying the details of a woman’s bonnet. The amount of detail that we notice about others, or about our environment in which we function, equates to how well we can adequately serve others in whatever role we fill.
Much like Conwell had originally intended for Temple to be, for individuals to work during the day, and to learn at night, I fit this profile. “Preservantia vincit,” became much more relevant and applicable than just a Latin school motto, and it became the truth. The opportunities of the city coupled with the educational environment has undoubtedly shaped who I have become, and the experiences I have gained will follow me regardless of where I go and where I end up; forever expanding my knowledge and understanding of the world and what it needs; as well as internally discovering how I fit in it.
I can tell you hundreds of things that the world needs, but maybe we’re not used to hearing about what the world doesn’t—the world doesn’t need another individual that lacks character and ambition on the road of the things he or she wishes to accomplish, and the world does not need another individual that lacks integrity in his or her methods to accomplish it.