A.G. Gaston’s 10 Rules

While on a trip across country, My wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham Alabama.

It was heart wrenching to see both the discrimination and hatred of individual‘s due to the color of their skin. It was a sad and disgraceful time in our country’s history. Sorry to say that this type of discrimination has always been, and will most likely always will continue, due to the fallen nature of men & women. It doesn’t seem to matter the race or what part of the world it exists it is all wrong. But in spite of the circumstances there are those who prosper.

One  such example was A.G. Gaston. Arthur George Gaston born in 1892 in Alabama was one of those individuals.

Mr. Gaston’s father died while he was still an infant. He grew up in a log cabin with his mother and grandparents. A.G. Gaston’s formal education ended with the 10th grade. After WWl he went to work in the mines and according to Wikipedia while working in the mines, he decided there was a need to feed the workers and came up with the idea of selling lunches to his fellow miners and then branched into loaning money to them.

Overtime Mr. Gaston had become a wealthy businessman in spite of the discrimination and poverty that surrounded him. His success included a business college, insurance company, a home for senior citizens, a bank, savings and loan association, motel, funeral home, bottling company, construction company, two radio stations, and a boys and girls club. He was a tremendous success by any standard of measure.

What were some of the principles that Mr. Gaston practiced and live by that allowed him to ascend to this level of success?

A.G. Gaston had 10 rules for success which he followed;

  1. Pay yourself first and save a part of all you earn.
  2. Save at an established institution such as a bank or savings and loan and stay away from loan sharks.
  3. Take no chances with your money.
  4. Never borrow anything that if forced to it, you can’t pay back.
  5. Don’t get big headed with regular people. It you take care of their needs they will make you big.
  6. Don’t have so much pride and wear the same suit for a year or two. It doesn’t matter the kind of suit if there is no money in it.
  7. Find a need and fill it. Successful businesses are found on the needs of other people. Keep good books and hire the best people you can find.
  8. Never run around with people that you can’t compete with. Stay in your own class.
  9. Once you get money or a reputation for having money people will give you money.
  10. Once you reach a certain bracket it is very difficult not to make more money                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Mr. Gaston famously said, “I never went into anything with the idea of making money. I thought of doing something, and it would come up and make money. I never thought of trying to get rich” Mr. Gaston’s net worth was estimated to be more than $130 million dollars at the time of his death..

I have learned over the years that when it comes to finances that good principles are necessary to follow. No matter your background or environment, if you follow sound financial principles not only will you find a way to earn money, but you will more than likely be able to keep it.

Live a BIG Life

If you want to do something BIG you need to believe in something BIG.

J. Paul Getty said he learned too late in his life that it took almost as much energy and commitment to do a small project as a big one. He said had he known that he would have spent less time on small projects and more time on larger projects. How many of us spend our time this same way, doing things that are small where our impact in this world could be much greater.

So to improve our opportunities to make our life count more by effecting greater change and make greater accomplishments let’s look at a few things we can do to get started.

If you want to do something BIG you need to position yourself to do so.

Position Yourself:

1. Physically – pace yourself

2. Emotionally – develop emotional maturity

3. Mentally – be a student

Christian Bernard the renowned Heart Surgeon- came from a small town, with dirt streets, but he saw a BIG World and the world was better because of it. You don’t start at the top. It takes time and commitment to develop a significant life that lives big. Pace yourself for the journey. I’ve heard the phrase life is a marathon not a sprint. It’s true. My mentor Orrin Woodward has a statement I found has helped me put the journey in perspective. To paraphrase it; most people expect too much in one year and too little in 5 years. Give yourself time to succeed.

The react test – how do you react when things happen to you? Are you learning to develop emotional maturity? Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “stuff happens”? Many times our response to these, our reaction determines whether the experience helps or hinders our life. A higher level of reaction is responding. Learn to develop the level of maturity that you no longer react (a panicked less controlled action) but you respond (a more controlled action). This comes from experiences and knowledge that prepare you for times that are out of your control or for the unexpected.

Have a BIG heart and be generous. A big person lives as a Servant Leader

Proverbs 11:24 says; The generous soul becomes rich. I have found that the more you give of yourself to others the more that is returned in many ways, ways you cannot count, ways in which may not be apparent in the moment but in ways far more valuable than money. In the book The Servant by James Hunter he shares this principle in a profound way.

So many people live in a small world. To live a bigger life be a bigger person. How do you do so? First be hungry to learn and learn from those with the knowledge and life experiences you seek to live. In the bestselling book  Launching a Leadership Revolution the authors Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward describe hunger to succeed as the number one attribute of those who do. Of the top 100 leaders in America most did not graduate in the top of their class. Many who succeeded in this world did not even have the opportunity to go to college but learned by studying as a protégé. Sir Issac Newton said I have seen further because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. Why not learn from the giants in your field. Whether it is medicine, sports, the arts, religion, or business you can find books, seminars, articles, to learn from or a mentor to guide you through the process.

Surround yourself with big people. Who do you associate with? Are they people that cause you to stretch and grow as a person. Have you ever noticed that most people who play a sport prefer to play with someone better because it causes them to raise their level of play to the better player? If that’s the case why do so many people in life then associate with people who are less successful? Is it possible that it then causes them to play the game of life to a lower level as well? It sure stands to reason it will. Change your associations if necessary. Find people who live bigger in life than you and associate with then. I heard years ago that if you can find someone who is more successful in the area of life you aspire to, buy them lunch and glean all you can, for it is better to learn the crumbs of knowledge of a successful person than a feast of knowledge from a fool. If you get the opportunity to meet with successful people – Do It!