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How Far You Go In Life


Pondering George Washington Carver


   Just when we think we’ve got it rough, just ponder the predicament of this situation: you are born into slavery in 1864; your father dies; slave raiders steal your mother; 10 of your siblings die; your slave owner takes you back and raises you; the local school won’t admit you because of your race…

   Having grown up in East Alabama and now working with some great leaders in Tuskegee and Macon County, I find myself getting more and more immersed into some incredible history. My most recent thrill and fascination was getting to know the famous scientist, teacher, philosopher and agricultural genius George Washington Carver a little better.

   Volumes have been written about Carver and there is a museum and volumes of works about his life here in Tuskegee that you should see. There is a national monument to him in Missouri. But today I want to focus on a few of the thoughts of wisdom and practical rules for living that Carver left us. His life story and journey from a slave in Missouri to one of our nation’s great agriculture scientists and inventors shattered myths and racial ceilings for black America. He still inspires people of all races and backgrounds even today.

   Carver was a man of great Christian faith and taught bible lessons each week in the homes of local citizens in Tuskegee and said that his faith in Christ drove his science and philosophy of life.

   Carver left us with this incredible advice about how far you go in life:

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong; because someday in life you will have been all of these.”

   Carver was often criticized by peers and outsiders alike for his methods and his success with simple things like peanuts and sweet potatoes. His response:  "When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world."

    Carver left 8 simple rules of life for his students to follow and they are perfect for us to remember today:

  • Be clean both inside and out.
  • Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
  • Lose, if need be, without squealing.
  • Win without bragging.
  • Always be considerate of women, children, and older people.
  • Be too brave to lie.
  • Be too generous to cheat.
  • Take your share of the world and let others take theirs.

   Carver has inspired generations and shown us all how far we can go in life; regardless of the cards we are dealt. Carver not only left us invention and science but showed us the value of frugality and giving back. He left $60,000 in his day to his foundation upon his death.

   I am glad I got to ponder George Washington Carver this week. I am going to strive to learn more about him and all the great legends that lived and worked right here in my own back yard. I hope you get to know him too!



Joe Turnham has gained a national reputation both as a political figure and tier-one consultant to a myriad of clients. Joe’s services are in demand nationally as a consultant, speaker, political advisor and commentator. Click here to learn more about Joe.

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