One of the most famous true stories about regret from a man who did not take action is that of Alfred Nobel, the dynamite inventor and the Nobel Prize founder.
In 1888, Alfred Nobel’s brother Ludvig died in France.
And a French newspaper mistakenly published an obituary for Alfred instead.
The obituary headline read:
“The merchant of death is dead.”
The obituary described Nobel as a man who had made a fortune from the invention of dynamite… a weapon that killed people faster than the world had ever seen.
After reading this, Nobel was devastated by the idea that his legacy would be of destruction and death.
So he did something about it. Rather than profiteering from an invention that fueled the war machine, he dedicated the rest of his life in the pursuit of peace.
He established a philosophy and set of values that ushered his actions towards good, not evil (although I’d argue the invention was capitalised by the war machine, not invented for that purpose).
As Simon Sinek puts it, he used his wealth to establish the Nobel Prize, which at its inception*, was for a truly ‘just cause’.
Nobel’s decision to establish the Nobel Prize allowed him to “right the wrong” and atone for the harm he believed his invention had caused.
And it took an obituary mistakenly announcing his death for him to realise the impact he had made and the opportunity he had missed.
This makes me think…
Do you have to be pronounced dead to do what you could have done all along?
Are you coasting in your business, detached from a purpose bigger than keeping up with popular hustle culture? Are you just grinding, or are you grinding forsomething?
If you feel like you’re the former, you’re in good company… I’ll sit beside you because I’m spending a lot of time thinking about this topic, and I don’t think I’ve got it right yet…
In every line of work, you CAN have business objectives that go past the bottom line (not taking away from the importance of that… cash is oxygen for a business).
And someone I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from in the past few months for this very reason is a mentee of mine, Mitch, who runs Exercise Healthcare Australia, or EHA for short.
He created a supercut video to share the stories of the lives that are better for it because they found EHA, and it’s raw, moving and inspiring.
You can watch it here.
After watching it, you too, like Nobel, could ask yourself the question:
“How do I want to be remembered?”
– Karl Goodman