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Here is an excerpt from Lee’s latest book, Leadership Matters. It contains 31 daily insights to inspire extraordinary results.

day 18: Investment

Two young men were working their way through Stanford University in the late 1890s when, during the semester, their funds got desperately low. So, they came up with the idea of engaging Ignacy Paderewski, the great pianist, for a recital. After paying the concert expenses, the two students could use the profits to pay their board and tuition.

The great pianist’s manager asked for a guarantee of $2,000. The students, undaunted, proceeded to stage the concert. But alas, the concert raised only $1,600.

After the performance, the students sought the great artist, gave him the entire $1,600, a promissory note for $400, and explained they would earn the remainder of his fee and send the money to him.

“No,” replied Paderewski, “that won’t do.” Then tearing the note to shreds, he returned the money and said to them, “Now, take out of this $1,600 all of your expenses and keep for each of you 10 percent of the balance for your work.”

The years rolled by – years of fortune and destiny. Paderewski had become Premier of Poland. The devastating war came, and Paderewski’s only focus was to feed the starving thousands in his beloved Poland. Yet just as the need was most severe, thousands of tons of food began to come into Poland for distribution by the Polish Premier.

After all the starving people were fed and hard times had past, Paderewski journeyed to Paris to thank Herbert Hoover for the relief he had sent. “That’s all right, Mr. Paderewski,” was soon-to-be U.S. President Hoover’s reply. “You don’t remember it, but you helped me once when I was a student at college and I was in a hole. You invested in me … now it’s my turn.”

Investing in other people, and ourselves, provides a far greater return than the best mutual fund. Inspiring leadership is about pouring ourselves into others and helping them draw out their natural gifts … so they, in turn, can invest in others.

Action Questions:

1. With whom can I invest more time and energy in order to help them reach their full potential?

2. In what area do I need to invest in to help me reach my own potential?

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Copyright © 2012 by Lee J. Colan and The L Group, Inc.