Dear Reader: Today’s story offers advice so powerful; it could uplift your life. It’s from Saul, a fictional Holocaust survivor whose life is based on actual Holocaust survivors and from a self-made billionaire who is anonymously donating his fortune to help people in need.
Saul is in his 70’s now, a business giant who made a fortune starting with little more than his wits and a few dollars. Today his company employs thousands of people across the world.
But what profoundly affected him is when he was just six-years-old, Saul survived the Holocaust because his parents gave him to a nurse who escaped with him only moments before his parents were seized and subsequently executed by the Nazis.
When the war ended in 1945, Saul’s only surviving relative, an uncle claimed him and took him to Los Angeles where he and his wife raised him in a loving home. But because the Holocaust lives within Saul he anonymously donates his money to help others in desperate need.
Speaking with Saul today is 21-year-old Kwan, a recent South Korean college graduate. Since he was a boy, Kwan has idolized Saul for all he accomplished against seemingly impossible odds.
“You have achieved so much with your life,” Kwan said with reverence in his voice for Saul. “May I ask a question so important; your answer could uplift anybody’s life.”
“Please ask your question,” Saul replied. “And I will answer it as frankly as I can.”
Kwan hesitated as he gathered his courage. Then he asked, “What is life’s greatest gift?”
“Life’s greatest gift,” Saul replied with a smile “strangely enough is one few people think about yet it could bring them untold happiness, and a greater understanding of why they’re here.
“Life’s greatest gift,” Saul said raising his voice, “Is to have a purpose and to feel needed.
“Most people think life’s greatest gift is to be rich or attractive,” Saul said. “But it’s not. Those are just the ego’s desires. Money for most rich people I’ve known didn’t even buy happiness.
“They found out that possessions don’t bring happiness, just envy. And they didn’t know who their real friends were because most people wanted to be with them for their money.
“Being attractive,” Saul continued, “Is a relative term. Many women wish they were thin. Others as they grow older also wish they didn’t show signs of age. But this is vanity. It’s not why people love them, for it is their inner qualities that attract sincere caring.
“With time we all age,” added Saul. “It is the natural course of life. And the wise among us accept this and enjoy each of life’s cycles rather than try to look like they did in the past.
“A woman can be as beautiful at 60 as she was at 30, but her look will be different. And in those 30 years that passed, in all she experienced, her mind grew far beyond what it was in her youth. In maturity she’s vibrant and has much more to offer.
“I’ve seen 90-year-old women who are beautiful,” Saul remarked. “Because they stayed actively involved in life and actively involved with people. They don’t live in the past, they live in the now.”
But because he is only 21, much of this message was lost on Kwan, and he looked quizzically at Saul. “Please tell me,” he said, “Why life’s greatest gift is to have a purpose and to feel needed.”
“At any age, to anyone,” Saul replied, “A sense of meaninglessness can set in. So can loneliness. But if a person will ask him or herself, ‘What is it that really brings me joy, and brings me a sense of accomplishment,’ and then will act on it that person will discover life’s greatest gift.”
“One man I knew punched a time card and worked on a production line,” Saul continued. “But on his own time, he read world history and the great philosophers and became an expert far beyond that of many college professors.
“For most of his adult life he joyfully studied and shared his knowledge with others. He had found his purpose and by telling history’s endless colorful stories he captivated and educated others. He was respected and needed all of his life.
“A woman I knew was a well known writer. But as the years passed her garden became her real joy and she even landscaped the canyon and public areas that abutted her home. With trees and flowers from all over the world it was so beautiful, it became a major tourist attraction.
“She was very much in demand to share her knowledge, and when she wanted to spare her time, to conduct tours. She too had found a lifelong purpose and was needed by others.
“So many people,” Saul said with a sigh, “Live their lives like zombies. They don’t awaken to all that life has to offer and they miss out.
“If you want life’s greatest gift, pursue your dreams. I love people and I love finance and through an outstanding group of people built a giant financial services business. The money came as a result; it was never my major goal. Providing outstanding service was.”
“I just got a job with a huge company,” Kwan replied. “It’s not very interesting but it’s a paycheck. What I’d really like is to have is my own business, be my own boss.”
“Decide what business you want to be in,” Saul responded. “And on your off hours read about it and speak to those who are successful in it. Build your knowledge base and build your savings so you can fund your own business when you’re ready.
“You may find your initial choice is not right for you. Try it and you’ll find out. What matters is that you find what you love and can put your heart into it. I tell unhappy people of any age to approach their careers this way. Otherwise they won’t reach their potential and not find joy.
“If you want life’s greatest gift,” Saul said, “You must have the courage to give it to yourself. Go as your heart guides you and be sure as well to help others. By doing so you will find a real sense of purpose and you will be needed.”