Ten Minutes of Free Service

Ten Minutes of Free Service

by Napoleon Hill

“In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.” –Henry Ward Beecher

One rainy afternoon an elderly lady walked through the revolving door of a Pittsburgh department store. As she walked up the aisle several clerks turned their backs and pretended to be busy with their stock, thinking that she was a mere looker. But one young clerk spoke to her pleasantly and offered to be of assistance. The lady explained, “Oh, I’m just waiting for the rain to let up.”

“Very well,” said the young man, “May I bring a chair for you?” He secured a chair from behind the counter and offered it to the lady. When the rain had subsided, he took the lady by the arm and escorted her outside. As she left him, she asked for his card.

A few months later the owner of the store received a letter asking that this young man be sent to Scotland to take orders for furnishing a castle. The owner replied that this young man did not work in the home furnishing department, but that they would gladly send an expert. The old lady wrote back and insisted on having the young man who had been so courteous to her. Naturally he was allowed to go, and he received orders for several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of merchandise. The old lady was Andrew Carnegie’s mother, who was planning to furnish Skibo Castle in Scotland.

Because of this incident, the young man was made a partner in a great Pittsburgh store, with an assured future in a profitable business. The important part of the story is that he was not paid to go out of his way to be courteous to old ladies. No one told him to do it. He did it entirely on his own initiative. Yet the ten minutes he voluntarily devoted to this courtesy was responsible for his obtaining a partnership in a great business. It can be truthfully said that those ten minutes of free service paid him more than all the paid service he had rendered before in his entire life. And it made him economically independent for the rest of his life. You see once again how the law of increasing returns works for those who go the extra mile.



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