No. 463



Charlie Ward died when he was 73 years of age, but, oh, what a life he lived. When I read this true story of Charlie Ward in the excellent book "The 25 Most Common Problems in Business" by Jim Zabloski, I knew it was a story I had to share with you.

The reason I wanted to share this story is because it represents thousands, perhaps millions, of people across America who started out on the wrong side of the tracks but became an exemplary model of what a human life is meant to be. If you suffer from low self-esteem because you were not born into the privileged class, do not possess looks or a body that cause others to stare, do not have an Ivy League education or all the other advantages of those starting out with a "can't miss" label, this story is for you.

Let me say here in the beginning, the reason Charlie Ward became a tremendous success is because he discovered an age-old principle that will work for anyone who has the good sense to use it. I will be happy to tell you what it is, but first this story about the life of Charlie Ward.

Charlie came into the world on the worst side of town. As a young boy, he sold newspapers to help pay his family debts. Then he shined shoes and as a teen found himself serving others as a cabin boy on a freighter. He tired of life in Seattle, Washington, and tired of serving others. He did what every young man daydreams ofÑhe hit the rails and traveled with bums on passing trains.

Charlie saw the States and made his living by stealing and petty thievery. His railroad journeys satisfied him for several years, until Mexico enticed him. He drank. He fought. He won, but more often he lost. He discovered gambling, which allowed him to win bigger and lose bigger.

Finally, U.S. authorities caught Charlie and tried him for trafficking in narcotics. Bitter and angry, Charlie claimed the authorities framed him, even as he passed through the gates of Leavenworth prison. Many inmates read my column, so here I hope you will really listen up. At age 34, Charlie Ward hung on the end of his emotional rope. He had lived for himself for 16 years. He had given to no one and taken from all.

But his life turned around when he read the only material then available to prisoners: the Bible. By reading and rereading it, Charlie's life transformed into something he never thought possible. He burned into his mind to forgive those who had wronged him. He decided to become Leavenworth's model prisoner. He wanted to improve himself, and his opportunity came. He learned from a prison guard whom he had befriended, that there would be an opening for a trustee in the prison electric plant in three months. Charlie knew the railroads, not electricity. He read every book on electricity in the prison library. He prayed and asked God to give him that job, and in return he would learn to give. He studied, and at the end of three months he not only passed the test, but due to his vibrant personality, he won the hearts of the prison officials.

In a short time, Charlie became superintendent of the prison power plant with 150 men working for him. Charlie became everyone's friend, including the newest white-collar prisoner named Herbert Bigelow who entered because of tax evasion. Because Charlie gave of himself to help Herbert Bigelow adjust to his situation, his new friend responded in kind by telling Charlie that when he got out of prison to look him up in St. Paul. Bigelow's sentence ended, with Charlie's several months behind. When Charlie knocked on Bigelow's door, he received a handshake and a job offer as a laborer.

A bit disappointed, Charlie overcame his situation by giving again. His reward came in leaps Ü within the year Bigelow promoted him to superintendent. From there Charlie rose to the rank of general manager and then vice president. His triumph came when Bigelow made Charlie Ward, ex-bum and ex-con, president of Brown and Bigelow Industries. Charlie remained as president, taking the $3 million company to a $50 million company, till his death at age 73.

In the beginning, I promised to tell you the principle that Charlie Ward discovered that completely turned life around. I might add, we don't have to be in prison to use this principle; it's there free for the taking for one and all. The Bible states it this way, "Give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over." If you are having trouble on your job or in your life, change your attitude. Give first and the rewards will follow.(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)