Thursday, July 30, 2009

Be A Mensch

Tip #170 – Be A Mensch. For those of my readers who are not Jewish, a Mensch means “person of integrity” in Yiddish. It is a common saying among Jews to call someone a mensch if that person is a good, kind person. If you know your neighbor has nothing to do on his birthday and you invite him over for lunch, you are a mensch. If you visit your grandmother once a week because you know she is lonely, then you are a mensch. While being a mensch is all well and good, what does that have to do with financial success? Well I believe what comes around goes around. That’s not why I think people should act as a Mensch, but it is a nice bonus.

For example, when you go out to dinner with a group of friends, and one member of the party eats for significantly less than the rest of the group and everyone wants to split the bill evenly, a mensch might stand up for this person suggesting that he pay less since he ate for less. And then maybe next time when you are the person who eats for less than everyone else, someone will remember what you did and will stand up for you so you only have to pay your fair share as well, saving you some unnecessary expenses.

If the next time a friend or neighbor gets ill, has a baby, or breaks a leg, a mensch might offer to cook a meal for her because it is the right thing to do. And then perhaps the next time you are in need, she will do the same for you, saving you spending high costs for convenience food.

Being a mensch makes the world a better place one person at a time. Sometimes it makes the world a better place three-fold because someone sees you helping a person and then they help someone in return, and so on until it comes full circle and someone down the road is helping you. It’s the idea of paying it forward. Even if it doesn’t come back to you or even if it doesn’t save you money, you can be happy in the knowledge that you have made someone else’s day or saved someone else time or trouble. And sometimes that’s even better than saving yourself money. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it helps bring you financial success, too

In Real Life – I started out this post thinking about something else entirely, but I got sidetracked yesterday and stayed up until 3 AM reading the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Now this person, Greg Mortenson is a real mensch. Delving himself into what seemed like a doomed project, not to mention risking his life, to help build a school for a group of children in Pakistan could only be done by a mensch. At first it didn’t seem like he would succeed, but he was a real mensch and worked tirelessly until he fulfilled his promise to a village in Pakistan. It seems his good works were indeed catching. Because once he got his first goal fulfilled, he started working on building more schools and caught the attention of others to support him both in efforts and monetarily. Years later it seems like the humanitarian efforts of Greg Mortenson has made him into a success with a best-selling book, a good reputation, and I assume some financial success, too. All of this happened because he was a mensch.

There is certainly more to life than making money. Making a difference in people’s lives even by small acts is certainly more important than making a buck. So while the tip in this post might not make you a millionaire or even necessarily become a money maker for you, it may change the life of someone else for the better even with a simple act of being friendly. And who knows it may even lead to financial security, as well. At the very least, you can say you learned a Yiddish word. :-)