An explosion on April 5, 2010, resulted in the deaths of 29 coal miners at a West Virginia mine, making it the deadliest U.S. coal accident since 1970. An independent report released about a year later blamed the mine’s owner (Massey Energy Co.) for operating “in a profoundly reckless manner” and state and federal regulators for failing to enforce safety laws.
Among the many lessons we might learn from the tragedy is the importance of building — correctly building — reserves that will give us the best chance of success regardless of whether times are Up, Down, or Sideways.
There are four main areas in which we all need reserves — financial, physical, psychological, and spiritual. We all need to save money for a rainy day. We all need to take care of our bodies. We all need to strengthen our minds. We all need to invest in eternity.
But here’s the thing: Our drive to build reserves can’t come at the expense of other people. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of the coal mine explosion. You see, building financial reserves isn’t just about fattening your personal or corporate savings account. It’s also about investing in things like the highest standards for safety for your employees. Or, on a personal level, it can be about investing in others by regularly giving your time, talents, and money.
Another quick example: A man walked into a nonprofit agency that, among other things, operates a food pantry for people in temporary financial distress. He was retired and living on a fixed income, and he needed help, he said, because of an unexpected increase in the costs of his medications. All that was true, but the agency denied his request. Why? Because they discovered he had a savings account worth $200,000. His unwillingness to spend his own reserves — on himself, much less on others — would have damaged the agency’s ability to help others with legitimate needs.
There are payoffs from building reserves the right way, and there are dangers in failing to build them or in building them with impure motives. Commit to building your financial, physical, psychological, and spiritual reserves in ways that prepare you for good times or bad — and in ways that contribute to the greater good of those around you.
This blog is based on content in my latest book, Up, Down, Or Sideways. It is available wherever you buy great books. Click here to learn more about the book