Success: The First Step,
How George got out of the Ghetto
Here is this book that was old in l959. George Washington Carver (the renowned head professor of the Agriculture Department at Tuskegee University; researcher into, and promoter of, alternative crops to cotton in the Reconstruction South; a man openly praised by President Theodore Roosevelt) was born a slave, and was a sickly child to boot. In the book, he is being interviewed as to what started him on his path from that ghetto predicament to being the famous scientist.
He said it all started with cleaning a cabin. The woman who ran the place where he was a young slave told him if he got this filthy dwelling place clean, he would be an indoor worker. But 'it really has to be clean, George. Call me when you have finished, and I will inspect your work.' She was favoring him. He describes being awed by her, the smell of her clothes, and really wanting to please her. She was from another world to him. George was born in l894, so this scene happened a little after 1900. He describes cleaning the place and proudly calling her.
'Oh, no. This isn't clean. See over there, see that.' George describes his insight into what 'clean' was: a whole new concept. He did as she instructed, and then cleaned some more things on his own. Surely now, he will have succeeded.
'Well George, that is much better, but you forgot the window sill, and those covers have to be removed to the laundry.' George describes a new level of consciousness within himself, an epiphany if you will. He says he sat down and really contemplated the situation with all his might: what 'clean' is. Each and every item in the cabin, and each and every square inch of the cabin, had to be nothing but 'cabin.' He saw several things she had still not mentioned.
This time he took a long time. Hours. He was energized, he says. He was in an altered state. And this time when he called the lady, she praised his work, said it was truly clean, and gave him that promotion.
That is where his success started, George Washington Carver reports in this old interview.
This is the man who made it his destiny to better the lives of subsistence farmers in the South. He researched what crops would put the nitrogen back into the overfarmed soil for them, he developed a training program to implement the crop rotation, and he developed peanut and sweet potato varieties for that purpose, then went farther to develop more than 300 products just for peanuts and 118 for sweet potatoes.
He bettered the lives of those around him. He was so far ahead of his time he promoted peanut oil as a biofuel.
He would probably still have been a success if the lady hadn't asked him to clean the cabin, but that, he says, is the way it actually did happen: That was the actual turning point.