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Albert Schweitzer - Success and EthicsAlbert Schweitzer - Success and Ethics


Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)


German (later French) doctor (pictured right), missionary and philosopher.

In 1905 he gave up his well paid job as a college principal to train as a doctor and become a missionary.

In 1913, he went to Gabon in Central Africa with his wife, Hélène, a nurse, to build a hospital in the jungle (pictured right below together).

Received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

 Albert Schweitzer - Success and Ethics

What did he say about success and ethics?


1. “Reverence for life”

This means:

  • keeping healthy 
  • being kind (to every one and all living creatures including the African patients he served).
  • hating war and cruelty.
  • earning other people's trust through love (so do something unpaid for someone every day).

The tragedy is people are lonely, even though they are rarely alone.


2. The importance of truth

Truth (based on love):Albert Schweitzer - Success and Ethics

  • is always beneficial (even if it’s painful)
  • must be put into action now.

“Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now – always”, he said.

Schweitzer is pictured right on Time magazine's cover in 1949 (courtesy of Time magazine)  



3. Think and learn

You can improve your learning by:

  • reflection - think about yourself and how you affect other people.
  • reason - find out why things happen through the gathering of facts, analysis and argument.
  • curiosity - the more you learn, the more you discover what you don’t know, and the more you want to know.
  • simplicity - make complicated things clear and simple. Albert Schweitzer - Success and Ethics

 Schweitzer is pictured right in 1955.


4. Faith in God

You will be happiest, if you thank God for what you’ve got.

But faith in God must not blind you to indisputable facts.


5. Follow your conscience and your principles

  • always do what’s right (even if you don’t get paid for it) 
  • don’t rely on anybody else to do it for you.

But nobody can be totally good.

“A man does not have to be an angel to be a saint”, he said.

 Albert Schweitzer - Success and Ethics

6. Love what you do

In your work and leisure enjoy what you do, and then you will be happy and successful.

Schweitzer is pictured right smiling with an African child (courtesy of Corbis).   


7. Lead by example

Lead a good life and then others will follow your good example.


Key quotes on ethics

Ethics...are nothing but reverence for life.

Ethics is a state of solidarity with other human beings.

A man does not have to be an angel to be a saint.


Key quote on society

The disastrous feature of our civilization is that it is far more developed materially than spiritually.


Key quotes on success

The great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.


Key quotes on influencing people

My life is my argument.

In resigning ourselves to our fate without a struggle, we are guilty of inhumanity.


Key quotes on business ethics

What matters is whether your soul is harmed by what you do.

We cannot abdicate our conscience to an organization, nor a government.


Key quote on happiness

The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man when he lives.


Key quote on careers

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.


 Key quote on wisdom

Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now – always.

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