Whoever thinks about themselves too much will suffer from fear.” The Dalai Lama told me this once upon a time in Rishikesh and I considered myself to be a perfect example of this, although I was never entirely devoid of responsibility. I always took responsibility for my texts, but only for them and nothing more, and I imagined that I was not alone in the club of dead and living poets. The list of authors who are good fathers to their prose but not to their children is rather long. Of course, the same holds true for musicians, painters, and the dying swans of the ballet. Art would appear to be a rather jealous deity. Is that bad? Is that wrong? If a man like Dostoevsky bequeaths the world of literature with six great novels, while leaving his wife with nothing. He even went as far as to take away her last fur coat to pay off his gambling debt. Even scientists are guilty of only acting responsibly when it comes to their work. Einstein did everything imaginable to prove his theory of relativity, but he did precious little for his schizophrenic son Eduard, whom he left alone in a mental hospital for nearly 20 years. And this finally brings me to someone who has succeeded in taking a more holistic approach.
Reinhold Würth learned all about shouldering responsibility on his own. When he was 19, he took charge of his family, his employees, and his company. We all know what became of that. Is Reinhold Würth happier than Albert Einstein as a result? That would be one question. The other is: Does this have anything to do with happiness? I am amazed by people who say “no” to this. Because clearly, they have freed themselves from chasing after happiness. It is not about happiness. Instead, it is about making the best out of life, ideally for everyone.
The entrepreneur once said, “The interests of the company are inextricably linked to the interests of the employees.” And of course, the opposite also holds true. A company that goes bankrupt can do very little for its employees. And employees who do very little for their company will ensure that it goes bankrupt. In this case, pressure to succeed is not a form of chicanery but rather a survival technique for the greater good. And because Reinhold Würth took this to heart years ago, more than 78,500 employees around the world can be grateful for a secure job. Most of you have families, adding up to a total of 150,000 to 200,000 people, or the population of a medium-sized city, who live off the company’s success. A great example of what a sense of responsibility can achieve.
Certainly, there are also less rational motives to do the right thing. Love is one such motive. If it is a matter of love, then you do not have to give a moment’s thought as to whether and how you want to help yourself, your family, your company, the arts, and the world. That comes naturally. The same applies to love’s little sister: empathy. This takes me back to the Dalai Lama, since he speaks a great deal about compassion. Without empathy, responsibility is often limited to a sort of humanistic ideology. In fact, this is good news because it makes everything so much easier. You need only turn on your heart and it will take care of the rest.
An explorer, journalist and travel writer, our guest author Helge Timmerberg was born in Hesse in 1952. On the occasion of Würth’s anniversary, the bestselling Spiegel author wrote a biography titled “The Lord of the Screws” about Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth, which was published in April 2020.