On May 20, 2008, a man named Huntington Hartford died. His death made the front page of the Wall Street Journal of that day:
"Deceased: Huntington Hartford, 97, heir to the A&P supermarket who has spent a fortune chasing his dreams in the Bahamas."
The New York Times said:
"Huntington Hartford, who inherited a fortune from grocery store A. & P. and lost most of it by chasing his dreams as an entrepreneur, arts patron and man of leisure, died Monday at his home in Lyford Cay, Bahamas. He was 97. "
"Exhausted" a fortune … "lost" most of it … "chasing" his dreams. The Times said: "He inherited about $ 90 million and lost about $ 80 million." Do the math … he wasn't exactly destitute, with $ 10 million remaining.
Admittedly, Mr. Hartford was fortunate to have enough money to do what he wanted. Was it a failure, however, as suggested by "exhausted", "lost" and "chased"? Why didn't the Journal and The Times posthumously praise him for "spending" his fortune "living" his dreams?
Would Huntington Hartford's life have been better if he hadn't "lost" that much money? If so, why is it bad to "lose" money? Is it "better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"? "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Or is it better to give up and do something else? How would you recommend that your friends and loved ones live their lives? Do you use the same recommendation for your life?
"There is no comparison between what is lost by failing and that which is lost by not trying." – Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
"For most Americans, the worst mistakes are financial and in this regard, I have been Horatio Alger upside down." – Huntington Hartford (1911-2008)