Throughout his life, Andrew Carnegie's concept of success evolved from usefulness and honor, to money and power, and finally to philanthropy and humanitarianism. During his early years, he wanted to be respected and thought of as a hard worker. Later on in his life, his goal was to make as much money as possible with the least amount of actual labor. Finally, as an older man, he strove to give back to the society that made his success a reality. Carnegie's changing view of success is important because it illustrates that anyone can use the things they learn in life to ultimately achieve a worthwhile contribution to humankind. .
In his youth, Carnegie valued usefulness, honor, and respect, and he longed to improve himself. As a boy in Dunfermline, Scotland in the 1840s, he sought to gain knowledge by pushing himself to do well in school. He was a favorite of his teacher, Robert Martin, because he did his duties and studied hard. Very quickly the other children labeled him as "Snuffy Martin's pet," and although Andrew bitterly resented the title, he kept on pushing. Andrew's father Will, who was a hand-loom weaver of damask in Dunfermline, was soon put out of work by steam-powered textile mills. Thus, the Carnegies decided to move to America, the land of opportunity. Margaret Carnegie, Andrew's mother, was ashamed to leave Scotland in poverty and defeat. However, she was determined to see that her sons had a chance for a better future in the United States. Andrew, aged thirteen, aware of his father's failure and his mother's contempt for it, looked to the future for redemption of the past. In the thirteen years between Andrew's birth in Scotland and his family's departure for America, life in Scotland made a lasting impression on him. It implanted attitudes that affected his behavior for the rest of his days. .
By evaluating American realities against Scottish ideals, he found an outlet for his driving ambitions.