Friday, January 15, 2010

How do you spell success? (Fred Smith)

I like this Breakfast with Fred (the late Fred Smith Sr) devotion. Practical ...

Years ago, a television commercial asked the question, “How do you spell relief?” The answer was a well-known antacid…Rolaids.

Success can’t be spelled in 7 letters, nor bought at the local drugstore, but it can be put into a formula: Success is the ratio of talents used to talents received.

It isn’t measured by money, accumulations, prestige, or position. “Old Joe is worth ten million dollars,” served my golfing partner. “Really?” I asked. “He may be filthy rich, but he may not be worth a plug nickel!”

Success is about figuring out if what you are doing with what you have, plus who you are becoming is in the right proportion. The greater the percentage of your talents you use – the greater your success quotient.

“I could have been a success, but I didn’t have the opportunities, the right family, the proper education, or the connections.” As he said these things, I realized his failure wasn’t in what he didn’t have, but in not using what he did have. When I worked for GENESCO, I promoted a young man from machine operator to entry-level management because we saw his potential. Shortly afterwards, he was killed in an automobile accident. Maxey Jarman, the corporate chairman, and I drove nearly 100 miles to his funeral. On the way home, Maxey said, “I believe Bill was one of the most successful men we have had in the company.” “Maxey, he was an hourly employee who was just promoted to a small managerial job. Why would you say that?” “Because he used what he had,” was Maxey’s reply.

Success must be defined by the current reality. In the 80s when the bottom fell out of the Dallas real estate business, one of the top realtors came to see me. He was seriously discouraged – almost depressed. “Fred, business is off 40% and I don’t know what to do to hit my numbers.” After talking a little, I suggested he change his goals for the year. “What do you mean?” “Well, why don’t you measure success by survival for this year?”

I saw him two or three months later and he greeted me with a smile. “Fred, I am going to survive and for me right now, that’s success. I can’t beat last year, but I can beat failure.”

Years ago, a circuit-riding evangelist challenged me to “take the gift that God has given you and use it and you will stand before great men.” His paraphrase of Proverbs 18:16 became my life verse and the definition of true success: using what God gives and giving it back for His use.

This week carefully consider: 1) How do I spell success? 2) When do I really feel successful? 3) What is the gift God has given me to use?

Words of Wisdom: “ Success if the ratio of talents used to talents received.”

Wisdom from the Word: “A person’s gift makes room for him, and leads him before important people.” (Proverbs 18:16 NET Bible)

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