LEE’S SUMMIT, JULY 17, 2012 – On Friday last, at a historic firehouse in Roanoke Virginia President Obama made the remark “…if you’re successful, you didn’t get there on your own”. I’m sure if you read newspapers, and blogs like this one, or even listen to the radio or watch television you’re aware of Obama’s follow up comments (see the video if you have not)
I wonder if you go to Total Body Fitness across from the railroad station, and ask Bobby Smith if he achieved his level of success on his own, what he would say.
I even wonder if you go to Extreme Fitness and asked the owner if he had help along the way, what he would say.
There is truly a difference between humility – a wonderful human trait – and honesty to yourself and those around you. I’m not a giant of industry, and I’m not on speaking terms with Bill Gates, but I know that while my family and my friends were always around to help when I needed motivation; in the end it comes down to my own decisions as to whether I take that extra effort, or decide to play it safe.
I suspect that the small business owners from all over Lee’s Summit will readily admit that there was someone to whom they can point to, and say: “I’m glad they were there.” The truth is that they made the choices that put them in the position to succeed.
In baseball the difference between success and failure is less than the blink of an eye. A home run, and a foul ball are fractions of a second apart. Connect too early, you pull it. Connect too late, you fade it. Connect just over the heart of the bat, and the ball flies straight back onto the stands. Only when everything is right can you hit that coveted home run: the transfer of weight, the path of the head of the bat, the slight upward slant of path of the bat, the eyes on the ball watching the bat head hit it, and the long flight out of the park.
That ball player was taught by coaches – but so was I, and probably you. He was presented with opportunities, and he made the best of his abilities. He achieved, while the rest of us could only dream. He put in the hours of batting practice, and fielding practice. He ran the extra laps. One day he made it all the way to Triple A baseball. He was confronted with the toughest decision: Do you want to settle for nearly making it, or do you want a shot at the Show?
If you pay the price of admission you can watch him play ball with the Royals, or with the T-Bones. If he pays the price of sacrifice, extra work, and the ability to hone his God given talents to the level very few others get to; then he gets the chance to play in the big leagues.
Coaches, family, friends, even strangers have helped him get to the point where everything stands in the balance. What tips the scales one way or the other?
Business is the same way. All of us have ideas. All of us work hard. Everyone likes to achieve. Only a few have the talent, the desire, the discipline, and the CAN DO, WILL DO attitude it takes to make it a success – and even then, we are only in Triple A ball.
What tips the scales one way or the other? WE DO! We take all of the potential and convert it into action.
President Obama, inadvertently or purposely (We’ll never know), slapped us on the face and said that our achievements are not ours – “…you didn’t build that.” I don’t know about you, but I am proud of my achievements. They may not be much in comparison to yours or anyone else, but they are my achievements.
I’m grateful for the manager at the old Panel Hut in Fort Wayne Indiana that hired me when I could not figure out how I was going to pay my rent. But that was not enough to get me my college degree – I had to work hard to obtain that.
In view of all of that, the most damaging thing would be for me to stand here tonight and agree with President Obama and say “Yes, you’re right – I’ve achieved nothing, it was all given to me.” It would be damaging because it would be removing my own worth from the equation of my life.
Are you responsible for where you are today – or is it all someone else’s doing?
The Lee’s Summit Conservative