The road to Success

So, I called to talk to a friend (Maryanne), a couple of weeks ago, after a Sunday food pantry. I was astonished to find out that she was getting snacks together for her and her husband to share during the Super Bowl that evening. I didn’t know she followed football. After asking her a few questions it turned out she didn’t watch the Super Bowl to watch football. She watched the commercials. I asked her if she was kidding. I put good money into a DVR to avoid watching commercials. But upon further questioning it was obvious she was serious.
I went online to find out what that was all about. I had heard people talking about the commercials before but I didn’t realize it was a really big thing. I discovered a 30 second commercial cost about $5.6 million. That’s pricey. But the cost doesn’t stop the advertisers. There was a long list of them.
Then a story jumped out at me. Papa John’s was no longer a sponsor of the Super Bowl. Pizza is always an attention getter so I checked it out. According to Wikipedia, John Schnatter is the founder of Papa Johns. Schnatter founded Papa John’s Pizza in 1984, when he converted a broom closet in the back of his father’s tavern. Schnatter sold his 1971 Z28 Camaro to purchase $1,600 worth of used pizza equipment and began selling pizzas to the tavern’s customers. His pizzas proved so popular that a year later he moved into an adjoining space. The company went public in 1993. A year later it had 500 stores, and by 1997 it had opened 1,500 stores. In 2009, Schnatter reacquired the Camaro after offering a reward of $250,000 for the car. His net worth is estimated to be $1.2 billion. He has stepped down as CEO. Papa John’s has over 5,199 establishments, 4,456 franchised restaurants operating domestically in all 50 states and in 44 countries and territories. That’s some story.
Before he stepped down, Success Magazine did an article on John of Papa John’s and they said, ” Pizza is Schnatter’s life, and he takes it very seriously.” Experts spend time trying to figure out what makes people successful. They look at people’s intelligence, education, and other factors, but more than anything else the thing that makes the difference is having passion for what you are doing and a good attitude.
Getting good grades in school doesn’t correlate with success. Fifty percent of the leaders of Fortune 500 companies didn’t do above average in college, seventy five percent of US Presidents were in the bottom half of their college classes. Einstein flunked out of college.
What makes it possible for ordinary people to do extraordinary things? You must have a passion for what you are doing. Passion is defined as a strong and barely controllable emotion.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
If you think about great leaders in the world, the characteristic that stands out is their passion for what they did. Martin Luther King and Gandhi for human rights, Winston Churchill for freedom, and Bill Gates for technology.
It is said, a small fire creates little heat and little change in the things around it. The stronger your fire and passion for what you believe in the greater your potential for accomplishing and seeing the things that we think are important, come to be.
If we say that God is important in our lives and we have no passion for serving Him and seeing His Kingdom increase here on Earth, then He is not as important to us as we say He is.
The impossible becomes possible when we have a fire in our heart. Years ago, I taught piano to several young students. One student was talented from the start. She learned how to play almost instantly. After a few lessons, she quit. Others I taught, struggled to learn. But the passion was there to play piano and they enjoy it to this day. Having a great passion and a few skills always accomplishes more than having great skills and little passion. What you are talented enough to do, is not nearly as important as what you think you are talented enough to do.
Anthony “Tony” Campolo (born February 25, 1935) is an American sociologist, pastor, author, public speaker and former spiritual advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton. He emphasizes that Christians should be paying attention to Jesus’ words and example by promoting biblical values such as peace, building strong families, the elimination of poverty, and other important social justice issues (referred to as the Red-Letter Christian Movement). I learned about him in college when I was assigned readings by my sociology professor.
Tony Campolo says, ” We are caught up at a particular stage in our national ethos (beliefs) in which we are not only materialistic but worse than that we are becoming emotionally dead as people. We don’t sing, we don’t dance, we don’t even commit sin with much enthusiasm.” When was the last time that you couldn’t sleep because you were so excited by an idea?
Jesus’ suffering between the last Supper and His death is called His passion. He came to save those who were lost, and he had a passion for what he was doing to the extent that he was willing to give His life.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Not only do we have to have a passion for what we believe in, we have to have a positive attitude.
Life magazine in a special double issue in 1997, placed Thomas Edison first in the list of the “100 Most Important People in the Last 1000 Years”, noting that the light bulb he promoted “lit up the world”. He invented 1,093 things and was granted at least one patent every other year for 65 consecutive years. Most people said that Thomas Edison’s ability was due to creative genius, but Edison once said in a famous quote, “Genius is ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration.”
Edison was an optimist that saw the best in everything. He said, ” If we did all the things that we were capable of doing we would astound ourselves.” When it took him ten thousand tries to find the right material to create an incandescent light bulb, he didn’t look at them as failures but as ways to eliminate the things that didn’t work and bring him closer to the solution. And, he never doubted that he would find the right one.
His positive attitude could be summed up in a statement that he made. “Many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” His attitude was reflected in a statement that he made to people who worked with him. He said, “If the only thing that we leave our kids is the quality of enthusiasm, we will have given them an estate of incalculable value.” Maybe the best example of his positive attitude was the way he dealt with a great tragedy in his life. Edison had built a huge laboratory that was bigger than three football fields. From there he and his staff created inventions, made the prototypes, produced them and sent them to customers.
Edison loved his lab and spent as much time there as possible. Sometimes he even slept on one of the lab tables. When he was in his late sixties, one day in December of 1914 his Lab caught fire, and as he stood and watched it burn he was reported as saying, “Kids, go get your mother. She will never see another fire like this one.” He later said, ” I am sixty-seven, but not too old to make a fresh start. I’ve been through a lot of things like this.” And he kept working for another seventeen years.
Later he said, ” I am long on ideas, but short on time, I expect to live only to be about a hundred.” He died at eighty-four. If Edison had not had the positive attitude that he did he would have never accomplished all the things that he did.
To be effective in our families, in our profession, in our community, and in our service for God, we have to do all that we can to develop a positive attitude. No matter what happened to you yesterday our attitude today is our choice. Attitude is the formula for success.
Eugene Patterson, an American journalist and civil rights activist and Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote, “Pity is one of the noblest emotions available to human beings; self-pity is possibly the most ignoble…[It] is an incapacity, a crippling emotional disease that severely distorts our perception of reality…a narcotic that leaves its addicts wasted and derelict.” The best way to hold on to a positive attitude or change a negative attitude is to give yourself mental pep talks, and refuse to let you mind go down any negative forks in the road.
Romans 8:37 – 39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That alone should give us a positive attitude. Amen.

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