The Traveler and the Limo Driver

Black limo

Today I woke at 5:00 a.m., slightly earlier than my usual 5:30 wake-up time, to meet my limo for a trip to the airport. I am off on yet one more business trip where the objective, if met, will result in moving my own efforts closer to success.

But today was different from other days. My cab driver was Middle Eastern, an energetic young man with a big friendly smile. He was eager to assist me in getting to the airport efficiently and quickly. He started to chat about sports and I tuned him out; I am not a sports fan.

I wasn’t being rude, just not that interested. He sensed that and switched to a different topic. He asked if I follow politics and I said I do but I don’t pay a lot of attention to the things I cannot change.

And at 5:30 a.m., there’s little I am interested in talking about most days.

But then he spoke of his father, having passed in the last few months at 57. A young man by any measure – and how life in the Middle East had influenced and possibly accelerated his untimely demise. He spoke passionately of his father’s dreams of a peaceful country and families leading a peaceful existence. He spoke of the injustices in this world and the abusive governments who crush the spirits of those they rule. It sounded as if he was bitter and angry, unfortunately, common for those living in that region.

To my utter surprise, he then spoke of the joy of living in America, of having two jobs, going to school and eventually building a business. He spoke with passion and in great detail about his dreams and how he planned to accomplish them, all within his grasp.

As a lifelong, card-carrying entrepreneur, he now had my attention!

I was delighted to engage my young driver in conversation about what he planned to do with his life. It was a special treat for me to hear him speak about how each day he gets closer to his goals and knows that one day God will reward him with success.

God?

The skid marks must have been obvious as my smile and continuous low-frequency nodding came to a halt. “God?” I asked. “Is it God who is bringing you success?” I asked with only good intentions at having a stimulating conversation.

“Oh yes!” he insisted. “It is His Will that brings me closer to what I want!” he exclaimed emphatically. Playing off his position, wanting to shift the credit to his own hard work, I asked, “So why does God reward you and not your brethren?”

He smiled and replied, “Because in my heart I am dedicated to God.”

I saw my opening. “That’s wonderful of course but what about your own efforts; your night classes? What about your early mornings driving this limo, the second job you hold and your plans to build a business? Do you think those things have anything to do with your future success?”

He smiled at me like a lost child. “Yes, of course, they do, but it’s God who decides what happens to me.”

scrollsMan Plans, God Laughs

Is there such a thing as destiny? Are our whole lives mapped out in some heavenly book by an invisible scribe who decides what happens to us tomorrow?

Should a person plan their future if there is such a thing as fate?

I think those who are prepared get “lucky” or those who work towards their goals find a way through faith, true grit or otherwise, to be successful. It really doesn’t matter where that drive comes from. It could originate with God, family, or even a higher purpose than that. But it’s always present in those who are successful. It’s that animation, the spirit of life itself and the power of alignment that creates success more than any other ingredient. It defines persistence.

It could originate with God, family, or even a higher purpose than that. But it’s always present in those who are successful. It’s that animation, the spirit of life itself and the power of alignment that creates success more than any other ingredient. It defines persistence.

Still Running on Faith?

I continued to push my new friend, just a little further, to see if I can find his self-confidence and maybe provide a few ideas or leads.

I said, “I too can be inspired to be productive and come up with new ideas, new products or solutions to problems, but I believe that hard work and preparation are required to succeed, don’t you?”

And he nodded quickly agreeing with me. “Yes, of course, I do. But only if it’s God’s will.”

I tried a little different angle. “So if it’s NOT God’s will, and you try anyway will you fail?”

Now he took his time answering me more carefully than before. “You will not be inspired if it’s not God’s will” and to that, I agreed.

I then asked, “What would you tell someone who is not successful in business or in life about how to become successful?” He once again became animated in his response. “Tell them to pray and ask God for guidance and it will come!”

For this young man, his faith, and his ambition were both strong and aligned. He will succeed because he believes he will.

Looking Inside…

When I traded securities for a living, I hung on words of the “super successful,” the best people in the business who spoke from the podium about how they acquired their wealth. They said the most successful people in this business have the most options. They know the right people and have carefully prepared themselves to be in the right place at the right time. That seems to be completely true, but experience has shown me that these factors alone are not enough.

What makes success real, is the drive inside, the spirit that animates, the natural unseen force where “gut feel” and spontaneous decisions come from, no matter how much we know.

I decided long ago that God was my higher power, The Creator, our Supreme Being, but growing up in the Jewish religion, we were taught to question even the Torah. I was not alone in that pursuit; for every page of the Torah, there are hundreds of published works from esteemed religious leaders interpreting them. What resulted for me was an appreciation for being able to question authority, challenge conventional thinking and make my own decisions. I still practice the art of polite but insistent defiance every day; that’s how I test the world to see what it will really do, and not just trust what people say it will.

plane in airport

The one hour ride went quickly that morning as we approached the entrance to the airport.

That brief conversation with my limo driver left me thinking about how we all go about being successful and how sometimes we fail. As I thought about what he was saying to me, this is what I heard:

  1. Decide what you want to do, make a plan and pursue that plan.
  2. Check to see if you are completely aligned, that you are inspired, that you are coming from that place of “knowing,” where ever that comes from for you.
  3. When you feel as if you are not going anywhere, push forward and trust your initial decision, make something happen, then judge the outcome.
  4. Consider a partner or a mentor who can provide you with sound advice and hold you accountable, someone with a different perspective yet has been there before.
  5. Finally, trust that you will be taken care of if you work hard, stay focused on your goals and “know” you are on the right path!
  6. Ignore self-doubt, naysayers, critical comments and of course those who think you can’t accomplish your goals; they are the two and one-half percent of society who only want to cause problems.

Simple reminders of the lessons I’ve been practicing all my own life. While many of us may know success, I have never considered how strong a driving factor faith can be, but in a different way, passion is what I seek in the young entrepreneurs I mentor and coach. Today I see success through the eyes of my young friend who helped me to see his perspective, and for that I am grateful.

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