(Originally written, April 1992)

This week I’m preparing a talk on “Success” for a business and professional group in Denver. Hopefully, I’ll also share my research with our sales force during our April meeting in Dallas. I took some thoughts from famous successful people and have matched them up with the real life experiences of my favorite Bible characters.

  • “An executive cannot gradually dismiss details. Success is the sum of detail. It might perhaps be pleasing to imagine oneself beyond detail and engaged only in great things, but as I have often observed if one attends only to great things and lets the little things pass the great things become little; that is, the business shrinks. No business can be called safe until it has been forced to learn economy and rigidly to measure values of men and materials.” – Harvey S. Firestone

Nehemiah built the wall under tremendous opposition while calculating every detail.

  • “The first law of success in this day, when so many things are clamoring for attention, is concentration – to bend all the energies to one point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left.” – William Matthews

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal.” – Paul

  • “Men who have attained things worth having in this world have worked while other idled, have persevered when others gave up in despair, have practiced early in life the valuable habits of self-denial, industry, and singleness of purpose. As a result, they enjoy in later life the success so often erroneously attributed to good luck.” – Grenville Kleiser

Daniel and his three friends were taken into captivity in Babylon at about 14 years of age. They denied themselves the luxuries of royalty, remained focused, and history records that 70 years later Daniel was serving as Vice President under his fourth King while still in the foreign land.

  • “There isn’t much thrill in success unless one has first been close to failure.” – William Feather

Success is never final and failure never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” – George F. Tilton

All of us can identify with Peter who after proclaiming his loyalty to Jesus denied Him three times. Yet, we find Peter preaching his sermon in power to 3000 people having triumphed over his earlier failure. The immature impetuous fisherman became the leader of the early church.

  • “No pleasure philosophy, no sensuality, no place nor power, no material success can for a moment live such inner satisfaction as the sense of living for good purposes, for maintenance of integrity, for the preservation of self-approval.” – Minot Simons

Joseph rejected the sensual offering of Potiphar’s wife and his integrity was rewarded as he ruled as the number two man in Egypt during the famine.

  • “Vacillating people seldom succeed. Successful men and women are very careful in reaching decisions and very persistent and determined in action thereafter.” – L.G. Elliott

James writes “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature…because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind…a double minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

  • “Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury…to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that simply and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind.” – Albert Einstein

Proverbs – “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread, otherwise I have too much and disown you…or become poor and steal.”

  • “The vital force in business life is the honest desire to serve. Business, it is said, is the science of service. He profits most who serves best. At the very bottom of the wish to render service must be honesty of purpose, and as I go along through life, I see more and more that honesty in words, thought, and work means success. It spells a life worth living and in business, clean success.”
    – George Eberhard

Jesus – “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.”

  • “Success consists of being and doing, not simply accumulating.” – B.C. Forbes

Jesus – “For what good is it if a man gains the whole world but loses his own self?”

Finally a favorite definition of success can be found on my son’s bedroom wall:

  • “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Next month I’ll share a couple more quotes along with my conclusions on Success.

Seeking to Serve Successfully,


About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

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