Look Inside for Success

By Bill Hodges

2003 Hodges Seminars International

The success of a nation, a company or an individual begins with preparing what is inside to meet the challenges from the outside. Over the past 50 years, our country has spent billions to meet the real and imaginary challenges from the outside and have allocated less than we should have to strengthen our infrastructure. President Abraham Lincoln made this statement about outside threats to America: "America will never fall due to Chinese gunboats coming up the Mississippi. If she falls, it will be due to inside causes." I think it is time that men of conscience turn to fixing things here before we presume to teach warlords on foreign shores lessons that the ganglords on our own streets have not yet learned. This is not to imply that we, as part of the world community, should become totally isolationists, but it seems to me that we could be of more help in the future if we took time now to get our own house in order.

As to our companies, I find it interesting that one major retailer advertises heavily that they are constantly shopping their competitors to ensure that lower prices are not offered. Having shopped in their stores, it is my belief that they would do well to have those competitive shoppers shop in their own stores and note the lack of customer service. There is no doubt in my mind that there is less for them to fear from outside competition than from their inside inefficiency, discourtesy, and bad service. They are concentrating on what they perceive as an outside threat and failing to see the cancer that is devouring them from the inside. But they are not alone. More and more U.S. companies are reacting to the threat they perceive from abroad by emulating the actions of their foreign competitors. Emulation will never make U.S. companies any better than second-class copies. We must innovate rather than emulate.

Finally, it is vital that if America and corporate citizens are to survive as well as prosper, each of us must look deep inside ourselves. We must determine if we are, in fact, doing what we can to develop our individual abilities to their maximum degree. We cannot do this by comparing ourselves to others. Max Ehrmann says it well in his wonderful poem The Desiderata, "If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain or bitter, for there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." Both vanity and bitterness stop growth and should be avoided at all costs. Compete with yourself and you cannot help but win.

There is sufficient pent-up power inside our country, our companies and our people to meet any of the challenges we must face in the future. To release this power, we must look within for strength, support and ideas. We must make it our first order of business as a nation, company, or individual to accept the challenge to maximize our abilities. If we do, we will be not looked upon as a cheap copy, but rather a masterpiece of great worth.

Bill Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.

Web site: http://www.BillHodges.com

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