A successful businessman was once invited to give a lecture to a group of students in business school.
Towards the end of his lecture one student asked him, “Mr. Businessman, we’ve all heard of your success; can you please share with us your secret ingredient? What is it that has kept you above and beyond your peers?”
The businessman thought for a moment and then responded:
“Let me share with you a perspective that I’ve gained from years of experience, one that has changed my life and completely transformed the way I approach business.
Business strategy is our effort to invite success, not to achieve it, for success forever contains an element of surprise. Therefore, the more successful I am – the more I recognize how my business acumen has merely invited success – the humble I become, for it makes me wonder why success has chosen to accept my invitation. Incorporating this mindset has changed me as a person; it has changed me from a take-the-credit perspective to a be-grateful perspective.
Indeed, perhaps this is my secret to success.”
We’ve all experienced it before: favorable leads that turn sour, promising deals that surface out of nowhere. So what truly determines success?
When the Talmud speaks of success, it says “toil and you will find;” not “toil and you will achieve,” because success is not so much earned but rather found – it truly comes to us unexpectedly.
Our sages tell the story of a woman who bore seven sons, all of whom became incredibly prominent Jewish leaders. Awed by this, they asked her “which special mitzvah did you observe to merit such wondrous progeny?”
Surprisingly, the sages didn’t ask her which methodology of child-rearing she employed or to which school she sent her sons – rather, they asked her about the good deeds she must have done to deserve the greatness she was blessed with.
Perhaps it is here, between the lines of this story, that the Talmud offers us yet another piece of the secret to success: the ways in which we can merit its surprise arrival.
The gift of success is the Creator’s way of saying “I agree with you.” So when we witness extraordinary results, we ask, what did you do for G-d to agree?
As we move ahead in planning our respective business strategies for 2020, let us each find a way to incorporate a mitzvah that will move G-d to agree.