If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Read a great autobiography, ‘Pour Your Heart Into It’ by Howard Schultz, currently doing a second stint as CEO of Starbucks Coffee. Maybe it’s just where I am in life, but I’m finding I enjoy and learn a lot more reading about leaders’ life experiences than reading abstract principles by them on how to be a good one (a la John Maxwell).

Schultz discovered Starbucks when he was a well-paid marketer for a large house-wares company and knew almost immediately that he wanted to give everything up for this startup. It took him a year of persistence in the face of rejection before he was offered the job of a marketer. A little later on, he became convinced that Starbucks (which was then a retailer selling coffee beans) should open sit-down cafés. The company founders however disagreed, so he left to form his own company. In the course of one year, he pitched the idea to 242 potential investors and 217 turned down his request for seed capital! Eventually, he made it, and 3 years after leaving Starbucks, he returned and bought the company. Since then, Starbucks has grown from a local business with 6 outlets to a global giant with 16,000 outlets in 44 countries and $10 billion in annual sales!

Schultz has some great gems about perseverance…

‘Life is a series of near misses. But a lot of what we call ‘luck’ is seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future… It’s seeing what other people don’t see, and pursuing that vision, no matter who tells you not to. No great achievement happens by luck… Vision is what they call it when others can’t see what you can see’

Good stuff! The only difference in approach for me would be the starting place. That’s beginning by asking God what assignment he wants you to focus on. There are many good things I could spend my life pursuing but you just know that good is often the enemy of great! Once you know you’re where He wants you, then dig in and pursue your God-given dreams with all your heart whatever comes your way.

And if at first you don’t succeed…


7 responses to “If At First You Don’t Succeed…

  1. Hey Pastor M.

    You’re right- persistence pays.

    And aggressively going for what you believe in.

    Great blog…


  2. Thanks! A little bird whispered that someone with your name is on their way to the Big Apple. Please verify the rumor!

  3. The point of your post was to perservere and i think that’s true and encouraging and thank you for the inspiration. However, do you think that maybe need to take a more wholistic view of the illustration?..fine startbucks makes 10bn, but do you know at what cost to people and planet?It’s no secret that it could be more ethical to its workers+farmers and environmentally friendly..

    I believe that we are no longer in the day and age where many retails and large profits are inspiring in and of themselves-those stories, i would kindly argue,of just looking at the rags to riches and being inspired by that have had to go..and that’s a good thing!

    Corporate social responsibility and sustainable development are key. Especially as christians, we should be careful about ”agressively going for what you believe in”–that aggresive bit needs to ensure that the poor, the orphan the widow the foriegner, the marginalised are not being destroyed in the process..

    so maybe an even better post would have included not just money and number of chains but justice and mercy issues. Therfore, thank you for making a good general point, but maybe this wasn’t a sucess story after all….

  4. i think the most annoying and or depressing thing about people with great vision who have led or birthed organizations and movements that are of great success, is how the stories sound soo dreamy if not unbelievable…from steve jobs to billy graham to abraham in the bible…yaaani its as though the seem to live such extraordinary lives in such “normal circumstances”. is like they’ve seen through the matrix, and are clear about their contribution to humanity. as a leader in my generation i am curious to know what they will write about me in some blog or book sometime soon if jesus doesn’t come…and will my name be synonymous with vision? thanks for the thought pastor m!!definitely food for thought..and yah, starbucks has issues like whoa!!but i think the moral is that it has grown phenomenally, so off course the issues it has are big…maybe the lesson here is “with great power comes great responsibility…

  5. Good stuff, cool jamaa. Couldnt have said it better. And nyina, in appreciating the book, I am not endorsing Starbucks as an organization (just like I can appreciate and learn from King David but choose not to aquire other people’s wives!)
    I absolutely agree; the higher you climb in responsibility, the smaller your range of options (and the more your critics!). But I still have to choose; climb anyway, or to stay down and take pot shots at those who did… as a famous writer once said, ‘if you want to walk on water, you’ve got to climb out of the boat!’
    Thanks for pushing back on this guys.

  6. Thanks pastor m!Maybe the increase in critics the higher up you go is coz ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’…Cool jamaa makes a good point of increased responsibility..I like. I wonder then if there is a place where you just need to stop climbing higher if that high-ness is at the expense of the vulnerable..hmmm.As for jon ortberg, he has the sort of books you could just buy coz of the title..like, ‘at the end of the game they all go back into the box’ and then it has a scrabble thingie with a coffin..genius!

  7. This is quite true. Cool Jamaa, Nyina, mw… Ok, Pasi pia, Maybe the flashy testimonies about how one never failed make others think that we are privilleged before God. How about being so open to speak of the failures that we have encoundered along the way, what we learnt from them. How God is using that to mould us ans sit back and watch God change people through our brokeness?

    The worst thing is not to fail- the worst is not to learn a thing from failure.

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