You learn so much as part of a team: your role models
Are you starting your own business? Perhaps you’ve already travelled on this path for some time? Or maybe still just thinking about it? Excellent! I wish you all the very best. Perhaps the following few paragraphs will help.
People who can inspire us
I think every entrepreneur can learn from the example of others. We need to study what others have done in the kind of business we’re interested in. They can become your role models. Their life is like an open, living text-book, teaching us many important things we need to do, to succeed as they did.
Be smart! Don’t re-invent the wheel, but learn from other people’s mistakes. Take on board the hard lessons they’ve learned. You can short-circuit the learning process. Why on earth waste long years discovering what someone else already knows and lives?
Example of Maximilian
Let me share the example of a truly awesome entrepreneur, whose life has been a personal inspiration to me for almost 60 years: Rev. Maximilian Kolbe. Never heard of him? Perhaps that’s because he wasn’t a businessman at all; he was a Franciscan priest and monk. Maybe we could call him a religious entrepreneur? His “business”? Helping people discover a deeper meaning in their life.
He was an extraordinary and passionate Christian missionary, who inspired and led millions of others to a better way of life. Heroically, he also lived to the full the message of love that he preached: in 1941 he freely sacrificed his life for another prisoner in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, dying of thirst and starvation. His church awarded him the greatest possible recognition and honor, declaring him a saint. A brief look at a few of the things he did show us what one man can do.
A preaching revolutionary
Already, a hundred years ago, Maximilian totally transformed the way the gospel was preached. He had the vision and courage to break the ancient mould. This was largely preaching to the “converted”, and restricted to the church pulpit. He realized that there are countless better ways to get the message out there. Using the mass media he could reach out to all kinds of people.
Like a wise entrepreneur, he always knew he couldn’t do much on his own. He inspired so many young people to join him that his work became massive. He eventually founded a new Franciscan community in Poland that had almost 700 brothers. They spread the Christian gospel through all the very latest means of communication: the printed word, radio, film, even TV – then still in its infancy.
Before the second world war he was even building runways for his own aircraft. All the work was done with the help of his Franciscan community. A brilliant organizer, he achieved a success that made history. There had never been a religious community like it: nor since!
He was a man who, in spite of constant ill-health, developed an unbelievable personal strength, courage and determination, because his work was beyond everything his contemporaries imagined or even approved.
How did he achieve all this? Very simple. Like every successful entrepreneur, he discovered his passion, and then really lived it. He was a deep thinker, and soon discovered the one thing that he loved, more than anything else in the world: sharing his faith in the God of love to make people happy and fulfilled.
His own role model was St Francis of Assisi, the 13th Century founder of the Franciscan Order. Like Francis, he sought to live the Christian gospel as literally as possible. This gospel was summed up by Jesus himself: love God, love neighbor.
Like Maximilian, my role model was also St Francis. I was also inspired to become a Franciscan.
My religious challenges
I spent 7 long years in a Franciscan seminary, training to become a priest and monk. Our self-discipline was forged in a well-structured and demanding 16-hour day. Then, after 20 years as a priest, I faced my greatest challenge yet: a call to work in Latin America. I spent 5 years in Honduras and 3 years in Costa Rica. You can well imagine the inner strength I needed for such a massive life-style change!
Following the example of both St Francis and St Maximilian inspired me to try my very best to carry out my own mission. And I am nothing special: just an ordinary boy who found good role models. I faced risks, doubts, challenges every single day; and so will you as an entrepreneur.
Think of the late Steve Jobs and his Apple team. A man of great inner strength and conviction, willing to dedicate himself to his vision, and meeting with unparalleled success. He had learned, as we all do, by his constant effort to grow, strengthen and build himself into something special.
Your Personal transformation
Personal transformation really is possible for everyone. It’s no secret: everybody knows that. Why not you too? Be another Maximilian or Steve, or whoever else inspires you. Learn from them, copy them, let their example mentor you. Believe the countless thousands others who’ve done it.
Read their stories, listen to their testimony, learn some of their practical strategies and tips. In this way you are empowered to build your own character, strength of will and the pursuit of excellence in your own unique way.
We all have the power to change, grow, develop and become stronger, wiser, successful. And, I believe, most important of all: you can also become much more loving, giving, and making a real difference.
Success is also for you
To sum up: work smart, copy the best. The more you grow, the better your chances of success. So be brave, stretch and inspire yourself, pick up the baton and go for it. Play your small part in leaving this world a better place when it’s time to go. Maximilian did. Steve did. I have tried to do the same. Why not you too?
You could even die happy and fulfilled. Now that is worth fighting for!
Gerry McCann – The Merry Monk