This month marks the 30th anniversary of my graduation from law school in May 1982. I passed the bar exam a few months after graduation and received my license to practice law in November 1982. I opened up my own law practice in January 1983. A month later, my second child (Anna) was born. At that time, I was 25 years old.
When I started my law practice, I didn’t know anything about running a business. After 30 years, I’m finally starting to figure it out. Unfortunately, every time I think I have a handle on things, the earth shifts under my feet. Because of the Internet and the economy, the legal industry is as upside down as every other industry. Every small-business owner who has learned how to succeed in today’s business climate understands that there is no longer any real long-term stability.
Running a successful business is not for the faint of heart. It gets ugly at times and more often than not is very grueling. There’s no safety net. One bad decision can put you out of business. I work six days a week and have gotten in the habit of telling people that it’s a good thing that I’m Catholic or I would probably be working seven days a week.
Over the years, I have invested vast sums of money on seminars, coaching, and other business resources to learn the “secrets” of success. The devout Catholic is at a great disadvantage in the business world, because his (or her) primary focus is not on the acquisition and accumulation of wealth. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of focus that it takes to really get ahead financially.
As a devout Catholic, my primary focus is to increase my knowledge and understanding of God and to help others do the same. If at the time of my death I have not developed an ongoing and loving relationship with God, how can I expect Him to invite me into His Kingdom?
At a minimum, I pray a daily rosary and spend an hour every day with our Lord in the adoration chapel. Although I don’t make it to Mass every day, I’m able to go several times a week. I do a good share of my writing in the chapel, but I have to invest additional time every week outside of the chapel to complete my weekly articles. I also take time for spiritual reading and to keep up with current events in the Catholic Church. A good estimate of time spent on prayer, reading, writing my weekly articles, and traveling to and from the chapel adds up to more than two hours a day.
That’s a lot of time to take away from business and family. I’m not telling you this to complain. I’m simply pointing out that there’s a price (in time and effort) that has to be paid by those of us who want to earn a place in the Heavenly Kingdom.
Back to business.
Just as I take time to read about the lives of the saints, I also take time to read about the lives of the most successful lawyers and businessmen. I think that this is a necessary component to building and promoting a successful business.
One of the businessmen that I pay some attention to is Donald Trump. I know, I know, the guy’s on his third marriage and is a bombastic windbag, but no one can argue with the fact that he knows how to succeed and get things done in the business world. And after all, our Lord did give us permission to learn from individuals who are wise in the ways of the world.
Anyway, here’s what Trump has said about succeeding in business:
To be successful, you have to change from the inside out. Spend a portion of every day working on your personal development. It’s just as important as the time you spend building your business.
Hmmm. That’s interesting, isn’t it? By changing a few words, the same statement would apply to succeeding as a devout Catholic:
To be a devout Catholic, you have to change from the inside out. Spend a portion of every day working on your spiritual development. It’s just as important as the time you spend building your business (or working for someone else).
One of the most interesting aspects about Trump is that he is constantly looking within his own organizations for exceptional people that he can advance and promote. For example, Giavona Pirolo started as a waitress at Trump’s International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. She quickly advanced up the Trump organization after one of Trump’s female executives (who was eating at the restaurant in the golf club) asked her if she would help the executive find shoes to wear to Trump’s wedding. After Trump got word of how Pirolo went above and beyond the call of duty to find shoes for the executive, he promoted her. She is now the marketing director for all of Trump’s Florida properties.
Shawn McCabe was a maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago, a Florida mansion that is owned by Trump. After Trump noticed how diligent McCabe was in maintaining the property, Trump promoted him. McCabe is now the vice president and manager of all of Trump’s Florida properties.
John Nieporte started out as a caddy for Trump. Now he’s the head golf professional at Trump’s International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.
I can tell you from personal experience that it’s extremely hard to find smart, motivated, honest, loyal, dedicated, competitive, hardworking employees. At most, these types of people make up only about 5 percent of the working population. Every businessman, including Trump, has the same problem. When we find someone who has these qualities, we do everything in our power to hold on to them. Without these types of employees our businesses would be in trouble.
Almighty God has the same problem. It’s difficult for Him to find smart, motivated, honest, loyal, dedicated, competitive, hardworking devout Catholics to do His work here on earth. Last year, in my article about cafeteria Catholics, I gave you my definition of a devout Catholic:
A Catholic who: (1) believes in the teachings of the Catholic Church; (2) willingly and unequivocally follows and abides by the teachings and rules of the Church; and (3) willfully and regularly engages in acts of worship and service that go beyond the requirements of the Church.
Are you a devout Catholic? Are you on God’s radar screen when it comes to His search for individuals who are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty? I can guarantee you that He will reward you for all eternity for your efforts.