Earl G. Graves Sr., Chairman & Publisher, Black Enterprise
Among the things that come with the territory of being a reasonably successful and visible person are requests for favors—from family and friends, your church and alma mater, political and community leaders, employees, clients, and business associates, people you’ve known your entire life and total strangers. The further you go and the more you achieve, the greater the requests, in both size and number. You’ll never be able to say yes to all of them—nor should you. But if you’re looking to follow my example, you won’t view these requests resentfully or as a burden; instead you’ll embrace them as a welcome privilege and opportunity to deliver value and make a positive impact. By uplifting others, we are all enriched and empowered.
I passionately believe that with success comes the opportunity, if not the obligation, to respond to the needs and enable the aspirations of others, ranging from family and friends to entire communities, the nation, and even the world. I am always stunned and disappointed by the attitudes of those who achieve wealth and status yet show little or no regard for others—and I am never surprised when their success ultimately proves to be unfulfilling or short-lived. When you reach the top of a mountain, you should not be extending a foot to kick others back, but offering a hand to help lift them up, just as you needed someone to assist you during your climb to the top—and will again, if you are to reach your future goals or maintain your current level of success.
Fortunately, most of us respond positively and enthusiastically to the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. We remember that others—the teachers who encouraged, the relatives who prayed, the mentors who advised, or friends who invested—did the same for us to help make our dreams and goals a reality. The truly successful business person constantly invests in others: helping that young person find a summer job or internship; making a key introduction on behalf of a promising new business owner; providing graduate school recommendations;
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