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The Joy of Achievement

Last week a man received an award for his bravery during an armed battle. When asked about his upbringing, he said, “My father told me, ‘Whatever you do, do it the best you can. And don’t quit until you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.’” He told how that guided him during the battle so that he didn’t quit when everything looked impossible around him.

This rang true to me. My dad never said these words to me, but I could tell by his hard work and devotion he believed them. My uncles, aunts, and cousins had the same attitude. They were achievers in jobs that had great responsibility, and worked hard and accomplished a lot. I was immersed in this atmosphere and never questioned that I should work hard and give it my all. I saw hard work and stick-to-itiveness are needed for success in whatever you do.

We all worked hard -- no doubt to put food on the table. Also because we were surrounded by this atmosphere that it was the “right” way to go. There was also a certain satisfaction we got from achieving – a sense of pride in doing something well.

People often have similar motivations as they form businesses. I know of two that have been very successful indeed. One is the Mars Candy Company. They were founded more than 100 years ago in America and now sell their candy around the world. Their company philosophy says, “As our business grows, we want everyone in the extended Mars Incorporated family – Associates, suppliers, customers, and community members – to benefit.” Many CEO’s of large companies learned their trade at Mars. It has a reputation for being an excellent training ground for managers. In addition, overall employee satisfaction comes in at around 95%. Fortune magazine lists them among the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Mars ranks second in candy sales worldwide.

As I work I travel extensively in the South in America. I often shop at the Publix Supermarket chain. They were founded in 1930 by George Jenkins. Jenkins believed that workers who owned the business and shared in its success would work harder to exceed customer expectations. So he granted full time and then part time workers stock in the company. They are the largest employee-owned company in the world, and have more than 1000 supermarkets. They’ve never had a layoff. In the 1940’s he introduced several firsts to the grocery business– electric eye opening front doors, air conditioned stores, and freezers offering frozen food. They are always trying new things. This year they tied for first with Wegmans in the vote for America’s Favorite Grocer. They were #1 or #2 in Cashier Courtesy, Fast Checkouts, Availability of items, and Cleanliness.

Individuals and businesses that work hard and achieve feel pride in what they do well. But perhaps part of their satisfaction is they sense the same pleasure that the maker feels when he sees the world working as it's supposed to work.