By Mark Lupo, CBCP

Remembering those who have served this Veteran’s Day…

“Let us always remember the sacrifices others have made that we may remain free.”  – M. Lupo

The story goes that a U.S. Army Ranger unit was conducting a night operation over the skies of Central America. This particular unit had as its mission to parachute into a hostile drop zone and retake an airfield from enemy forces. {For those familiar with a military night jump, the only illumination are the red lights marking the fact that the plane has not quite reached the drop zone. The sound of the engines of the C-130 are almost deafening as the jump doors are opened.} As the Ranger leader took his place at the jump door, looking out at a night sky now being illuminated by the tracers arching their way to the sound of the plane, the door light went green, signaling the time to exit the plane into the fray below. The Ranger leader turned to his men and in a booming voice, yelled to them, “Be Hard, Rangers… Be Hard!” and then jumped, leading his men into the darkness.

As we look toward the opportunities and challenges that face us in the coming year, my thought to each of you reading this article is, Be Hard…  Not hard with a coldness of spirit, but with a hardness of integrity, finding that place inside each of us that comes with a clarity of purpose and mission not easily broken or swayed. We have seen through the news reports, the accounts from others, both from our fellow owners and from our own experiences, the situations that some of us will encounter as we go forward to build our business. The temptation to cut corners, to unethically conduct business because it is the easy way, will always be there.  When we find ourselves there in those difficult, frightening and really tough situations, where we are unsure which way to go, always remember, Be Hard!

Second, Be Strong… As human beings, as individuals, as business owners, we must continue to build and develop an internal strength of not only our physical bodies, but also of our emotions and our faith. There are times that owning a business can be a very lonely pursuit, where the weight of the decisions we have made in the past, and those facing us in the future, rest heavy on our shoulders.  Many of us have been , and will continue to be, faced with challenging situations that, for some of us, will be some of the most difficult that life has to offer and some of the most painful that one could encounter. There will be times where we will question where the humanity is in this situation. Be strong in those times. Be strong emotionally, be strong physically, be strong in your faith. Be Strong!

And finally, Be Ready… As we know, there is tendency to think that each day will proceed like the one before it, that those we encounter in our daily life will respond to us as we would respond to them.  With each new week, there is a news report of the violence one person inflicts on another,  the overwhelming challenges one community faces due to the challenges that mother nature can bring through extreme weather and sometimes just the unexpected turns that the future brings.  Whether it is the eighth time you have had to close up your shop late in the dark, to the third call from an irate customer, to the continuing weather reports streaming in about the upcoming cold front approaching, Be Ready. We never know when that one instance will be the one where we are called on to make a split-second, life or death decision. Be Ready.

Some years back, my wife and I traveled to Kentucky up I-75. There is a relatively small town just south of Lexington by the name of Corbin (some of you may be familiar with the significance of this quaint community).  We detoured to a side road, 25West, (which used to be the major thoroughfare prior to the interstate system being built) and located a small restaurant there.  I am reminded of this quote (though a little long, is worth the time to repeat).  It was written by someone a few years back that had recently turned the magical age of 65, had an idea for a business, and had successfully taken that idea and developed a successful, profitable business.  It is titled, “The Easy Way”.

It is comparatively easy to prosper by trickery, the violation of confidence, oppression of the weak, sharp practices, cutting corners – all of those methods that we are so quick to attribute and condone as business shrewdness.  It is difficult to prosper by the keeping of promises, the deliverance of value in goods, in services and in deeds – and in the meeting of so called shrewdness with sound might and good ethics.

The easy way is efficacious and speedy – the hard way arduous and long.  But, as the clock ticks, the easy way becomes harder and the hard way becomes easier.  And as the calendar records the years, it becomes increasingly evident that the easy way rests hazardously upon shifting sands whereas the hard way builds solidly a foundation of confidence that cannot be swept away.

Thus we builded.”

“Copied from a plaque placed at the original site in Corbin, Kentucky of the first, Sanders Courts and Café (later Kentucky Fried Chicken) location, penned by ‘Colonel Sanders’ ”

As we move into the new year, let us be reminded of the lessons learned by those before us:  To be hard in our integrity in the face of uncertainty and danger, to be strong in our physical bodies, our mental and emotional being and in our faith and to be ready for the unexpected challenges and opportunities we may face.   It has been said that, “Success happens when opportunity and preparedness meet.”  We can never be sure what is just around the next corner.  Let’s resolve to be ready.  Until next time…