A Tale of Dedication

My wife had a grandfather called Ben Goldfein. His name started as Benjamin until a grade one teacher told him his name was too long for such a small boy and changed it to Ben.  He was a man of great principle and left a legacy of stories containing principles by which to live, all of which continue to live on in the family many years after his death.  Ben started work at about the age of eight, shining shoes. At about the age of fourteen he went to work for Bell Telephone Company as an “office boy”. He found the accounting office interesting, and so after completing night school, and putting himself through part-time university he became an accountant. After 49 years, 5 months and 28 days he retired as the Senior Internal Auditor of Bell Telephone Company in the Midwest of America.

Ben had a dream of building what did not exist in Minneapolis in those days, namely a private school that taught timeless Biblical Morals and Values. When he asked people to donate money for the project, the standard question they would ask him was can we afford to do this project? His answer, which resonates even more loudly in the times in which we currently find ourselves was, “can we afford not to do the project”.

This answer is replete with values. I will focus on just one of them. That is the value of commitment. It took Ben twenty years to get this project completed and the school is still a thriving institution today. Commitment is demonstrated not so much in terms of what you are prepared to give as in what you are willing to sacrifice or invest.

Commitment means being prepared to continue in the face of cynicism and opposition, being prepared to win a few and sometimes lose many. So many today are only prepared to stay on the team if they are in the A team, continue in debating if they win, stay at the school if they are head prefect and not deputy or just an ordinary prefect.

In the working world this translates into expecting promotions, bonuses and rewards in the promise of better performance or more delivery in the future.

People who show real commitment and true investment in what they hold be of value focus on the process not the outcome. The process happens in the day to day contribution and working at doing what has to be done.  Committed people do not worry about the outcomes or immediate results because they understand that outcomes aggregate out of the tenacity, diligence, small victories and accumulated wisdom that are the outgrowth of consistent meaningful day to day contribution.

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