No. 885



It is an amazing, wonderful and yet powerful thing how the human mind can take us back in time to recall small details of meetings or events that happened years ago. When I thought about my topic today, I recalled an incident that happened more than 40 years ago. I could see this almost as vividly as if it happened just yesterday.
One day my family and I were camping at a Corps of Engineers camp ground on the Arkansas River. This was during the time I was enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course in Little Rock. I was standing on the river bank fishing when a truck approached that contained two men. One was my former Dale Carnegie instructor, the late Bob Gannaway. When Bob saw me he said, “I know people in the ranks … and then stopped.” I then finished the famous quote by Dale Carnegie that goes, “Who will stay in the ranks. Why? I will tell you why: Simply because they don’t have the ability to get things done.” I might add that a quote is just a well-stated truth that has stood the test of time.
When you think about what I have just shared, the real question becomes: Why do some people have the ability to get things done while others don’t? Well, I can give you the answer in a nutshell. The small percentage of people who can get things done have the ability to look other people in the eye and ask them to buy, whether it’s a product, a service or an idea. The vast majority of people can’t, or better still won’t, do this because they are afraid they will get turned down or make a mistake. If you happen to be one of these people, I have some great news for you. We all make mistakes regardless of how successful we are or how much we can get done. The key is to learn from our mistakes and not make the same ones over and over again.
What I have just shared should not be confused with the vast number of people who are successful or even world class as performers, such as actors, musicians, singers, athletes and many others who are good enough at what they do that we will pay to see them perform. Of course this list not only includes individuals but teams as well. These people are simply on a stage, field, court or other arena that someone else provided for them to use. If you will go back far enough, you can bet that at some point the people who had the original idea looked someone else in the eye and asked them to help, provide the money or other means of support. In other words, they asked them to buy. This is how stadiums, ball parks, theaters and other venues are built. Here is something not well known. While Andrew Carnegie had a lot of money, it was a young conductor who sold him on the idea of building Carnegie Hall.
Now please don’t misconstrue what I am going to say next as being vain, because I certainly don’t mean it that way. In 1974, the Purchasing Management Association named me “Salesman of the Year” in Arkansas. God has gifted me with the ability to look others in the eye and ask them to buy, which translates into getting things done. I have thought about this and I believe the reason is because I would never consider selling a service, a product or an idea that I did not believe in. This is really the essence of getting things done.
In my semi-retirement years I see the things I am involved in as service to the Lord. This includes my church, column, Lions Club and the Bookcase for Every Child project. When I get serious about raising funds to help any of these causes, I put on my suit and tie, and take some supporting material and call on decision makers in person, look them in the eye and ask them to buy. Many do.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)