I turned 57 this past week. It seems like just yesterday that my Dad was running up and down the sidewalk banging on the windows yelling “It’s a boy! It’s a boy!”.
As I grew and went from crawling to walking, I was always being encouraged. “You can do it! Walk to Momma. Come on! Let go and take a step!”
I took my first step because my Mom and Dad knew that I could. I’m not sure what I thought at that age, but I know that I took that first step because they believed that I could.
This would be the theme of my early years as I grew from a toddler to grade school, middle school, and high school. I remember my Mom telling me that I could do anything I put my mind to. I believed that in my early years and dreamed of being a cowboy, a fireman and then during the Apollo moon landings, an astronaut. I thought I would be the first person to walk on Mars. After we went to the moon, Mars was the next step, right?
I’m not quite sure when it started, but at some point in my early years, I quit believing.
It was probably because of a setback when I attempted something and failed miserably. I don’t remember when, but I do know that at some point I started to doubt.
“I can’t do it!”
“Mom says I can, but I can’t. She’s just saying that because she’s Mom.”
The Power of Others
It was around this time that I was playing with friends down the street, and their Dad suddenly comes out of the house and says, “Let’s go guys. Little league signups are today.” I had been playing ball around the neighborhood but didn’t know anything about Little League. I remember standing off to the side and my friend’s dad, Oscar Humphrey, saying, “Come on Phil. You’re a good ball player. You need to join the team too.” I hopped in the car with them and went to the signups. He believed in me and because of that, I got to play ball for a few years on a team.
In middle school, I was in the band and I played the trumpet. I didn’t think I was that good, (doubt), but the band instructor, Mr. Stockton, put me in as first chair trumpet. He believed in me and I got much better and lived up to the first chair until I got braces. That ended my trumpet playing, but for a brief while, I excelled at something based on someone else’s belief in me.
While in high school, I joined the chorus. I had an ok voice, or so I thought, but the choral teacher, Mrs. Brooks encouraged me to try out for the Bellaire’s, which was the elite singing and hand-bell group. I made the Bellaire’s and was in the group my whole time in high school. I also took part in theatre and was in a lead role in each of the plays during my high school years. I started out thinking I wasn’t that good and wasn’t even going to try out for chorus, much less the Bellaire’s but someone else believed in me and I excelled.
In college, we had an annual singing program put on by each class and social club in the spring. When I was a freshman I believed, because of my theatre experience in high school, that I could direct our social club group. I planned the songs and blocked the movements for the club’s presentation. We won first place. The next year, I directed our dorm’s presentation and we won second place. I believed in my abilities and acted on them. The next year, several clubs and groups asked me to direct them. I had made a believer out of them. If I had not believed in myself and stepped out when I was a freshman, I would have just been another participant in the programs or possibly just be sitting in the audience.
When it was time to graduate from college, my good friend, Dennis Wisdom, who knew everyone in the tech scene in Lubbock, TX, had me apply for a job at the Lubbock County courthouse IT department. I got the acceptance call a week before graduation. Graduating from college with a job offer already in hand! That’s hard to come by, especially back in 1983.
I went on to work with Dennis at Texas Tech University and later at Furr’s grocery stores. I became very good at what I did, mainframe systems programming because Dennis believed in me. I can remember several times that he gave me projects that I had no idea how to start, but because he believed that I could do them, I even surprised myself with how good I got. I owe a ton to Dennis and how he took a college kid under his wings and showed him what was possible.
While in Texas I met a guy who became one of my best friends. Butch Rogers was a CPA but I didn’t meet him in that capacity. We went to the same church and met in the young couples class. This was a church of around 1,800 people so the young couples class consisted of at least 30 couples. Butch started teaching the class and was an excellent teacher.
A few years later Butch started teaching the college class. Since Lubbock is a college town, with Texas Tech and Lubbock Christian both being based there, the college class averaged around 300 students. Butch encouraged me and my wife Towona to help him and his wife lead the group.
This is where I first started getting in front of groups to teach. I would have never done it if Butch hadn’t encouraged me and kept telling me that I could do it. After Butch left Texas for Ohio, I became the college minister for the group. I went from a class attender to leading a large college group in the space of 3 years.
In 1992 I decided to embark on a grand undertaking, being self-employed. I wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been for my good friend Butch Rogers. He had moved from Texas to Ohio a couple years before and started encouraging me and Towona to move to Ohio. Dennis and my job at Furr’s grocery had moved to Albuquerque New Mexico and we didn’t want to move further west. Our families were back east and by this time we had two small children who only got to see their grandparents once a year. Butch kept after me and kept pumping me up about how good I would be at owning my own business. We finally decided to move, so we sold our house and packed everything up for the move to Ohio.
I started a consulting business for small businesses on setting up computerized accounting systems. At this time PC’s were just starting to make their way into small businesses and the small business owners had no idea how to get them set up or use them. I shared office space with Butch who had started his CPA practice a couple of years before.
Butch offered my services to several of his clients who needed help. That’s how I got my first customers. A couple of those clients happened to be oil & gas operators. They were in the business of finding well locations and getting investors to come alongside them to help them be able to drill the wells. They needed software to help with the accounting. Oil & gas accounting is different in that you have to allocate the revenue and expenses for the wells among the mineral owners and the investors. They asked if I would write some software for them. At this point, I was hungry for any work and especially programming work. I agreed to write the accounting system for them.
It wasn’t too long after that other oil & gas operators started getting checks and statements that my software produced from these two clients. They started asking if they could purchase the software. Butch encouraged me to create a business out of it and SherWare, Inc. was born.
Today, SherWare has over 700 oil & gas operators around the U.S. and Canada using our accounting software.
What’s needed for success
What’s the point of this post?
The point is this…You can’t succeed without belief. Belief in your abilities, belief in yourself, belief in your resources. All great things are achieved because someone believed they could.
But here’s the best part. It doesn’t have to be YOUR belief.
Let’s face it. Sometimes we just don’t have enough belief in ourselves. That’s where others can come in. Whether it be your parents, siblings, friends, or colleagues, if someone else has belief in you, you can appropriate that belief for yourself and still succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
Jim Rohn has said that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Do you have trouble believing in yourself? Surround yourself with people who can take up your slack. Before long you’ll be believing in yourself and can help those around you when they are short on belief. There’s a bible verse from Proverbs that says,
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
There have been many times in my life that I didn’t believe. Thankfully, someone has always had my back.
Think about it for a minute. Have you ever been on a team that had a coach that inspired you to do things you didn’t think were possible and to perform at a level that you didn’t think was within your capability? How did they do it? By believing in you. That’s a big part of what being a coach is. Transferring their belief to you.
And when you can’t believe, find someone else who does. Find someone to coach you through it and to instill belief in you.
You can do it. I believe in you.