Disproportionate Success

by Morris Ruddick on June 11, 2016


© Morris E. Ruddick


Chives4634For the majority, success seems correlated to wealth. Yet, from the stance of those the world considers the people of business, wealth is simply the by-product. It is not only a different way of thinking, but a different strategy.

We’ve looked closely at the way the Jewish people think. As we begin to glean the strategy, we find ourselves unfolding a dimension of creativity that breaks the mold with solutions previously hidden. It is called innovation. Innovation is discovery. It is birthing something new.

It is written that the secret things belong to the Lord, but those that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever. This statement speaks of an inheritance of revelation, things previously unseen being unveiled from one generation to another.

So, if creativity is established as a way of thinking, then innovation, the discovery of things unseen becomes the strategy to build and bring increase. While it may involve individual achievement, the framework for this revelation is the culture. It is released when the criterion comprising “the ways of the Lord” are adhered to as a people. It is the closure of the gap between the unseen world and the seen world.

Disproportionate Achievement
Despite Jews being less than a quarter of one percent of the world’s population, their accomplishments have not only far exceeded what statisticians would term chance expectations, but Jewish achievements represent a pattern which fulfills the destiny God outlined to Abraham’s descendants.

That destiny notes that through them all the families of the earth would be blessed. It represents the spiritual DNA of the House of Israel.

While I believe a good bit of the unverified Jewish facts that periodically pass by on the Internet are true, Steven Pease, a non-Jew has authored a masterful piece of research titled: “The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement.”

While his scope covers the history of the Jews, the main focus of his effort is roughly the last 200 years, a time beginning with what he describes as the Jewish emancipation. This has been a time when the contributions of Jews have been far, far beyond the ordinary. He notes the amazing number of Nobel Prize winners, those distinguished on the many “greatest 100” lists of historical notables, as well as the ratios in elite universities as both students and professors.

Even more significant are the advancements, the discoveries, the products that have served humanity and civilization that have evolved from the work of Jews. It is nothing short of overwhelming.

The Issue of Ambition
In our discussion of Jewish business secrets, such ratios beg the question of ambition. Can such accomplishments be simply the result of brilliance combined with ambition? Perhaps the more appropriate question is how this ambition is directed. Once again, the conclusion is that it is a result of Jewish cultural DNA. It is the cultural DNA of the descendents of Abraham, shaped by the very reason that it was written that God chose Abraham. It was because Abraham would instruct his children and his household after him to keep the ways of the Lord.

Ambition is an important question to address when considering such disproportionate success. Indeed the issue of ambition is there, but for what purpose? From the Jewish perspective, it is a purpose greater than the individual. It is for the community, for the posterity of the Jewish people and because the heritage of the descendents of Abraham is one that has been groomed to serve, to be taking the blessings extended by God and to bless those in their wake.

More than one of the leaders of this first century Jewish sect addressed the issue of misplaced, self-serving ambition. The wrong type of ambition clouds the innovation it should have been serving. In clouding the innovation, it short-circuits the process and the success ratios. The design is to serve the community and posterity, along with bringing blessing to those outside the community.

The Enduring Mantle
The psalmist captures a number of key dimensions on the importance of posterity and community to these people. It is the catalyst passed down which builds from one generation to another. It is the mantle that endures.

It is written that even in darkness, light shines for the gracious, compassionate and righteous. All goes well for the one who is generous, who lends freely and conducts their business fairly. The righteous deeds of such people will long be remembered. This particular passage concludes by noting that while the wicked may seek to undermine people who truly live their lives in this way, the intentions of the wicked will eventually come to naught.

It suggests that success will follow the one whose ambitions are generous, honorable and serve the needy and the community. Although the path will evoke the ire of those whose ways fall short of this standard, the outcome will be that when good prevails, it will overcome evil.

Jesus indicated that we would know people by their fruits. Jesus’ Jewish way of viewing things had strong words for those who misused their positions or power for personal gain, whose religious leanings disparaged others to their own benefit. Likewise, one of the most revealing passages unveiling God’s heart by the prophet Isaiah similarly takes a hard stand against the hypocritical, who point the finger in scorn.

Trickle-Down Blessings and Dominion
So, as these “secrets” of Jewish business are applied within the context of community, sparks, igniters are released. Those sparks relate to the reason God placed man on the earth in the first place. The reason was to advance, manage and build His creation. It is written that God made man to have dominion, to rule over the work of His hands. From the beginning, the process has involved stewardship. This stewardship, when operating in cooperation with God, comes with unusual authority. This is the authority to establish God’s rule. It is called dominion. However dominion only operates when God’s people are walking the walk.

In the wintry month of January in 2007, I conducted one of my programs in a remote city in Russia. The congregation had been together less than a dozen years, yet had over 1000 members. Upon my arrival, the setting for our entrepreneurial program had only weeks prior been purchased and occupied. It was one of the ten most important historical sites in all of Russia. It was a palace that had been formerly owned by Lenin. Their far-sighted leaders were turning this facility into a community center!

Within many major cities in the US you will find Jewish community centers. In most cases it is the result of someone in the community who has done well, succeeded, and then has given back.

This concept of “giving back” is a very insightful glimpse into the heart of Jewish culture and our focus on Jewish business secrets. It is the acknowledgement of the heritage shared by the Jewish people as descendents of Abraham for the mantle and community dynamic preserved and made available to the one “giving back.”

For many years I belonged to the Jewish community center in my city. It was a place to exercise, to take my granddaughter swimming. It was a safe place to bring your family, to work out, to relax and meet others and to hold meetings. Services were held there.

In “giving back,” the chief benefactor of the Jewish community center I was a part of wasn’t giving to an institution or a movement. He was giving to the community. This is tz’dakah, the community dynamic of generosity in operation. It represents an investment in the community and the posterity of the Jewish people.

Without the swimming facilities, this is what this facility in Russia was becoming: a community center. Yet, knowing what the spiritual climate has been in Russia, you have to question how this purchase was ever approved. The story I was told was that the government had chosen to sell the facility. However, when the application came from a group of believers, there was initial consternation. Finally, a senior official provided the wisdom that led to the sale: “Give these people whatever they want because they are doing so much good.”

It is written that through your good works that you will put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. This congregation had a drug-rehabilitation program that was taking people off the streets and into a path of leading productive lives. They fed the poor. They worked with prisoners so when released the prisoners became productive members of the community. At the time I was there, they were making plans for a medical clinic.

This community had learned the Jewish secret of “trickle-down blessings,” of being blessed to be a blessing. It impacted all within the community and was changing the spiritual climate of the city.

Their role in serving the community in this way established this authority called dominion. The result was the authorities honoring this congregation’s role in the community by granting their request to purchase the facility. They were good citizens. They were blessed and were extending the blessing, the mantle of Abraham, to the community around them. They were becoming disproportionate achievers.

Jewish Business: Steps to Success
We’ve covered a lot of ground in our discussion of Jewish business secrets: including right thinking and right strategy. Create, innovate and bring increase. Wisdom tells us that we also need right timing. Now as we look more closely at this issue of disproportionate success, let’s go over some practical steps toward this end.

Make the Lord your Senior Partner. It is easier to trust what we can see than what we cannot see. Yet, making God your Senior Partner will first be a decision before it becomes operational. Before David became king, he learned to inquire of the Lord on decisions. When he erred, he knew what it meant to humble himself and yield the situation to God. It is written seek first His Kingdom and righteousness and all these other things will be added to you.

Surround yourself with wise counselors. One of the most important things a business owner can do is to select two or three wise counselors they can use as dependable advisor. These are people whose experience and maturity reflect not just a track record in the type of business they are pursuing, but an expertise in accounting and marketing. There is a proverb that in midst of right counselors will be safety.

Become excellent at something you do. It has also been written that the one who excels in his work will stand before kings. For most people, there will be something they can do well. Developing that expertise into something they can do better than a lot of others will become the edge vital to business success. Business owners should become expert in what they do and in the customers they serve.

Discipline yourself to view things from a long-term perspective. Having a view of the future is essential to anticipating change and adapting to the times. It involves setting priorities and mapping out strategies that foresee emerging opportunity. That means planning and preparation. Wisdom calls for preparing your work and improving on it and only then taking care of personal desires. It has been written that an enterprise is built step by step, little by little. If things move too fast then you’ll overlook the traps that experience will enable you to avoid.

Make decisions based on the right thing to do. A successful enterprise is built by wise planning that is honorable and honest. Customers will soon recognize the ways of those they do business with. Doing justly, extending kindness, mercy and humility are foundational to being a part of a trust society.

Learn the art of diligence. It has been written that diligence is a man’s precious possession, as it is the hand of the diligent that will rule. Working hard to provide excellence and to get the job done right is essential to business success.

Make your assets work for you. Making your assets work is at the heart of good stewardship. Those who are diligent and faithful in the small things will be entrusted with much more. This is essential to providing profit and growth for any business operation.

Assume responsibility and manage detail. Assuming responsibility and managing detail is a way of life for the successful business owner. It is written to be diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds. This is a significant part of the process of operating an enterprise.

Learn to manage risk. Business ownership will involve risk. Managing risk will require the faith needed to do so. Wisdom and faith, together with risk is what is needed to bring increase to a business.

Strive for trustworthiness and dependability. At the heart of a trust society are business people whose word can be trusted, who will stand behind what they say. The psalmist has written that there is one who walks with integrity and works righteousness and speaks truth in his own heart. This is the one who swears to his own hurt and does not change. This is the one people want to do business with.

Treat your customers like family. Treating customers like family will yield long-term, faithful clients. Proverbs states that a good name is to be chosen over great riches, loving favor than silver and gold. By humility and fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.

Be alert for opportunities for ownership. Private ownership for the average person has been foundational to forming a middle class in a society. The principles of private ownership were outlined in the books of Moses.

Extend Tz’dakah Charity. Give and it will be given unto you. So it has been said just as you want people to treat you, treat them in this same way. Generosity within the community is an investment that will yield returns now and in the future.

Become a community-builder. It is written that unto him that much is given, much is required and to whom men have committed much, of them they will ask even more. The community is the base of operations for the business. It yields both protection and opportunity. We will discuss community responsibility in more detail in the next session.

The proverb that describes the excellent woman notes that she considers a field and she buys it. Then she makes that asset work by taking the risk of planting a vineyard that will bring her family increase. She is shrewd in her trading so that she makes a profit. She doesn’t wrap up her day until all her work is complete.

Disproportionate success includes hard work and wisdom. It involves this different way of thinking that employs vision, imagination and strategy. Creative thinking fosters innovative strategies. In all this will be an eye on the community and an eye on posterity.

Over time, with wise counsel, this process will mature. There will come a recognition of the changes in seasons. Anticipating change will be vital to recognizing and maximizing opportunity. Timing as such can pave the way for the future. It is why bottom-up birthed organizations tend to endure longer than fast-track operations.

Success can be a two-edged sword. Success seduced Saul and even King David. While it broke Saul, David knew what to do. He humbled himself and yielded his future to the One who had made him king. It brought recovery and set the stage for a new season.

Success begins and ends with the thinking, the creative advantage. However, the edge of success will be in the strategy, the innovation, the bridging of the seen world into the unseen world that opens the door to the process of discovery that produces disproportionate success. In our next session, we will discuss the function and role of building community and a simple strategy used by Jews for centuries to achieve success.

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