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Some Enemies of Success

It has been my practice and spiritual discipline for several years to read a chapter of Proverbs each day that corresponds to the day of the month. That landed me in Proverbs 23 today.

It is also become a discipline to apply some of what I have read to the realm of business and incorporate these truths into my coaching. Let me briefly touch on several today that seem to fall under the category of things that impede our success. What they all seem to have in common is the avoidance of the lure of instant gratification and all of it's manifestations: gluttony, drunkenness, envy, and the like. These are enemies of success.

I am quoting some of these verses today from The Message (See copyright and link information below).

It begins with some extremely practical advice:

When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners:
Don't gobble your food,
   don't talk with your mouth full.
And don't stuff yourself;
   bridle your appetite. (1-3)

Sometimes, people attend business meals with the idea that it is all about the food and their own gratification. Not so. It is about the meeting and the person of influence you are trying to influence.  Gorge yourself later. It has been said that J.C. Penny would take potential executives to dinner and decide whether or not to hire them by whether or not they salted their food before tasting it.

He needed no impulsive associates.

Don't wear yourself out trying to get rich;
   restrain yourself!
Riches disappear in the blink of an eye;
   wealth sprouts wings
   and flies off into the wild blue yonder. (4-6)

Keep everything in perspective. pace yourself. Don't become so addicted to your moment by moment, immediate success that you lose the long term benefits of those things that endure the test of time.

Don't accept a meal from a tightwad;
   don't expect anything special.
He'll be as stingy with you as he is with himself;
   he'll say, "Eat! Drink!" but won't mean a word of it.
His miserly serving will turn your stomach
   when you realize the meal's a sham. (7-8)

Again, do not let your gluttony interfere with your judgment. Whoever said that there is no free lunch was being overly cynical. However, there are not many. people operate with some degree of self-interest. Honest people in business are open about this and seeking win-win scenarios. I operate on the principle that I want you to get something from our transaction so that we can all be happy when it is done. Again, gluttony and naiveté are enemies of success.

Don't bother talking sense to fools;
   they'll only poke fun at your words. (9)

Have you ever done business with someone who "just didn't get it?" Another enemy of success is the compulsion to teach that person by banging them over the head with truth. Forget it. Move on to your own success. Don't let addiction to being proved right interfere with your success.

Don't stealthily move back the boundary lines
   or cheat orphans out of their property,
For they have a powerful Advocate
   who will go to bat for them. (10-11)

Dishonesty, based on greed and desire for momentary advantage that leads to cheating people is what is railed against here. god will Himself step in to thwart the success of those who build it by cheating the poor. The hand of justice may not strike quickly, but it will eventually set things right.

Don't for a minute envy careless rebels;
   soak yourself in the Fear-of-God
That's where your future lies.
   Then you won't be left with an armload of nothing. (17-18)

Envy is a major enemy of success. it takes our attention away from what we need to be doing, pollutes our attitudes, and poisons our relationships. Put it away before it gets in your way in a big way.

This includes all sorts of comparisons with other people.

The genius of network marketing is that you succeed by actually cheering for people to succeed.

Oh listen, dear child—become wise;
   point your life in the right direction.
Don't drink too much wine and get drunk;
   don't eat too much food and get fat.
Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row,
   in a stupor and dressed in rags.(19-21)

In contrast with wisdom is the success enemy we call substance abuse. Include in that category all forms of alcohol, illegal drugs, excessive use of legal drugs, and addictive sexual behaviors (which produce drugs through our endocrine system). Add addiction to food, called gluttony which produces lethargy and  so many ailments and you have a cluster of enemies to success. we could go on and on about ways they rob us of vitality, resources, time, energy, motivation, and positivity

These were as much of a problem in Solomon's day as they are today  for those who indulged in them. The problem is that there seems to be a growing trend toward these forms of self-indulgence accompanied by media affirmation that we should do the things that make us feel good and that pleasure is our ultimate god.

Not only is that not spiritually true, but it is practically disastrous.

How do we avoid that enemy? Moderation is the key to avoiding addiction in some behaviors. In others, absolute abstinence may be in order because of the  power of certain substances to establish a quick and certain foothold in a person's life.

Addiction is a major enemy of success and friend of poverty today.

Consider these symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Sleeping late
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inattention
  • Irritability
  • Uncontrolled spending
  • Health problems
  • Missing appointments
  • Incarceration
  • Inability to drive safely
  • Broken relationships
  • Legal entanglements of a civil nature
  • Exposure to severe liability
  • Loss of drive
  • Preoccupation with satisfying momentary urges
  • Laziness
  • Much, much more ...

All of these are problematic in and of themselves. Together, they decimate your capacity for success.

Get some victory in this area of your life quickly if you wish to succeed. Hint: A vital, growing, committed, and healthy relationship with Jesus Christ and a local church is a beginning context for all sorts of life liberation and personal growth.

Listen with respect to the father who raised you,
   and when your mother grows old, don't neglect her.
Buy truth—don't sell it for love or money;
   buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight.
Parents rejoice when their children turn out well;
   wise children become proud parents.
So make your father happy!
   Make your mother proud!  (22-25)

A know-it-all mentality is an enemy of success. Stop listening to elders and mentors and your will stop growing. Listen. Read. Study. Attend workshops. Read the Bible as if you have never read it before. Spend whatever is necessary, literally (money) to educate yourself. you are your most valuable resources. never stop investing in yourself.


Dear child, I want your full attention;
   please do what I show you. (26)

Don't just learn truth. practice it. Another enemy of success is gathering knowledge and storing it up for the future. Put new knowledge into practice quickly. Don't hide it in your conference notebook files.

A whore is a bottomless pit;
   a loose woman can get you in deep trouble fast.
She'll take you for all you've got;
   she's worse than a pack of thieves. (27-28)

Sexual indiscretion has been the downfall of many an otherwise successful man or woman. Don 't fall for it. Compare a few minutes of pleasure with a lifetime of success, fulfillment, and significance before wandering down the path of momentary ecstasy.

Who are the people who are always crying the blues?
   Who do you know who reeks of self-pity?
Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all?
   Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot?
It's those who spend the night with a bottle,
   for whom drinking is serious business.
Don't judge wine by its label,
   or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor.
Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with—
   the splitting headache, the queasy stomach.
Do you really prefer seeing double,
   with your speech all slurred,
Reeling and seasick,
   drunk as a sailor?
"They hit me," you'll say, "but it didn't hurt;
   they beat on me, but I didn't feel a thing.
When I'm sober enough to manage it,
   bring me another drink!" (29-35)

In short, all forms of self-indulgence and drive for immediate satisfaction and  instant gratification are the enemies of your success. Conquer them and conquer the world!

All the best for your success - Tom Sims, The Dream Factory

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002  by Eugene H.  Peterson