Success in life is much like a series of competitive events. We win or lose based on our effort, preparation, and the team we have around us. Shortly after I started my business, I realized I needed to develop an all-star team if I was going to win in the business world. Among others, I needed a banker, an accountant, a marketing specialist, technical people, as well as a great attorney. My father introduced me to one of his best friends, who happened to be his lawyer.
I was very fortunate that, over the next several decades, he became my lawyer as well as a great friend. Initially, I was excited to meet him because I knew that he had played on one of the greatest college football teams ever assembled. He had been a member of the legendary Oklahoma Sooners football team that had won 47 straight games. This record will likely never be equaled or even approached in the future. Knowing that he had been a part of one of the greatest teams of all time, I assumed he would have a lot of great advice on winning, losing, and defeating opponents.
Instead of advising me on becoming a fierce competitor or combatant in the business or legal arena, this gentleman advised me to avoid conflict, create win/win relationships, and resolve all conflicts amicably. He explained that we should enter into agreements that benefit all parties, create contracts that reflect a win/win spirit, and conduct ourselves in ways that would keep us free from conflict and legal entanglements.
He taught me and showed me that the best way to win an argument is to avoid it completely. If the terms of an agreement are fair and benefit everyone, and the contract is clear and concise, rarely, if ever, will you have to clean up a mess or invest time, effort, and money in a court battle.
While my attorney seemed like a kindly, mild-mannered gentleman, he could turn into a raging lion if our rights were violated or others chose not to honor their commitments. He showed me the higher road available in business that allows us to enter into agreements based on a handshake. The underlying contract simply formalizes what we’ve agreed to and serves as a reminder of the commitments we made.
As he passed his 80th birthday, he told me he would be spending less time in the office, so I might want to get another attorney. I explained that, thanks to his sage advice, I needed very little legal counsel because my business conflicts were avoided instead of won or lost. When he passed away, I lost a friend much more than a lawyer. His legacy remains in my life and in my business as I have never sued anyone, been sued, or done business with anyone I couldn’t do business with again. Great attorneys are valuable, and great friends are priceless.
As you go through your day today, build your dream team with wise and talented friends.
Today’s the day!
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stovallauthor; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor.