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Leave a Legacy

RSS By: Kevin Spafford, Legacy Project

Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project.  He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.

Perseverance and Self Reliance

May 17, 2011

Rockefeller 1885From Legacy Moment eNewsletter (05/13/2011)
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John D. Rockefeller. Nearly 75 years after his death, the name still generates images—both positive and negative. Most people recognize him as an icon of wealth from days gone by. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil; he was instrumental in creating an industry, developing the oil infrastructure and improving living conditions.

From Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., by Ron Chernow, we learn that “Rockefeller prevailed at Standard Oil because he had mastered a method for solving problems that carried him far beyond his native endowment [ability]. He believed there was a time to think and then a time to act. He brooded over problems and quietly matured plans over extended periods. Once he had made up his mind, however, he was no longer troubled by doubts and pursued his vision with undeviating faith.
"Unfortunately, once in that state of mind, he was all but deaf to criticism. He was like a projectile that, once launched, could never be stopped, never recalled, never diverted.”
At 38 years old, this hardworking visionary controlled nearly 90% of the oil refined in the U.S. According to his biographer, Rockefeller was…
FEARLESS: “Always inner-directed and indifferent to the approval of others, he was therefore free of a certain boyish vanity.”
GOAL ORIENTED: “With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that there was something extraordinary about the way this stolid boy pinpointed goals and doggedly pursued them without any trace of childish impulsiveness.”
“Despite his slow, ponderous style, once he had thoroughly mulled over his plan of action, he had the power of quick decision.”
“John D. Rockefeller drew strength by simplifying reality and strongly believed that excessive reflection upon unpleasant but unalterable events only weakened one’s resolve in the face of enemies.”
PERSEVERING: “Rockefeller was the sort of stubborn person who only grew more determined with rejection.”
STRATEGIC: “Instead of just tending to his own business, he began to conceive of the industry as a gigantic, interrelated mechanism and thought in terms of strategic alliances and long-term planning.”
“One of Rockefeller’s strengths in bargaining situations was that he figured out what he wanted and what the other party wanted and then crafted mutually advantageous terms.”
“He had a great general’s ability to focus on his goals and brush aside obstacles as petty distractions.”
SELF-RELIANT: “He adamantly opposed any government program or private charity that sapped the frontier spirit of self-reliance.”
“… he hired talented people as found, not as needed.”
A GOOD MANAGER: “Every cost in the Standard Oil universe was computed to several decimal places.”
“…he created an atmosphere of ceaseless improvement.”

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 Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
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