First published in gemMAN magazine, October 2013…
After serving in two World Wars, a certain soldier retired from the United States Navy to live in peace with his family. Since he had a degree, he was able to secure a job with an engineering company, supervising the construction of tract homes in San Francisco. It was a good job, the earnings took care of his family’s needs and he still had enough to save for the rainy day. For someone who had gone through the rigours of a devastating war, this was something good to fall back on. What more can someone in this situation ask for?
However, things hardly turn out the way we plan. In his case, it wasn’t any different. Six years after his retirement, a business mogul approached him – this was in 1954. The business man was looking for an engineer to help with an aspect of his construction project. The engineer accepted and at the end of the day, the businessman handed over the entire construction to him. It turned out to be a fantastic decision because a year later, the project resulted in one of the most breathtaking sites in the United States, and the world at large.
That retired soldier cum engineer was Admiral Joe Fowler; the business mogul was Walt Disney and the project is what we know today to be Disneyland. After construction, Joe was made a manager and he held the position for the first 10 years.
After this, Disney wanted something grander. Once again, he approached Joe – old Joe as he was already 73. Once again, Joe said “Yes, can do.” Four years later, Disney World became operational; till date, it is still a highly rated tourist/vacation spot.
Why didn’t Joe say he was tired, that the ordeals of two World Wars and an additional Korean war had worn him out? Why didn’t he say that the Disneyland project was more than he could handle – that he was content building houses? When he was 73, why didn’t he tell Disney that he was too old to oversee the design and construction of Disney World? He didn’t, Joe simply said “Can do.” This earned him the nickname ‘can-do Joe’.
I’ll mention three lessons from this: the first one is that whatever you’re going through now or wherever you are is in preparation for something in future. Joe was building gunboats as a junior officer, he graduated to building ships and when he retired, he was trusted with overseeing the construction of Disneyland and Disney World. If he didn’t go through the first stages, even undergoing the pressures of war, how would he have been able to cope?
Second, as long as Joe was alive, he felt he still had something to offer. As long as we’re human, death should be seen as the only limitation to whatever we want to achieve. We all have something to live for. Even death gets postponed so some people can live out their purpose. When there’s life, there’s hope – and something to offer. Barring engine or other mechanical issues, car will run so long there’s fuel in it. Examine the exploits of Moses do at age 80, Caleb at 85 and you’ll realize that every living person has something to offer.
Third, whenever Joe was confronted with something, no matter how big, he said “Yes, can do”. This should be our attitude; never write yourself off or believe you can’t do something. Limitations reside in your mind alone and you’re your only obstacle. God doesn’t have limits, we His children shouldn’t – but we think we do and this is a lie of the devil.
You can do it, ignore every voice telling you to quit or take it easy. Imbibe the can-do attitude today.