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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Rest on Your Laurels

Three old ladies are sitting around a table playing bridge and bragging about their sons.

“My Freddie,” said Margaret, “Everyone should be so lucky to have a son like my Freddie. Once a week he brings me a huge bouquet of flowers, he’s constantly bringing me out to restaurants to eat, if I so much as hint that I want something, the next morning it’s on my doorstep.”

“That’s very nice about your Freddie”, says Gertrude. “But with all due respect, when I think about the way my Sammy takes care of me, it just can’t compare. Every morning as soon as I wake up he greets me with bacon and freshly brewed coffee. Every lunch he comes over and cooks me a gourmet lunch, and every supper he brings me to his house for supper, he truly treats me like a queen.”

“WELL!” Says Barbara, “I don’t want to make any of you feel bad or anything, but wait until you hear about my Harry, twice a week he pays someone $200 an hour just so he can lie on their couch and talk to them, and who do you think he speaks about at those prices” asks Barbara with a big excited double chin smile. “I’ll tell you who he speaks about! ALL HE SPEAKS ABOUT IS ME!”

“To be defeated and not submit is victory; to be victorious and rest on one’s laurels is defeat”~ Jozef Pilsudski

Where did we get the phrase– ‘resting on your laurels’? In Ancient Greece, victorious athletes were presented with laurel wreaths to wear. They were, and still are, signs of great accomplishment. So ‘rest on your laurels’ means you get lazy or complacent about what you could achieve because you’re too busy basking in the memories of former glories.

Past success is no guarantee of future success. For example, take The Fortune 500 List (America’s largest companies); of the 500 companies that appeared on the first list in 1955, only 71 hold a place on the list today. Nearly 2,000 companies have appeared on the list since its inception, and most are long gone from it.

Just because you have become successful once guarantees nothing about your ability to endure. Some of the most powerful companies on today’s list—businesses like Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Dell, and Google—grew from zero to huge very rapidly, bumping old established companies off (some that no longer even appear on the list—Scott Paper, Zenith, Rubbermaid, Chrysler, Teledyne, and Warner Lambert).

This phrase, resting on your laurels, continues to have relevance today–regardless of any of our past success – we should always push forward looking at new ideas. And not be so self-focused and complacent basking in the memories of former glories.


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