Art Williams was a high school football coach when he started selling insurance to make ends meet. He was convinced by someone years ago that buying term insurance and investing the savings that was the difference in the cost of whole life was a great concept. Since Art was an old football coach he knew a lot of people and he was excited to share this concept. Art almost quit the business a hundred different times because all he was hearing was the no’s. When he was at his lowest point a revelation came to him. It was a concept that made a lot of sense and it was only nine little words.
I don’t remember if it was the convention in Chicago, Detroit, or Dallas. I went to three of them in my time with the company. Art saved his speech for last in his effort to send his sales force away motivated. From his humble beginnings Art started a company called A.L. Williams. His company would be based on the original concept that got Art into the business “buy term and invest the difference.” By the time I got into the company Art’s company had been going strong for a few years! Art hired people like myself who already had jobs. He figured that people could use an extra income and his company could provide that. Art ran his company the same way he ran his football team. He was a motivator who often used football terminology to fire up the troops. The dress code at these meetings was jeans and a T-Shirt. The T-Shirts were different colors with writing on the front signifying whose team we were on. In other words he made the business fun and exciting! It was a refreshing change to the corporate way and the three piece suit look.
Usually recruits came on board after they found out how bad their insurance was and wanted to join the crusade. The crusade was one where someone found out how much money they were saving and wanted to tell their friends! From that it was explained that they could help their friends save money and make a little money themselves too! Traditional insurance companies hated A.L. Williams. They had sold people policies that made the company a lot of money only to have an A.L. Williams representative have it cancelled. They started rumors about how A.L. Williams was a bunch of amateurs who didn’t know anything about insurance. They wouldn’t acknowledge that Williams representatives had to take the same insurance test to get licensed that their representatives took. The real issue was that A.L. Williams was taking money out of their salesman’s commission and giving plenty back to their former policyholders. For the most part people were so happy to hear about all of the savings they could have from money they were already spending that A.L. Williams kept growing!
Of course as in any kind of sales there are always the “no’s”. Art explained it best as he took us down the road of his frustrating time. Although Art had seen some success all he could focus on was the no answers. He worked hard to show these people how they could save money and start saving for their future. He showed them how compounded interest worked and with that money invested at a certain percentage they could have so much money at retirement. He got involved with helping these people (after all they were his friends.) After all of his work all he was hearing was “NO”. In one of the meetings he told us a philosophy he came up with as he was driving home from a “NO” one night. “You know”, he thought to himself, “that program that they have is just about the worst one I have seen. But you know what? It is just right for them!” It was a building block of a moment for Art and helped him to deal with adversity while moving forward.
We as Christians often times have a peculiar habit. We give something to God but then take it back. Often we don’t follow the guiding verse of “Cast all of your cares on him for he cares for you”. We worry ourselves sick with things we have no control over. We’ve all heard of how bad stress is to our bodies. How it affects our blood pressure and our eating and sleeping habits. Yet so often we proceed to give ourselves “self induced stress”. Worrying is the exact opposite of the peace that Jesus talks about. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of our head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” Matthew 10:29-31. What he is telling us is that God is in control and God loves us! Romans 8:28 tells us that “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose”. What can be more comforting than that when we are tempted to worry?
As a Christian Art knew that he wasn’t supposed to worry. Yet here he was almost quitting a business because he was so frustrated with some people. He was thinking about how much he could help them and how stubborn they were. He was thinking about how much better their financial future would be if only they said yes. So we’re sitting on the edge of our seats as he is laying out the situation and the nine little words. “Nine little words” he said again, as he built the suspense up some more. “I discovered in nine little words the secret to all of my troubles with this situation that was killing me”. Art was a master of suspense and he had us literally wondering when he would give us the big secret to his success! When would he take us out of the darkness and into the light of this great discovery he had made? “Einstein had never said anything as profound as I’m about to tell you”, he went on.
Then, when he got us to a point where we felt like we were in a dry, hot desert in desperate need of a drink the water came. At first his words seemed so stupid and simple that we just shook our heads. Yet, the more we thought about it the more genius it was! “All you can do is all you can do”, he stated in an excited voice! “All you can do is all you can do”, he reaffirmed. Now what does it mean? “When you do all you can do you can’t do any more, you’ve done all you can do”. It seemed to me to be a circle he was talking in now. But within that circle I saw a genius of a statement that I couldn’t deny!
All you can do is all you can do!
I have a friend whose father has a saying he uses when he addresses someone who is worrying out of control. “You are making a down payment on a nervous breakdown”, he states. This particular friend has a son who is starting college. It is a concern that he may be persuaded by the wrong crowd and make mistakes because of it. I think back to Art’s famous words and how it can relate to this situation. You have been very good at raising him and letting him know right from wrong. You have taken him to church and showed him the way to eternal life. You have done all you can do so that is all you can do! Like the saying goes “When you’ve done your best, God will do the rest.” Art finished his talk with an added statement. “All you can do is all you can do”, he stated again, but then he put it all in perspective. “But all you can do is enough”, he concluded. I sit here reliving that simple statement that fired up the troops, but more importantly is a peaceful thought in the midst of the chaos. Once we do all we can do it is out of our hands. The rest is in God’s hands where it has always been anyway. Somehow when we look at it that way a peace comes over the whole situation!