Have you ever thought about the many things that successful people and failures have in common? Well, there are many. They both have 24 hours in each day. They both have two parents. They both put their pants and dresses on the same way. You could continue to build on this list until it was a mile long.

However, there are also many different or contrasting things that successful people and those who fail in life have about them. Successful people, as well as failures, come in all sizes and shapes. They come from different backgrounds. They have different interests, different values, different likes and dislikes. But I believe there is one basic difference that separates these two groups of people. It could be stated in many different ways, but it is simply this -- how they play the game.

Recently, I found something in my files that I had stuck back and forgotten titled, “You, Not Your Ancestors” that explains it pretty well. At least it did for me, and I hope it will for you, too. It begins, “You are neither a born winner, nor a born loser. The way you play the game determines that. It’s your general behavior, not your genealogy, that adds up the points. It’s not the blue blood your parents gave you, but the briny sweat you give that runs up the score. It’s not who your forefathers were, but what you are that makes the difference. This generation won’t let you hang on to your ancestors’ coattails. Neither will it deny you a coat, because they didn’t have one. Rather, you will have to earn it.”

Now, I realize you did not ask for it, but here is my personal opinion. I believe one of the greatest needs we have in America today is for more people to accept responsibility for themselves. We have far too many people who feel the government, their parents, or someone else should be responsible for them. I heard a humorous speaker tell this story a while back. He said, “When a lot of people are born and their umbilical cord is cut, they spend the next 50 years looking for some place to plug it back in.” Sad, but true!

Now, with your permission and hopefully your blessing, I would like to elaborate on these thoughts because I think this is so important to the future of our nation. Certainly, when it comes to how our citizens play the game, there are several million people who are born with two strikes against them – those who are handicapped either mentally or physically -- and they cannot take care of and provide for themselves. We must help these people because this is both the Godly thing to do and also the humanitarian thing to do.

But there are millions of others who are healthy, both mentally and physically, who have an entitlement mentality when it comes to meeting their needs. For some reason they are content to let others provide for them, in fact they think they deserve it. Here is what a lot of people who have this outlook fail to understand. When our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence back in 1776, it was not the “Declaration of Dependence”, it was “Independence.” This says to me that we should be “independent” and not “dependent.”

For all of my life I have been fiercely independent and have said many times, “Give me opportunity and then get out of my way.” My message here is simple, and I realize some people will not like it, if you are a “free-loader” get a job and take care of your own needs and not depend on someone else to take care of you. For each of us, here is the real question: How do we play the game?