Recently I came across an article about Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. It was a very interesting read and I found some things I never knew.
After doing a little further digging about Wal-Mart I found an article quoting George Will, who had this to say about the company:
“[They] are the most prodigious job-creator in the history of the private sector. It has almost as many employees (1.3 million) as the U.S. military has uniformed personnel. A McKinsey company study concluded that Wal-Mart accounted for 13 percent of the nation’s productivity gains in the second half of the 1990s, which probably made Wal-Mart about as important as the Federal Reserve in holding down inflation.
Wal-Mart and its effects save shoppers more than $200 billion a year, dwarfing such government programs as food stamps ($28.6 billion) and the earned-income tax credit ($34.6 billion). People who buy their groceries from Wal-Mart save at least 17 percent.”
Wal-Mart is a huge and powerful corporation that was built from the ground up.
Sam Walton Had It All
Sam Walton got his start in the retail business by operating a Ben Franklin variety retail store. With a $20,000 loan from his Father-in-Law and $5,000 of his own savings, Walton started the store and used concepts that no one was employing at the time, which made him wildly successful.
He constantly kept the shelves stocked with low-priced goods, stayed open later hours especially around the holidays and would buy in large volumes so he could get discounts on his cost of goods, which tranlsated to lower prices for his customers.
The first Wal-Mart was opened in 1962 and Walton went on to become one of the most well-known entrepreneurs of our modern age.
He was always battling for one of the top spots on the Forbes Rich List (He was the richest man in the United States from 1982-1988).
By the world’s standards, this man had it all!
He started the largest-retail chain in America from the ground up. He was rich. He wanted to help people by creating stores that served the lower-income population. He could buy anything in the world any time he wanted and yet there was something missing.
Sam Walton’s Biggest Regret
Sam Walton, on his death bed, admitted something very frightening that should send shivers down our spines. He admitted that he had blown it.
What exactly had he blown?
Was it not taking advantage of opening more stores? Or maybe he could’ve made even more money had he tried some different tactics? Maybe there was a big scandal that he kept secret for years.
No, it wasn’t any of those things. Instead, Walton was referring to the fact that he blew it with his family!
Walton – one of the richest men in America – admitted that he barely knew his youngest son and that he even neglected his grandchildren. His wife stayed with him out of commitment. He admitted he spent way too much time investing into his business rather than spending time with those who mattered most – his own family!
Can you imagine?
An American tycoon, a business genius – admitting that he wasted his life! Perhaps he should’ve detached himself from his money.
Instead, he wasted precious moments that could’ve been spent with his wife and children. He wasted opportunities to build memories and leave a legacy worth far more than his multi-billion dollar empire!
And for what? Money, conquest, success?
Walton realized, as he approached those final days, none of that mattered now. None of it was as important as his family.
What This Means For Us
You may not create a business empire, but you will have plenty of opportunity to sacrifice time with your families to pursue wealth, build a business, starting a blog (make money from a blog), improve your golf game, work on your hobbies, climb the corporate ladder or whatever else it is that ends up draining time away from your family.
Are any of those things wrong in and of themselves? NO!
Was Sam Walton’s business and his empire wrong in and of itself? No.
What was wrong with Walton, sadly, is that he didn’t realize until it was too late that the quality of your close relationships is what matters most.
As Christians we know that the quality of our relationships, pursuing our passions by using the gifts God has given to us, and living out the mission He has for us are the most important things in life!
So, I have to ask you – just like I ask myself:
- Do you think money is the answer to all your problems?
- Are you spending too much time at the office?
- Are you wasting your life?
- Do you wish the quality and quantity time with your wife, your kids and your loved ones was better?
- If so, why? What is more important to you than the time with your family?
Don’t wait til you are on your deathbed to realize what Sam Walton realized!
Make your life count today and leave a legacy that is worth more than any trust fund you’ll leave your children!
What Are Your Thoughts?
Matt Jabs says
Sometimes I start to lose perspective because others are more “successful” than I because they have a higher position and/or make more money. Then I read articles like this, and the spirit of the article bears witness with my spirit that the things that really matter are my relationships with God and family. Thanks for the reminder Jason. Godspeed.
Awesome article Jason! What an important lesson to learn as soon as possible. I really like the way you set up the article with all of those great statistics and figures and how ingenious Sam was and then BAM! a slap in the face reminder to keep what is truly important in life closest to you. Well done.
Thanks for a great article! I would like to use it for a devotion at work. Can you give me the name/location of the article(s) you read which cited Sam Walton’s regrets at the end of his life? I would like to be able to verify this to anyone who questioned it.
Thanks again for a meaningful article as well as the consistent wisdom in your blog!
Adventure-Some Matthew says
From a business standpoint, I knew how Wal-Mart came into being. However, I don’t know anything about the man himself. Thank you so much for sharing, especially this powerful reminder of the important things in life!
[email protected] says
I thought I had heard at one time that Sam Walton was a Christian and that one of the primary missions and motivations of the business was to help the masses by providing lower priced items for their basic needs so they would live a better life. In doing so he became wildly successful in business. In your research did you come across anything to that effect?
At first I thought this post was going to be about a money or business lesson that we could apply to our lives.
After reading through it, I’m reminded that as much as we accumulate in life, we can’t take it with us. Like Matt, I frequently get caught up seeing how successful others are.
But reading this reminds me that good memories with those you care about are what matters more. Making lots of money while neglecting friends and family is ultimately a failure.
Khaleef @ KNS Financial says
Great article, Jason! Sometimes I find myself looking at another’s success and wishing I had what they had. It is stories like this one that help me to keep a proper prospective on success, wealth and possessions!
I need to focus on being content with what God has blessed me with and using what I have to honor Him!
Thanks for the reminder!
Joseph Taylor says
Sam Walton is a Christian he believes in God and uses him to start a his business. Open the door for him is to be blessed and staying staying God’s word in the name of Jesus Christ we pray amen.
Nice article. In thinking about Walton’s situation, I see that he was devoted to being a successful businessman. Nothing wrong with that. I am sure his family was very well provided for.
We can sometimes get into a conflict with our values. What if Walton thought to be successful, he would have to sacrifice time with his family? Or what if he thought that subconsciously? Maybe to learn from his life, we can ask ourselves, “How can I be wildly successful at what I do career/financial wise, AND spend loads of time with my family and friends?”
[email protected] says
Very good observation Kristine. I have often thought that it would be difficult to be the spouse of any one of the primary Bible people. Sometimes I guess that is where the permanent vs the temporary comes into play. We all have to #1 make sure we are doing what the Lord would have us do.
Despite enormous financial and business success, he failed his family. Poignant words we should heed to ensure we have the right balance in life.
Being from Arkansas I am all to familiar with Sam Walton. All of his success never did go to his head. He always drove a pick up truck.
However, I have to admit that I had not heard that quote about his family, and that is interesting. Even today, I have acquaintances working at Walmart and they work a lot of long hours. Its no doubt Sam himself did while building his empire.
Just goes to show you that you have to focus on your priorities.
Duke Dillard says
I recommend everyone reads the book before jumping too much on the Walmart bandwagon. Yes, Sam did a good thing but since he died, Walmart has taken a turn that is not so pretty. Yes, they do some good things still, but they also bring about some very bad effects. A new store creates however many (something like 400? I forget specifics) new jobs, but after 5 years only something like 50 of those jobs are actually true new jobs. The rest are from all the businesses that had to close down when Walmart came to town along with how many people lost jobs that went to China because Walmart demanded it. Just some things to think about. The book is worth reading. Yes, the point of the article is good, but some of the points made by Mr Will et al are not so accurate when seen in the big picture.
“$20,000 loan from his Father-in-Law” he had a good resource to start with!
As the bible says : too much much you will not need God, too little you may not believe him
something to that effect
Sam just needed a balance
I totally agree with Mr. Dillard. Even if Sam Walton’s story is so sad, let’s not focus on the bad side. People can still “make money” without losing their family in the process. I know times are hard that we have to work extra hours, but we can still spend time with the family right? Common people can really do that. They still have time to go to the beach or even take a stroll to the park. Still, it’s so nice of you to post this article a nice reminder that putting money on top of your list can have its drawbacks.
David Newby says
Great article! I’m guilty…definitely will try to balance things out a little more as a result of reading Walton’s story. Thanks
Bernadette Smith says
This is truly a great and inspiring article! If you read [email protected] comment, you will see that this is what Sam Walton was about. The Lord tells me that was his spiritual purpose for creating the business. However, to achieve what he accomplished takes alot of sacrifice and unfortunately he lost balance with it. I believe that we should not underestimate the power of confession! Sam Walton may not have spent the quantity of time that he desired to spend with his family, but his confession and humbling experience was irreplacable. I believe that it was a request to be forgiven and the negative account should be charged to his head not his heart. It is apparent that the power of his confession brought healing to his family as both of his boys are in the business and fairing well. If there was resentment for their dad not being there during those most crucial years, the last days and moments with their dad are what matters most. The Lord was rewarding him with that time of healing because God can not repent of his word…in as much as you know your labor is not in vain! We also must realize that even in his death Sam Walton is still giving because the legacy lives on! Thank God for his gift to his family, the world, his charity, his corporation-The consideration for our struggle and most importantly the Love! Thanks Mr. Walton Rest in God!
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
Ye have lived have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter….
Book of James Chapter 5 v 1-8
Wow! Great Article! I look at other successful personalities for motivation. This is one such post. Thank you so much.