As the old cliche will have it, rules are meant to be broken or at least that’s what society has taught us. However, even the most successful of men view rules as a guiding principal to accomplishing greatness.

International business man Wilbur Colom is an eminent attorney and businessman who has used much of his resources in the support of philanthropic works. He is the founding, senior partner of the Colom Law Firm, with offices in Columbus and Jackson, Mississippi and in Atlanta, Georgia.

He’s argued before the supreme court. Owns one of the oldest and largest African-American owned book publishing houses in the world and is President of the International Housing Finance Corporation, a company that specializes in financing affordable housing in Africa.

What’s been his guiding principals for success? Colom shares an email that he sent to his sons, giving some advice that his father (Daddy Milt) shared with him.

The Rules Still Apply

Driving back from the game today, I told Walter about getting a speeding ticket a few weeks ago and having to pay several hundred dollars.  He told me about his long history of getting tickets and using his friendships with lawyers, judges and highway patrolmen to get tickets fixed.  He wondered why I did not get it fixed since, between Judge Colom and I, we had so much influence.

I told him about a talk that Daddy Milt gave me back when I was in my 30s.  I had argued before the Supreme Court, worked for Ronald Reagan, had the personal numbers for both Mississippi United States Senators, knew Vice President Bush and had a law practice that was blooming.

Daddy sat me down and said that I had lots of contacts and influence for a person so young; that I had to be careful how I used that influence and power. Then he gave me this advice: never forget that the rules apply to you.

I’m sure Daddy did not mean rules about fixing ticket (I know he got a bunch fixed).  And really I don’t think fixing a ticket is all that important.  However, I don’t fix tickets now because I use that as a reminder that all the rules, everyone of them, apply to me. If it’s a little rule you are applying to yourself, then you know that the big ones apply.  It keeps your head straight.

You guys are gaining enormous influence and power.  I want to pass to you the advice your grandfather gave to me: all the rules apply to you.  And from me: pick out a little rule that it seems harmless to avoid and apply it to yourself as a reminder that all the rules apply to you.

But you can’t be perfect.  When you miss the mark, just keep trying.


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