Devotional: Do what’s best

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”


“May He equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen!” (Heb. 13:21)

“God’s will done God’s way never lacks God’s support,” as Pastor Rick Warren would always say.

If I am doing what I am shaped to do; if I am doing work at the highest level, with love, with the intention of giving Him the glory, and that serves my brothers and sisters…I have nothing to worry about, and God’s strength will be with me and it will be successful.

It might not be success on our terms – money, possessions, power, recognition, or even results that payoff in my lifetime – but it’s something that lasts forever, is important, and I will be rewarded.

If the work I do doesn’t inspire me, doesn’t exhibit His love, doesn’t serve the people that Jesus died for, and I can’t or won’t do it to the best of my ability…I’ll need to eliminate it, and make room for activities that do fit the bill. I don’t have enough resources for mediocre, misaligned work that won’t have an eternal ROI.


Devotional: Your success is guaranteed by Him

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”


“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”  (1 Cor 2:3-5).

I love this passage.

In the Marketplace Leaders “Today God Is First” devotional, Os Hillman reminds me that sometimes, I need to withold my natural gifting to insure that God is in whatever I am doing.

That means that I shouldn’t rely completely on my God-given experiences, talents, and knowledge for the outcome of whatever I desire; over-dependence on them could make me forget that God is Lord over my outcome, and not leave enough room for Him to do His work. And I’d rather He do my work lol!

Don’t let your gifts go to waste, however. Use them to help people. Use them to give God all of the glory. Use it to build His Kingdom here on Earth as it is in heaven. But there will be a ceiling to those gifts – whether it be an impossible deadline, a task beyond your skill level, or a debilitating circumstance. At this point, do not stress, fear, or feel discouraged. Leave the remaining workload to Him, leave the outcome to Him, thank Him in advance, and let Him carry on.

God wants you to know that it is by His hand that you are successful; not by your own merit.

Don’t be greedy

Being in the restaurant franchise industry for 10 years, I’ve met the whole spectrum of food entrepreneurs – from the 1-2 unit mom-and-pop shops, to the big organizations who own and operate hundreds of stores of different concepts. 

Regardless of what you consider “success,” a glaring common denominator to achieving it lies in the avoidance of being greedy.

If your goal is to have more time with family and friends, or focusing only on what you’re passionate about doing (your “art”)…not being greedy means delegating tasks that you’re not excellent at or in love with, to very capable people who want to help you grow, and paying them well to show appreciation. It means knowing when to stop building more stores if it doesn’t align with who you are, and just focusing on delivering an incredible experience for loyal customers for your existing platform. There is always enough to do with what you’ve got.

Customer’s see immense value in what you provide, and will pay and refer others to you. Employees feel appreciated, will work together in protecting and sustaining your company, and will stay there for a long time. 

If your goal is to be a market leader with strong penetration – something my Halal Guys SoCal team and I are trying to achieve here in our home market….not being greedy means finding great partners who will bring their unique strengths to the table (I love love LOVE my partners), divide and conquer, and lighten the load so you can focus on your work, and sharing in the risks and rewards fairly. It means that we empower and handsomely compensate a great management team who will hire and train a great operations team who will deliver a great customer experience who will build a sustainable customer base – the gift that keeps on giving. It also means you can attract investors who will gladly fuel your growth to heights you’ve never imagined nor reached without, and that you’ll never have to ask for money again. 

Being greedy means that you will not allow employees to develop and feel useful – and they will leave for a company that will appreciate them, pay them well, allow them to grow, earn their commitment – causing you to continually have to replace and re-train staff. It means you will cut corners on food quality, portions, and service to save a few pennies – and lose customers who don’t feel taken care of and who don’t believe you’re worth their money. You won’t be able to focus on your craft because you’ve hogged all the duties and you’re busy putting out fires that you haven’t allowed capable teammates to learn and help with. Being greedy means screwing investors over that lead to a dry well, regret, a horrible reputation, potential lawsuits, and constantly having to look for money. 

Find out what your unique definition of success is, and jot down your list of things you can do to grow your business without greed. These two to-do’s are oversimplified, but it definitely will set you on the right path to doing amazing things. 

“Success” in YOUR dictionary – not Webster’s

Philosopher Alain de Botton said this in a past TED Talk that made me reflect:

“One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means. A lot of the time our ideas about what it would mean to live successfully are not our own. They’re sucked in from other people. And we also suck in messages from everything from the television to advertising to marketing, etcetera. These are hugely powerful forces that define what we want and how we view ourselves. What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we’re truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.”

This is so incredibly true. OMG.

Success to me used to mean that I had nice things, had money in the bank, and owned companies. They were definitions formulated by:

* All the business books I read (unnoticed brainwashing is so scary!). Nothing wrong with knowledge – and obtaining it is encouraged and necessary; but like authority, money, or most other vehicles – I used it for the wrong reasons.
* My immature/undeveloped/limited mind and ego – which is always the enemy (right, Ryan Holiday?). And
* Lack of experience. I am a stubborn person who needs to learn the hard way. And divorce, re-marriage, having kids, health issues, strained relationships, and the absence of God in my life are what it took to change things.

The last sentence in Alain’s quote above hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve been fortunate to experience my Version 1.0 of success – and have been let down. It left me disappointed, underwhelmed, and asking WTH.

So…what’s my Version 2.0 look like? What is the definition of success that truly belongs to Paul Thien Tran?

It means that I’m in great health. I get to play with my kids, run with my dog, am building muscle, am enjoying food in moderation, and I’m in the same shape or better than I was when my metabolism was doing all of the work.

It means that I am serving others in a Godly way, and changing their lives – whether through my life experiences, things I care about deeply, or pure love. The last two mean that there is no experience necessary to care about people – so there are no excuses.

It means that I spend more time reading, writing, and traveling – my absolute favorite things to do, and something I aspire to do all day.

It means that I am always inspired, curious, taking risks on scary and/or “hell yes” ideas, and growing.

It means that I know myself.

It means that God is involved in the beginning and throughout every little thing I do; that I’ve eliminated my ego, my agenda, my own power, my own limitations – and have opted into His plans, His compassion, His operating manual (the Bible), His infinite power, His love, and His unlimited capabilities.

It means that I am enabling my family to achieve all of the above for themselves.

What’s success look like to you, (insert name here?). Are you making sure that success belongs to you and no one else’s?