If you want to talk about passion, then there’s one guy that deserves to be mentioned here, as he devoted his entire life towards his passion. This man’s name was Harland Sanders, also known as “Colonel Sanders” from KFC.
When you look at the KFC logo, you can’t help but to not take it seriously. It’s an old, smiley guy with a white beard and who he really is doesn’t really come across your mind when you’re sinking your teeth into a crispy, juicy, and delicious piece of fried chicken.
But in order for that old smiley guy to get that logo up there, it took more than 60 years of his life to do. The friendly white and red logo that you see is a person who actually was really skilled at cooking, especially when it came to chicken. Although Sanders popularity still influences us today, life was pretty tough on him growing up. This is his story.
Five years after Harland was born, his father had passed away. And because his mother had to support the family by working in a canned factory peeling tomatoes, his responsibility learn how to cook for his younger brother and sister.
The responsibility of taking care of his family and going to school was tough on him. Eventually he dropped out of school in the seventh grade. And because the family was so poor, Harland’s mom had to remarry to improve their financial condition. But the stepfather did not get along with Harland and often beat him. Harland did not want to live life depending on this relationship with his mom and his stepfather; and in one year, he ran away from home.
During his teenage years, he worked many jobs from being a steamboat pilot to a streetcar conductor. At 16 years old, he enlisted in the army and serviced in Cuba for a year. From 16 to 40 years old, he worked many other jobs, he got married Josephine King, but later they divorced.
He was tired and sick of all his failures. At 40 years old, this was his time. He decided to give value to people in doing what he did most, not from the military experience that he had, or from practicing law, but cooking chicken dishes for hungry travelers who stopped by his service station in Corbin, Kentucky.
During the ages between 40 and 49, Harland Sanders had perfected his chicken recipe so much for his customers, that the governor of Kentucky gave him the name, “Kentucky Colonel.”
Kentucky Colonel was happy with his success and his business had bloomed during these 9 years. But tragedy happened again him. Because cities were being more developed during the 1950’s, a new interstate highway was going to be built that would bypass his restaurant which cost him majority of his customers. The highway forced him to retire and sell his business.
Reduced to living on $105 a month on social security checks, he knew he needed to find a way to survive financially. What he had left was his recipe. That was it. But he decided that it was enough.
So with that, he had a goal in mind. At age 62, he decided to travel around the United States and look for somebody to business with him. He wanted to start a franchise. He spent many days sleeping in his car, knocked on doors, and even was laughed at by people for wearing his starched white shirt and white pants attire. To them, he looked ridiculous.
But Colonel Sanders didn’t give up. He had a passion and knew that one day his passion would lead him to success. By the time he visited and was rejected 1,009 times, finally he was able to persuade someone to partner with him. This man’s name was Pete Harman and together, they launched the first Kentucky Fried Chicken site in 1952.
From age 62 on, he had gone to promote his KFC franchise. His concept was “service,” “quality,” and “cleanliness”. Every time another restaurant sold one chicken, he would get a nickel.
By the time he was 74 years old, he had more than 600 franchised outlets for his chicken in the United States and Canada. Finally a breakthrough opportunity happened when he was able to sell his interested to a group of investors for $2 million dollars.
Before he died at the age of 90, Colonel Sanders had promoted his chicken empire by traveling over 250,000 miles a year. This is the story of Harland Sanders, otherwise known as “The KFC Guy.”
Some people have a dream and that is to make it rich. But if there is one thing that the story of Harland Sanders can teach us is that if one is passionate enough by what they do, whether it’s something as trivial as a chicken recipe, not only are you helping other people but it’s possible to get rich in the process.
Many people now days are looking for a get rich quick scheme, but honestly, there’s no such thing. It takes hard work, and like Sanders, it takes one’s true passion to bring out the best in people along with undying persistence to make a dream happen. Persistence can mean getting rejected over a thousand times before somebody says yes to you or it can mean waiting 74 years old before making millions dollars. But it is the will to keep moving forward when the world is telling you to stop.
So the next time you take a bite out of that Kentucky Fried Chicken, you might think of Harland Sanders – a guy who taught us that if we follow our passions and are persistent enough to spread our passion to others, then success will eventually become inevitable.