Herb Kelleher's experience is an in-depth trial of perseverance through rocky and thorny soils. In only 5 years, he created one of the most dynamic businesses in the 21st century. Herb was a lawyer by training who, for many years, had a secret passion to have his own business. It was as if he was waiting for the right opportunity.
The soil of his heart was ready because he did not skip the hard and beaten down soil. Instead, he knew that it would prepare him for something better. During his early years while completing law school, he gained some experience with the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. This prepared him for the entrepreneurial vision he would receive. After law school, he moved to Texas to open his law practice.
One night while at dinner in San Antonio, his client, Rollin King, suggested that they start an airline. The vision was planted as they sat in the airport. Neither had any experience in the industry. But for some reason, this lawyer received a vision to start an intrastate airline. They found a loophole in the law that convinced them that they could start an airline quickly. After all, it would be a commuter airline within the state. Since they weren't businessmen, they were naive enough to try it. However, they couldn't predict the rocky and thorny soil that Braniff, Continental, and Trans Texas would take them through.
These big airlines filed various lawsuits to stop them. After three and a half years in and out of the courts, they had no money left. Herb's board was ready to throw in the towel. But because of Herb's willingness to take on financial risk personally, they hung on to what many call his absolute tenacity and warrior spirit. The final chapter of this amazing business saga was written at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Herb's company, Southwest Airlines, has changed the airline industry. Based on domestic passengers, it is the largest low-cost airline in the United States. Also, it is the only airline in history that has experienced profitability in its existence. As you study the track record and culture of Southwest Airlines, you have to be amazed at their strategies.
On the New York Stock Exchange, Southwest's ticker symbol is LUV. (Love field is still their hub in Dallas but the word fits perfectly into a God plan.) When reviewing their principles, you'll notice that they are nearly word for word in tune with the Bible's definition of love. The company hires people who try to love customers and one another. They broke the mold of most companies, because they seek to love and serve their employees even before their customers.
So many big companies want to downsize their employment to increase their profitability. Oftentimes, they do this to impress their stockholders and receive good publicity. Amazingly, here's an attorney who focused on his people and loyalty to them. Did Herb's tenacity and innovation come from his pursuit of being a millionaire? No. It was the result of surviving through the rocky and thorny soils and persevering through the obstacles of his calling.