Making the Right Connections — Crucial to Success: #Go For it!

Growing up — son among seven siblings, a hardworking local pastor who was also a high school teacher and a hardworking, loving, and devoted mom who was supervisor in our church\’s Christian school and a life-long college student — in rural Georgia, there were limited opportunities for exposure beyond the confines of rural Georgia. Most people in my situation are migrating to the cities of America where there seem to be greater chances to advance in life. However, there are those who can’t make that move on their own. But there are things that even folks in rural and other types of disadvantaged situations could do. Those things would vary from situation to situation. Our family spent a lot of time bonding as a family, developing our spirituality, seeking out a quality education, and working hard. These are all key values to success. Yet, many people would put a check by each of these same good qualities and say, “but there is something missing.” Guess what. I agree!

All of the principles that are discussed in the previous chapters of this book are absolutely integral to the process of success; however, altogether they hinge upon one other crucial element. Faith without it is dead. Vision without it is meaningless. Education without it is mute. Humility without it is invalid. Persistence without it is vain aggression. This is a two-word feature that transforms all of these ideals into virtues. The two words are “right connections.” We absolutely need the right connections to succeed. Without connections faith has nothing to work with, vision has no provision, education has no access, humility has no superior, and persistence has no directive. The journey of thwarting failure as well as the journey of insurmountable success depends heavily upon to whom we are connected or to whom we are not connected. The ultimate right connection is with God. But, God created us to be in community with people. So, don’t sing the song, “As long as I got King Jesus, I don’t need nobody else” unless you are depending on Jesus you to help you to connect with the right people. The fact is that we need other people.

I am grateful for parents who understood the need to make right connections. They sought out opportunities to expose my siblings and me beyond the confines of our limited exposure in Manchester, Georgia. For example, we loved Gospel music and played music for the church. We formed a group called the A Boys and Girls Gospel Singers. The group comprised of five of my siblings, my god-brother, Antonio, god-sister, Elaine Childs (Parks) and me. All six of the boys’ names started with the letter “A”: Antonio, Antipas, N. Andronicus, Alexander, J. Alonzo, and D. Arcelious. The sisters’ names are Naomi, Miriam, and Elaine. The A boys and Girls would sing from church to church primarily in the tri-county areas of Meriwether, Talbot, Troupe counties and in Columbus, Georgia, where Grandma Ruby lives. We wanted to record a CD and to go on national television. But, we knew that the resource connections to make that happen were less likely to be in the rural circles where we lived and ministered. We needed the right connections for that.

So, when Dr. Bobby Jones and the “Bobby Jones Gospel Explosion” from BET came to Atlanta, Georgia, mom and dad made sure that we saved up money to go. Manchester was only 1 ½ hour from Atlanta. We were so excited!

We understood that when opportunity presents itself, we need preparation to secure the connection. So, we took our VHS cassette to the show with us. Our sole goal was to work this opportunity to connect with the right person to get our tape in Dr. Bobby Jones’ hands. This would be our key connection to enter the Gospel Music Industry! So, we charmed the security and were not timid to seek out the right person to get our VHS tape to Dr. Jones. Indeed that ole saying was true for us, “When you make one step, He [God] will make two.” We connected with Dr. Jones personally. The next year, we were on the “Bobby Jones Gospel Show!” We built invaluable relationships throughout the industry that were lasting until this day. Dr. Jones remains a dear friend of our family and has even come to rural Georgia on several occasions to support our family. In 1997, the A Boys and Girls Gospel Singers became simply A Boys. Then, later we changed the name to A7. Building upon those childhood connections in the music industry elevated us to a record contract. Our song, “Don’t Walk Away” landed on Billboard Charts for 22 weeks. Many people have testified to how the song blessed them. People even reported that at the brink of suicide, “Don’t Walk Away” saved their lives. Again, the right connections are crucial to success.

Dr. Antipas L. Harris
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