Bob Tamasy: When "Want To" Becomes "Have To!"

Thursday, September 12, 2013 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Have you ever wanted to do something – perhaps take lessons on a musical instrument, try a new hobby, travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to see? How about making a major life change, such as leaving a job where you feel stuck, going back to get a college degree, or starting a new career?

Most of us have, probably more than once. Unfortunately, our “want to” wasn’t strong enough to turn into “have to” that would propel us into action. We spend our time wishing things were different, but not doing much about it.

That’s why I’m so excited about the new book my friend, Gary Highfield, has written. In fact, When ‘Want To’ Becomes ‘Have To!’ is a book that you – and someone you know – need to read.

Enduring a very difficult childhood, encountering nearly every form of adversity a young person could face, Gary had lots of “want to.” Many times he imagined the circumstances of his life being different. I won’t give the details – that would spoil your enjoyment of his amazing story. But one day his “want to” turned into “have to.” Gary realized there was no point in waiting for someone to change his situation and provide the better life he desired for his family. He had to take steps to initiate the changes.

Not that he wasn’t already trying. Gary had a dead-end, hourly wage job doing manual labor. He also worked odd jobs to earn a few extra dollars. But he still couldn’t afford to occasionally take his family of five to an inexpensive restaurant. What he needed was not to work harder or longer, but to work smarter – and develop talents and abilities God had given him.

Three apparent setbacks turned into proverbial blessings in disguise, escalating Gary’s quest for a better life: being turned down for food stamps; being refused a $1 an hour raise at work; and being terminated from his first sales job – ironically, because he did it too well. Refusing to accept failure as a final verdict, Gary ratcheted up his determination, practically begging for a probationary sales job with a cellular phone company in the industry’s early years.

Applying principles and strategies he’d learned by reading motivational, inspirational and self-help books, listening to tapes, receiving timely, providential help from friends and strangers, and pushing himself outside his own comfort zone, Gary became his company’s top salesman. Throughout his life, people had told him, “You can’t do that,” but he ignored them. As Gary says today, “Impossible is only possible if you quit.”

Writing a book is one of his “impossibilities.” He and I met more than a year ago through a mutual friend. Gary had compiled a very rough draft for a book, telling his story and sharing many of the insights he’d gained through years of struggle, resolve and finally, success. But he recognized he wasn’t a writer. That’s where I came in. Over the next 12 months I served as his editor, helping shape and refine his content into a book we both believe can make a profound difference in many people’s lives.

When you read When ‘Want To’ Becomes ‘Have To!’ you’ll discover Gary’s moving, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes funny account of grit, gumption, guile and most of all, God’s grace.

As we worked together on the book, several Bible passages came to mind. “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat,” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 declares. (This verse, curiously enough, was adapted into the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx.) Gary was more than willing to work, and work hard. He just needed to learn how to work better.

Proverbs 21:5 states, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Gary didn’t become an overnight success, not by any imaginative stretch. He set goals, met with people to learn from them, embraced a vision and pursued it. He planned his work and worked his plan, lifting his family from the shadow of poverty.

His unique life and career journey could be summarized by Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” He did what he believed was right, even when he wasn’t sure of the outcome. Sometimes his wife, Kimberly, wondered about what he was doing. But keeping one eye on God and one eye on the plow, so to speak, Gary was able to achieve the fulfilling life of his dreams.

So I highly recommend this book, not because I had anything to do with it, but because it’s a book whose time has come. In an age of so-called “entitlements,” and justified hand-wringing over how to help people in need, Gary’s authored a book that’s both personal and practical, filled with principles and truths worthwhile for people in all circumstances. As the subtitle suggests, it’s a guide for “breaking the chains that are holding you back.”


Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs,, and He can be emailed at

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