The only place success comes before sweat is in the dictionary.
Last week I stated that success can often be boiled down to two elements–getting started and never quitting. I gave you three strategies for getting started. For some people, that’s their biggest problem. They never get started.
Other people get started, but they don’t finish. They don’t have the staying power. Or as coach John Gagliardi, from St. John’s University at Collegeville, Minnesota, would say, “They lose because LOSE Means Lack Of Sustained Effort.”
That was the case with Fritz Kreisler for a long time. As a young boy he wanted to play the violin, and later he wanted a musical career. But it didn’t work out the way he wanted, so he quit.
Kreisler decided to study medicine. He failed miserably at that. So he quit. He joined the army but never made it beyond a low ranking private. He quit again. He continued his pattern of trying different things and quitting each one of them.
Finally Kreisler went back to his former music teacher. He was told, “What you must have is the invincible, undefeatable determination that you will never give up.” Kreisler took the advice to heart. He persevered until he finally succeeded. In fact, he became a world famous violinist who would pack Carnegie Hall to capacity and keep his audiences spellbound.
Kreisler learned, as we all must learn, that IN ALL WORTHWHILE ENDEAVOURS WE MUST BE PREPARED TO ENDURE BEFORE WE CAN PREVAIL.
There are three things you can do–indeed you must do, so you never give up. You must be willing to work hard; you must be unwilling to let up, and you must get up.
The first element of hard work is seldom popular. We all want easy wins and instant successes. That’s natural. That’s why IF YOU’RE WILLING TO WORK HARD, YOU’VE ALREADY BEAT 50% OF THE COMPETITION.
As a young boy Joe Frazier dreamed of becoming a boxer. He got an old sack and filled it with sand. That was his punching bag. And that was the beginning of his disciplined plan to reach the success he wanted. Eventually he won the gold medal for boxing at the 1964 Olympic Games.
When asked about his “secret,” he said that success depends on your road work. You must be willing to do your road work, week after week, month after month, and hurdle after hurdle. You can get anywhere you want to go if you are willing to take enough small steps.
Then, YOU MUST BE UNWILLING TO LET UP. There will be times when you do not feel like doing your road work. As I’ve said many times before, be a little wary of your feelings. They can be a useful guide in decision making, but they should never have the final say in doing what needs to be done.
The way I keep myself from giving up is to give myself an affirmation. I just repeat the following sentences over and over: “Never let up when you’re ahead; never give up when you’re behind.” Try it. It works.
Tom Dempsey was one person who refused to let up. Tom was born with only half a right foot and with a deformed right arm and hand. And even though he played football in high school and college quite successfully, he was turned down by the professional teams. They looked at his disabilities and concluded he wasn’t professional material.
Tom refused to accept their verdict. He said, “I have learned never to give up. So many times in life and in sports, I have seen things turn around because someone persevered and kept the faith.” And so he kept the faith and made it into the big leagues.u
In 1970, in a game between the Detroit Lions and the New Orleans Saints, the Saints were about to upset the Lions. With only 11 seconds left, Detroit took the lead by one point. It looked like the game was over. The Saints had 2 seconds left and were on the 45-yard line. In came Tom Dempsey to kick a field goal.
Up to that time, the longest field goal had been 56 yards. This one would be 63 yards. The goal posts were so far away that Tom didn’t even know he had made it until the official raised his arms. The Saints won because Tom Dempsey had refused to let up in life.
Finally, YOU MUST BE WILLING TO GET UP WHEN YOU FALL DOWN. You see, you’re not a failure if you fall down, but you are if you stay down.
It’s like the coach who was talking to his football team. He was talking about the kind of players he wanted to recruit. He asked them, “Men, do we want the kind of player who gets knocked down and stays down?” They all shouted, “No!”
The coach asked, “Do we want the player who gets knocked down, gets up once, gets knocked down again, and stays down?” Again the men shouted, “No!”
So the coach continued, “Do we want the player who keeps getting knocked down and keeps getting up?” The players said, “Yes!”
Of course that’s not too bad. But the coach said, “No. I want the player who keeps knocking him down.”
The same is true for you and me. We need to keep getting up, but eventually, with enough learning and practice, we won’t get knocked down quite so often.
Follow the three things I’ve outlined today, and you’ll keep on keeping on. You’ll never give up.
Action: Memorize the affirmation I gave you in today’s Tip: “Never let up when you’re ahead; never give up when you’re behind.” Repeat the affirmation at least ten times a day for the next twenty-one days. It will solidify your staying power.