The headline of a full page ad in a national magazine from several years ago announced, “Before you quit, read this…”  The body of the ad went on to report:
   “The first strategy of many people who run into problems is to give up. But a man who suffered such severe burns on his legs that he faced amputation refused to quit. Not only were his legs saved, but he also became the most successful distance runner of his time. (They were referring to Glenn Cunningham.)
   “And a man with less than one year of formal education didn’t quit. He became the most revered American President ever. (They were referring to Abraham Lincoln.)
   “And a fragile boy in Scotland, bedridden most of his childhood, didn’t quit. He became such a masterful storyteller that your great-grandchildren will cherish his books as you and I have. (They were referring to Sir Walter Scott.)
   “Now if you had all three of those strikes against you, maybe nobody would blame you for quitting. But unless your legs are severely burned, and you never reached the second grade, and you’re so fragile you have to stay in bed, why don’t you turn around and get back to work? Maybe we’ll be writing about you someday!”
   This ad, a message of challenge and encouragement, may come across rather strongly, but it does help us put things in perspective. Stories of successful people everywhere, whether in sports, creative arts, politics, businesses, homes, schools, communities, nations, or whatever, are stories of people who refused to quit.
   It makes you wonder how many people have stopped just short of success. Maybe many people quit only a brief distance away from victory.
   In order for a person to be successful at anything, it often seems as if there are qualifications that he or she must fulfill. Sometimes it’s as though we’re being tested to see whether or not we really deserve the success we seek. As we run up against one problem after another, we are given the choice of quitting or of pushing on.
   Success in our endeavors is not so much a matter of talent or opportunity as it is of focus and perseverance. And perseverance is the hard work we do after we grow tired of doing the hard work we have already done!
   Every day of the week there are probably thousands of people who turn away in defeat, and who will never know the thrilling experience of accomplishment and success because they quit too soon. Who can say how close they may have come? Maybe one more year, or one more month, or one more day, or one more hour of perseverance could have made all the difference.
   Of course, some people never even get off the starting blocks because they know all the reasons why something won’t succeed. Automotive executive Charles Kettering had this in mind when he remarked on his 70th birthday, “A person must have a certain amount of ignorance to get anywhere.”

   Kettering went on to explain that too often too much information about the pitfalls of a challenging situation breeds too much caution. The more we learn about all the problems surrounding something we want to do, then the more the obstacles in front of us are magnified. People who get things done are often those who are so busy accomplishing these things that they don’t have time to focus on the barriers. Recently, a young man went to an organization and was able to get the people to show some signs of life and enthusiasm that previously had been absent.  When someone asked how the young man was able to do this in a group that had been dead for so long, somebody remarked, “He didn’t know it couldn’t be done.” 
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 2500 events, can be contacted at or 865-436-7478. His books, including his two most recent, “People of Passion” and “Are We Communicating Yet?” are available in stores, at, and on 


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