Prepare to win

“You can always tell when you haven’t done enough, but you can’t ever tell when you’ve done too much.” – Charley Pell

Charley Pell was a pretty good football coach and he intrinsically knew the value of preparation. I can assure you that upon reaching a major goal you will never be able to identify the extra effort that wasn’t necessary to be successful. On the other hand, failing to reach a goal you will be flooded with tens, if not hundreds, of things you could have done that would have made a difference. Moral of the story? Give all you are capable of giving and even if you are not successful on this attempt, you’ll be extremely happy with the new growth that always occurs when you stretch yourself.


Long after the crowd had left and the cameras had moved, a lone runner entered the stadium to complete the 26-mile-long marathon in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Injured earlier in the race during a fall, he stumbled along, more than an hour after the others had finished. Hurling himself to the finish line, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania finished dead last. But before you judge him as a loser, take careful heed of the words he uttered when asked why he did not quit earlier when he had been injured:

“My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish it.”

Dream lofty dreams

“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become.” – As A Man Thinketh

The longer I live the more I realize how important it is that I always have a big dream in my life. Dreams are what cause us to bound out of bed in the morning instead of waking with anxiety or, even worse, apathy for the day ahead. When I don’t have a dream in front of me it’s easy to find fault with everything and self-pity comes easily.

There’s an easy explanation for why we’re not at our best when we don’t have a dream – we were created to dream. The Proverbs writer tells us that “without a vision the people perish.”

I’ve always liked a quote that I’ve heard attributed to both Oscar Hammerstein and Walt Disney, “If you don’t have a dream, how are you going to make a dream come true?”

So why is it so hard for some of us to dream? Or so tough to believe that our dream can come true? Perhaps for some of us it’s because we were programmed to “don’t get your hopes up.” While this was told to “protect” us, it had the opposite effect. For many years I wanted to believe in a dream (because I was created that way) but I was afraid of how I’d feel if I didn’t get my dream. I was afraid to “get my hopes up.”

So how do we start dreaming? Or how do we dream bigger? By changing our thoughts of course. Mark Victor Hansen, who says he’s read As A Man Thinketh more than 25 times, writes in his book Dare To Win, “If you know exactly what you want, you can have it…Look around you. The world is filled with abundance.”

A dream is nothing more than a thought or a series of thoughts. And James Allen tells us that “your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not long remain so if you but perceive an Ideal (a dream) and strive to reach it. You cannot travel within and stand still without.”

And that’s worth thinking about.

There is infinite wealth available to us

My friend Michael Angier, founder of SuccessNet, has one of the best illustrations I’ve ever seen of our infinite supply of wealth. This is from one of his recent newsletters:

“One of the limiting beliefs held by many–either consciously or unconsciously–is that there is a finite supply of money. In other words, if one person has more, then that means someone else has less. It’s simply not true, and the following story illustrates the point well.

Back in the eighties, Steven Rockefeller built a house in Cornwall, Vermont. It was reported to have cost a million dollars. Back then, a million-dollar home in Vermont was quite rare. It was a beauty, and I’m sure it’s worth much more today.

My friend John Cady was one of the best commercial painters in northern Vermont, and he was fortunate enough to be awarded the painting contract for the Rockefeller mansion. I always thought it was interesting he was paid by checks written on account number ONE of the Chase Manhattan Bank.

Stay with me here, as we see how wealth was not only moved to Vermont but also how it created even MORE wealth.

Before the house was built, Rockefeller had a million dollars in his family’s bank in New York. After the house was built, he still had his million dollars; it’s just that now it’s in the form of a house. He exchanged his interest-earning million dollars for a million-dollar appreciating asset–his home.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. This was not a tit-for-tat exchange. The million dollars was transformed–cash into real estate. But there was ALSO now a million dollars in cash in the hands of contractors and building suppliers. That million was circulating through the Vermont economy and beyond.

A million dollars became two million dollars in the course of only a few months. Wealth was not only transferred–it was CREATED.

That’s the power of the economy. And there’s no limit to the wealth and prosperity that can be created.”

The most important element of success

“Even if he fails again and again to accomplish his purpose — as he must until weakness is overcome — the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success, and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph. ” — As A Man Thinketh

When most young children are given a puzzle to solve or put together that is especially challenging, most will make a good effort at solving it, but if unsuccessful will soon lose interest and abandon it. Some will even become angry at their failure to solve it and may throw a tantrum.

Contrast that with the experienced puzzle player who proceeds to put the puzzle together with an air of certain confidence that they will complete it. They know that they have all of the pieces of the puzzle before them so it is only a matter of finding out which pieces work where and once that’s done the puzzle will be complete. Putting a piece in the wrong place is not a cause for concern, it’s simply another step toward putting all of the pieces in their proper place.

I think of all the times in my life when I acted like a young child in dealing with the current puzzle in my life. Instead of turning over and trying the next piece, I got angry and walked away from the puzzle, seeing the puzzle as a problem instead of as an opportunity.

Napoleon Hill, author of the classic Think and Grow Rich, knew Thomas Edison and Henry Ford personally. He said of both men that the ONLY thing that was different about them from everyone else was their persistence. Which gives rise to an interesting thought. Where would our civilization be today if either man had treated his puzzles like the impatient young child?

If you don’t have all of the pieces of your puzzle on the table, then stop, identify them and get them on the table before proceeding. If, however, you’ve got them on the table, then take the approach of the experienced puzzle player. When they don’t fit — don’t quit — try another piece or move them to another place. While you’re at it, learn another valuable lesson from great puzzle players. They don’t just enjoy completing the puzzle, they delight in putting it together.

Napoleon Hill thought Persistence was a pretty important key to success — he used the word 97 times in Think and Grow Rich and he devoted an entire chapter to it. Some of his wisdom includes, “The majority of people are ready to throw their aims and purposes overboard, and give up at the first sign of opposition or misfortune. A few carry on DESPITE all opposition, until they attain their goal. These few are the Fords, Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Edisons. There may be no heroic connotation to the word “persistence,” but the quality is to the character of man what carbon is to steel.”

And that’s worth thinking about.