Three Valuable Words
By Earl Nightingale
I was once interviewed by a man and his wife who were writing a book about well-known people who’ve overcome problems of various kinds in order to further their lives. I mentioned to him that everyone must overcome problems of various degrees and that people who are more or less in the public’s eye aren’t any more courageous than other people we may never hear about. In fact, the story of every life is a story of obstacles overcome.
But they wanted my story, so I told them of three words that had have been of incalculable help to me in reaching various goals. Whenever I became depressed and things seemed rather hopeless, I would always say to myself, “Stay with it.” “Stay with it” kept me going many times when it seemed the better part of valor to quit and settle for smaller goals. And it’s nothing more than persistence. To me, a personal reminder is always that persistence can accomplish almost anything.
The habit of persistence soon becomes the habit of winning. Every successful person’s story is the story of persistence, of “staying with it” day after day despite the problems and setbacks and mistakes and disappointments that seem to test our resolve from time to time. The power of a person’s persistence seems to be determined by the strength of his or her goal. We read and hear about people who sail around the world in a 30-foot sailboat and overcome handicaps to win a gold medal at the Olympic games, and sooner or later, we find their stories about persistence, of simply staying with it one day at a time.
I remember well the day that I sat down to write the first of my radio programs. That was more than 20 years ago. That was 5,200 programs ago, with about 700 words to the program; that’s 3,640,000 words ago. Or the equivalent of 36 full-size books ago. Now that’s certainly no world’s record, but a good example of what persistence can do all the same. I can recall that my friend Lowell Thomas’s study was completely lined with the bound copies of his broadcasts.
When we see the tired faces of commuters on the big city subway and children climbing aboard the school bus, we see persistence at work. We see it in the expression of the wife and mother doing her grocery shopping or the week’s laundry or preparing another meal. But everything we do contributes to the life we lead, the joys we experience, the satisfactions we realize from time to time, and persistence itself is a joy when we’re doing what we enjoy and want to do. But there are times when we need to remind ourselves: “Stay with it”. This is what I’ve chosen of my own free will to do, and so I’ll do it to the very best of my ability come what may.
So in the interview, it all seemed to come down to making up one’s mind about what one wants to do and then starting toward it and doing it every day, day after day, month after month, until one day you’ve got what you’ve set out to get, for good or bad, and it’s time to decide on another goal and head out on the new course. It all seems to be a matter of just staying with it. It’s not a very complicated success formula, is it? Just make up your mind what it is you want very much to have or to do, and get started. And when the going gets very tough, and it’s a bad, bad day, and you feel like giving up, you say to yourself, “Stay with it.”
Stay with it.