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Successful people – whether they be plumbers, presidents, pediatricians or you – have certain traits that allow them to conquer new heights.
Tucked away in the northeast corner of Nepal, on the border with
Tibet, lies Mount Everest – the world’s highest peak, a monarch
among mountains. Because of its regal size, Everest is as mysterious
as it is dangerous and mastering it has been a goal of many –
some serious mountaineers and some who simply hoped to achieve
fame by taming the untamable. One man even tried to ascend the
mountain by crashing an airplane into it at a high altitude, hoping
to walk the rest of the way. His failure cost him his life.
In total, Everest has taken the lives of 142 climbers. It wasn’t
until Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay that Everest was scaled
What made these two different? Why did they succeed where so many
Mainly because they knew they could do it and they didn’t let
anyone or anything discourage them. Their desire – mixed with
determination, planning, positive thinking and persistence – became
reality when they stood at the top of Everest on May 29, 1953,
and looked down at the world below.
"Mixed with relief was a vague sense of astonishment that
I should have been the lucky one to attain the ambition of so
many brave and determined climbers," wrote Hillary about
" … I turned and looked at Tenzing. Even beneath his oxygen
mask and the icicles hanging from his hair, I could see his infectious
grin of sheer delight."
Although succeeding or failing at your business isn’t a life or
death situation like Everest was for Hillary and Norgay, successful
people – whether they be plumbers, presidents, pediatricians or
you – have certain traits that allow them to conquer new heights,
to climb to the top no matter what obstacles stand in their way.
The V-8 That Could
"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you
take your eyes off your goal."
– Henry Ford
When Henry Ford decided to produce his famous V-8 motor, he instructed
his engineers to design an engine with all eight cylinders cast
in one block. The design was put on paper, but the engineers told
Ford that it was impossible to cast an eight-cylinder engine block
in one piece.
"Produce it anyway," Ford said. "And stay on the
job until you succeed."
Six months went by … nothing.
Another six months … still nothing.
At the end of the year, Ford met with his engineers and again
they told him the task wasn’t possible.
"I want it, and I’ll have it," Ford said, instructing
them to keep at it.
Then, as if by magic, the secret was discovered.
Ford – who wouldn’t be told "no" – got what he wanted
because he was determined to do so. He was a success because he
understood and applied the principles of success – one of which
is desire, knowing what you want.
A Burning Desire
"There are no limitations to the mind except those we
In 1871, a cow kicked over a lantern, starting the Great Chicago
Fire that completely wiped out the city.
The morning after, a group of merchants stood on the street, looking
at the smoking remains of what had once been their stores. After
a bit of discussion as to whether they should rebuild or start
over in a more promising section of the country, all of them decided
to leave Chicago.
All except one.
The merchant who decided to stay and rebuild pointed to the smoldering
remains of his store and said, "Gentlemen, on that very spot
I’ll build the world’s greatest store, no matter how many times
it may burn down."
That was more than a century ago and the store still stands there
today – a monument to the power of Marshall Field’s burning desire.
Field didn’t just wish for riches and success. He desired them
with a state of mind that became an obsession, planned definite
ways to acquire them and then backed those plans with persistence
– which doesn’t recognize failure.
Taking a Tumble
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt
those who are doing it."
Her knee had been bothering her for some time, but she didn’t
think anything of it. Her mind was totally focused on something
else – on the goal she’d set for herself.
Six weeks before the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, however,
Mary Lou Retton’s knee had had enough: The cartilage broke off,
and the joint locked up.
Retton was rushed to the emergency room, operated on and then
told by doctors there was no way she’d go to the Olympics. But
Retton wasn’t one to give into defeat. "I’ve made it this
far," she said. "No one’s going to keep me from trying."
After finishing a rehabilitation program that normally took three
months in three weeks, Retton not only competed in the Olympics,
but performed perfectly, winning the all-around gold medal in
Have a _ _ _ _ and a Smile
"Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it
Not quite 90 years ago, an old country doctor drove into town,
hitched his horse and slipped in the back of a drug store. He
then began negotiating with the young drug clerk in hushed tones.
About an hour later, the doctor went out to the buggy and brought
in an old-fashioned kettle and a wooden paddle to stir the kettle’s
contents. After inspecting the kettle, the clerk reached into
his pocket and handed the doctor a roll of bills – $500, his life
The doctor then gave the clerk a small slip of paper with a "secret
formula" written on it.
Really, though, the old kettle, wooden paddle and secret formula
were incidental. Success came only when the young drug clerk added
another ingredient the old doctor knew nothing about.
After adding that ingredient, the old kettle converted a small
southern city into the business capital of the South, and its
legacy can be found in nearly every civilized country in the world.
Out of a single idea grew a vast empire of wealth and influence.
Out of a single idea, Asa Candler mixed the secret formula with
his own secret ingredient – imagination – and created Coca-Cola.
Fail Isn’t a Four-Letter Word
"The path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from
under me, knocking the other out of the way, but I recovered and
said to myself, ‘It’s a slip and not a fall. ‘ "
– Abraham Lincoln, after losing a Senate race
Born into poverty, Abraham Lincoln was faced with defeat throughout
his life. He lost eight elections, twice failed in business and
suffered a nervous breakdown. He could have quit – most would
have – but because he didn’t, he became one of our country’s greatest
Lincoln didn’t fear failure because he knew that those who were
afraid to fail also would never be brave enough to succeed. Consider
his rocky road to the White House:
1816: His family was forced out of their home. He worked to support
1818: His mother died.
1831: Failed in business.
1832: Ran for state legislature – lost.
1832: Lost his job. Wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get
1833: Borrowed money to start a business and went bankrupt. He
spent the next 17 years paying off this debt.
1834: Ran for state legislature again – won.
1835: Asked his sweetheart to marry him. She died the same year.
1836: Had a nervous break-down and was bedridden for six months.
1838: Ran for speaker of the state legislature – defeated.
1840: Sought to become elector – defeated.
1843: Ran for Congress – lost.
1846: Ran for Congress again – won. Went off to Washington and
1848: Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.
1849: Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.
1854: Ran for U.S. Senate – lost.
1856: Sought the vice-presidential nomination at his party’s national
convention – got less than 100 votes.
1858: Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.
1860: Elected president of the United States.
When Hillary and Norgay decided to climb Everest, they were, without
a doubt, told it couldn’t be done.
They didn’t listen. They didn’t allow critics to rob them of their
They also didn’t listen to the doubt within themselves because
they knew you can rob yourself of a dream just as easily as someone
can take one from you.
When they set out on their quest to conquer Everest, Hillary and
Norgay didn’t know for certain whether they’d succeed or fail.
What they did know for certain is that they had to try.
Writer Georgina Kajganic is editor of BodyShop Business.
"It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points
out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could
have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually
in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood,
who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again
because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who
knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause,
who at best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and
who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place
shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither
victory nor defeat."
– Theodore Roosevelt
When Life Gets Rocky
When life’s obstacles start to get you down, remember you’re not
alone. The following people encountered setbacks, too, but they
refused to be stopped:
- After Fred Astaire’s first screen test, a 1933 memo from MGM’s
testing direction said, "Can’t act. Slightly bald. Can dance
a little." Astaire kept that memo over the fireplace at his
Beverly Hills home.
- Thomas Edison failed thousands of times in his attempt to
invent the electric light bulb. When asked by a reporter prior
to his success how it felt to be a failure, Edison replied: "Son,
you don’t understand. I’ve never failed once. I’ve just found
several thousand ways not to make an electric light bulb!"
novel, "M*A*S*H," only to have it rejected by 21 publishers
before Morrow bought it. It became a runaway bestseller, spawning
a blockbuster movie and a successful television series.
his own compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher
called him hopeless as a composer.
He also went bankrupt seven times and had a complete nervous breakdown
before building Disneyland.
was encouraged by her family to find work as a servant or a seamstress.
read until he was seven. His teacher described him as "mentally
slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams."
record for strikeouts.
Long Way Down
Everyone fails at one time or another. But, the people who continue
to fail – never learning from their mistakes – tend to:
- Lack a well-defined purpose or goal;
- Lack ambition;
- Lack self-discipline;
- Lack persistence;
- Be negative;
- Be indecisive;
- Be too cautious, never take a chance;
- Select the wrong business associates;
- Lack enthusiasm;
- Be uncooperative with others;
- Be egocentric and vain;
- Guess instead of think.
Do any apply to you? If so, are you willing to put forth the effort
Remember, success comes at a price. If you always do what you’ve
always done, you’ll always get what you always got.
Words of Wisdom
It’s not always easy maintaining a positive outlook when you’ve
got two techs in your office complaining, a grumpy insurance adjuster
on hold, an impatient customer in the waiting room and one spouse
who hates you because you’re never home.
When the world around you is in chaos and you need an attitude
adjustment, hide somewhere for a few minutes and read these words
- Start with what you can do; don’t stop because of what you
- You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying
- Whether you say you can or you can’t, you’re right.
- It’s always better to fail at doing something than to excel
at doing nothing.
- The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the
other finds an excuse.
- Success is largely a matter of holding on after others have
- No one ever stumbled onto something big while sitting down.
- Go from knowing what others believe to knowing what you believe.
- There are a lot of ways to become a failure, but never taking
a chance is the most successful.
your own arm.
be lived by looking forward.
Take Away the Can’ts
History reveals there have always been people who say it "can’t"
If everyone had listened to these negative people – these champions
of "can’t" – we’d still be reading by candlelight, riding
horses to work and wondering if little green men live on the moon.
Consider the following statements taken from newspapers and magazines
widely read during their day:
1840 – "Anyone traveling at the speed of 30 miles per hour
would surely suffocate."
1878 – "Electric lights are unworthy of serious attention."
1901 – "No possible combination can be united into a practical
machine by which men shall fly."
1926 – "This foolish idea of shooting at the moon is basically
impossible," said a scientist.
1930 – "To harness the energy locked up in matter is impossible,"
said another scientist.