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We’re all familiar with the strength and determination exhibited by Winston Churchill during World War II.  Were it not for him England would surly have been defeated, and possibly the war itself would have turned out differently.

What people then, and even now don’t know is that Prime Minister Churchill suffered from acute depression.  He named it “The Black Dog.”  The Black Dog was a lifelong battle with depression, fear and self-doubt.  It was so severe that he would be bed ridden for days at a time.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

Another great man…probably our greatest President…suffered all his life with depression, anxiety attacks and nightmares.  Before he became President his friends would often keep him under a suicide watch.  That President’s name?  Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln

These men were able to deal with their depression and anxiety because they devoted themselves 100% to a great cause.

Their “great cause” was the survival of their country.  However, a great cause doesn’t have to be that “great.”  It can be something as simple as being the best person we can be.  And let me tell you, being the best person you can be could very well accomplish things that are as important as what Churchill and Lincoln accomplished.


Thank goodness everyone doesn't believe what people say to them:

Thomas Edison's teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything. 

Beethoven's teacher once told him that he was hopeless as a composer. 

The famous opera singer Enrico Caruso's parents wanted him to be an engineer, and his teachers said he couldn't sing. 

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because the editor said he lacked ideas. 

Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was four and didn't read until he was seven.  His teacher described him as "mentally slow; unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams." 

Vince Lombardi, the great professional football coach known for his ability to motivate his players, early in his coaching career had an expert say of him, "He possesses minimal football knowledge.  Lacks motivation."

Thomas EdisonBeethovenEnrico CarusoWalt Disney
Thomas Edison - Beethoven - Enrico Caruso - Walt Disney

Albert EinsteinVince Lombardi
Albert Einstein - Vince Lombardi

If these people accepted the negative things said about them, there would be no electric light bulbs; classical music would be sadly lacking; we wouldn't be able to talk about the theory of relativity; and worst of all, there would be no Disneyland to go to escape reality.

Go the distance.


Just Existing!

Each of us has been given a limited number of days to spend on this planet.  We all know of people who are blessed to be able to live a long life, who, unfortunately, spend that life just existing.  We’ve also know people who have had a relatively short life, but it seems as if they were able to cram twice as much into each day than the average person.

If we live our lives based on the following poem, no matter how long we live, we’ll live a full life:

A New Day!

"This is the beginning of a new day.

God has given me this day to use as I will.

I can waste it or use it for good.

What I do today is very important because
I am exchanging a day of my life for it.

When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever
Leaving something in its place I have traded for it.

I want it to be a gain, not loss...
good, not evil...
success, not failure
in order that I shall not regret the price I paid for it."


drilling holes"It's all in the way you look at something."  There's more to that statement than you may realize.

A man with no experience in the drilling industry was appointed the president of a drill bit company.  Shortly after taking over the company he met with his manufacturing staff and sales force, and declared that, "We will no longer sell drill bits.  From this time forward we will sell holes."

This subtle change in the way the company looked at what they did resulted in a dramatic increase in sales and profit by their developing and selling a large variety of ways to "create holes."

Creative people are always willing to look at things differently.

In 2012 try looking at the things you do and experience in a different way.  Instead of looking at problems as problems, look at them as an opportunity to be creative and innovative.


pumping gasI was pumping fuel in my vehicle when a man in his late thirties came up to me and asked for some money so he could buy gas for his car.

I asked him why he didn’t have money of his own.

He responded, “Well, it’s not my fault, my wife and her lawyer took all my money when she divorced me.”

“Why did she divorce you?”  I asked.

“Well, she caught me running around on her.  But it wasn’t my fault.  She wasn’t a good wife.”

“And you were a good husband?”

“Yes.  Of course.”

“Then why did you run around on her?”          

“I told you it wasn’t my fault.”           

As nice as I could, I said, “Your situation isn’t my fault either.  And I don’t think I should be responsible for getting you out of it.”           

He left mumbling something about how nobody cares anymore.

Accept responsibility for your life.

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For several years the owner of a small drug store hated his work.  He spent his time looking for other opportunities.  One day he asked himself, 'Why am I trying to get into another business, when this is the business I know best?"

Charles WalgreenOnce he made the decision to take advantage of the opportunity he had at hand, he started learning all he could about the drug store business.  When he changed his attitude toward his business, he became successful.

The man was Charles R. Walgreen, the founder of America's largest drug store chain.  He based his success more on his attitude toward his work than the work itself.

There is no such thing as a "dead end job."  There are only people who create a dead end to their job.  You may be flipping hamburgers for a minimum wage.  If you do the job to the best of your ability, and prepare yourself to go beyond that job, opportunities beyond your wildest imagination will come your way.

Looking back years later Charles Walgreen said, "It was easy.  It was fun."

He learned a basic truth.  Opportunity lies right at your own door if you'll just look at what you're doing as an interesting game, and play it with all your might.

Go the distance.


Before Theodore Roosevelt became the President of the United States he was a cowboy and rancher.  As a boy Roosevelt was sickly and fearful.  Later in life he wrote the following:

Theodore Roosevelt as a boy“When a boy, I read a passage in one of Marryat’s books which always impressed me.  In this passage the captain of some small British man-of-war is explaining to the hero how to acquire the quality of fearlessness.  He says that at the outset almost every man is frightened when he goes into action, but that the course to follow is for the man to keep such a grip on himself that he can act just as if he were not frightened.  After this is kept up long enough, it changes from pretense to reality, and the man does in very fact become fearless by sheer dint of practicing fearlessness when he does not feel it.

“This was the theory upon which I went.  There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid at first, ranging from grizzly bears to ‘mean’ horses and gunfighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid.  Most men can have the same experience if they choose.”

Theodore Roosevelt’s experience should teach us a couple of lessons about self-confidence.  The first is that just because a person is self-confident, doesn’t mean he’s fearless.  A self-confident person can be just as afraid as the rest of us.  The difference is that they “act” self-confident.  The second is that by acting self-confident, a person actually becomes self-confident.


Dusty was making his first solo parachute jump from a plane.  As the plane was approaching the jump zone, the instructor ran through the procedure one more time.

“There are four things you need to parachutistremember.  First, when I tell you to jump, you jump.  Second, wait five seconds and pull the ripcord.  Third, if the main chute doesn’t open, pull the emergency chute ripcord.  And, fourth, when you land, the truck will be there to pick you up.”

The instructor said “Jump”, and Dusty jumped.  After five seconds, he pulled the ripcord.  The chute didn’t open.  He then pulled the emergency ripcord.  It didn’t open either.  As Dusty was in free fall, he was heard to say, “With my luck I bet the truck won’t be there either.”

Is being positive the truck won’t be there a positive or negative attitude?  It’s a bit like if you’re sure you’re going to fail and you fail; have you succeeded?

Be positive and cheerful.


During ancient times a king was having his 50th birthday.  He requested each family within the kingdom bring him a present.

There were two brothers who lived within his kingdom.  One was very wealthy.  The other was a poor farmer who grew pumpkins.a pumpkin

The poor farmer, wanting to show his appreciation of the king, and not knowing what else to give him, brought the best he had, the biggest pumpkin in his patch.

The king, knowing the sacrifice of the farmer, said, "This is the best gift I have ever received.  Because of this, I will give you one-forth of my kingdom."

wheelbarrow with gemsThe rich brother, seeing the reward his poor brother received for a mere pumpkin, and hoping to receive an even larger portion of the kingdom, filled a wheelbarrow with gems and gold, virtually depleting his wealth.

pumpkinShowing excitement with the gift, the king said, "This is such a great gift I must reward you with the greatest gift I have ever received."  And he gave the man the pumpkin.


If we give in order to receive, we may just get a pumpkin in return.

Be a good friend and neighbor.


Shoeing A HorseA beggar asking for money approached a New York businessperson.  Before the businessperson had a chance to say "No", his eyes and the beggar's met.  Through the beard, weathered face and dirty clothes the businessperson saw something familiar in the beggar's eyes.

As the traveler and his dog entered the gate he saw a man sitting at a desk.  "Where are we?" asked the traveler.  "This is heaven," said the man at the desk.

"Don't I know you?" Asked the businessperson.

"Yes.   I'm a college classmate." Responded the beggar.

After they talked for a while, the businessperson pulled out his checkbook, and wrote a thousand-dollar check in the name of the beggar.

"You take this check and use it to help get yourself a new start."

bank interiorThe beggar took the check, and headed toward the nearest bank.  As he stepped inside the bank, he noticed the opulence of the bank; the clothes of the customers and tellers; and decided because of his looks, they would believe he had stolen or forged the check.  So he folded it; put it in his pocket; and walked back to the street.  He never cashed the check.

Each of us has been given the resources to do great things.  Many of us never use them because of assumptions and fears.

Go the distance.


Man walking a dogA man was walking down a road with his dog when he realized he was dead.  He remembered dying, and that his dog had died years before.  As he continued down the road he came upon a large mother of pearl gate with a gold street leading to it.

As the traveler and his dog entered the gate he saw a man sitting at a desk.  "Where are we?" asked the traveler.  "This is heaven," said the man at the desk.

"May I have some water?"

"You may, but you can't bring your dog inside," responded the gatekeeper.  Not wanting to leave his companion behind, the traveler with his dog turned and continued down the road.

Later the traveler came upon a farmhouse.  As he approached it he saw a man setting in a chair.  "May we have some water?" questioned the traveler.

"You may.  And there is a bowl next to the well to water your dog."

"What do you call this place?" asked the traveler.

"This is heaven."

"But the place down the street with the pearly gate is heaven," said the traveler.
Man Outside Pearly Gates

"Oh, that is actually hell."

The traveler asked, "Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name?"

"Actually not. We're just happy that they screen out the folks who'll leave their best friends behind."

Never abandon friends, even those who walk on only two legs.

Be a good friend and neighbor.

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The other Sunday our pastor told us about a fishing tournament in which he had recently participated.  This was his first tournament and his partner hadn’t been in many more.

They had borrowed a friend’s boat that had all the bells and whistles.

With high expectations they backed the boat into the lake.  Just as the tournament began they noticed there were several inches of water in the bottom of the boat.  Anxious to get to shore, they attempted to start the motor.  But nothing happened.  The water had shorted out the electrical system.  Using the small trolling motor, they limped back to the dock.

With the boat getting lower in the water, they backed the trailer down the launch ramp.  As they pulled the boat out of the water, the trailer came unhitched from the truck.

After what seemed to be hours, they got the trailer hitched back on the truck and discovered the reason for the leak in the boat was their neglecting to insert the drain plug.

Even though the tournament was well under way, and they were still unable to start their main motor, they decided to do what they had come to do…fish.  Using the trolling motor, they slowly worked their way about the lake.

Two Men Fishing

At the end of the day they brought their catch to be weighed.  And to their surprise…as well as everyone else’s…they ended up in third place.

They were truly modern day cowboys in fishing vests and baseball caps, because they went the distance.


lemonadeAll luck isn’t good luck.  Sometimes you’re handed a lemon.  What do you do?  Well, some people make lemonade out of it.

Although you don’t hear about it that much any more, Ivory Soap was a mistake.  When a batch of soap was made, the machine mixing the soap was left on too long and an extra amount of air was mixed into the batch.  Fortunately, before it was thrown out someone realized the extra air in the soap made it float.  Thus a new product was invented.

We all use “Post It Notes”.  This indispensable product came from a mistake.  It also illustrates how “luck” has little to do with success.  It’s persistence.  It also has the elements of noticing an opportunity and acting upon it that we talked about above.

Post It Notes

By accident, in 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a chemist at 3M in the United States, developed a "low-tack", pressure sensitive adhesive.  For five years Silver promoted his invention within 3M, both informally and through seminars, but without success.  In 1974, Art Fry, a colleague of his came up with the idea of using the adhesive to temporarily anchor a piece of paper to another piece of paper.

In 1977 a product was developed and marketed under the name of “Press ‘N Peel.”  It went nowhere and was about to be dropped when in 1978 free samples were given to people in Boise, Idaho.  Ninety-five percent of the people said they would buy the product.  It was reissued under the name of “Post-It Notes” aided with a large advertising campaign.  As they say, “the rest is history.”

Go the distance.


We often think of successful people as never failing.  Not true.  Quite often a successful person failed more times than a person who wasn’t successful.

We all know of Babe Ruth’s home run records.  But did you know that he also held strike out records?

Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four years old and didn’t read until he was seven.  His parents though he was “sub-normal.”  One of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.”

Albert Einstein

He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

However, in spite of his failures, he did learn to speak and read…Also, he was pretty good at math.

Go the distance.


A few years ago Dr. Robert Rosenthal of Harvard University did an experiment in the San Francisco school system.  Three teachers were told they would each be teaching a class of exceptional students.  The teachers were asked not to inform the students or their parents about the uniqueness of the classes.  Because they were exceptional students, the teachers gave them extra assignments and spent more time working with them.

Students Studying

At the end of the experiment, the students not only got the highest grades in their school; they also got the highest in their district.

The teachers were called into a meeting by Dr. Rosenthal and congratulated for doing a great job in working with the students.  Then he told the teachers, their students weren’t actually exceptional.  The students had been selected at random.

The teachers responded by indicating that obviously the students succeeded because the district’s top three teachers taught them.  “Not so,” said Dr. Rosenthal, “The three of you were also selected at random.

This is the law of expectation.  We get those results we expect.

Go the distance.


An elderly man came to live with his son, daughter-in-law and young grandson.  The elderly man was quite feeble, and his hands shook.  During means it was not unusual for food to spill from the old man’s fork or spoon.  As he drank, the liquid would run down the corners of his mouth.

An Elderly Man Eating

After a short time the son could no longer take the mess that happened at each meal.  He placed a small table in another room for the old man.  To make sure he didn’t break any dishes, the old man’s food was placed in a wooden bowl.  The old man became sad, but accepted the new arrangements.

A few days after the old man had been moved into another room, the father noticed his son carving on a piece of wood with a table knife.  The father asked his son what he was doing.  His son replied, “I’m making wooden bowls for you and mom to eat from when you get old.”

We must always remember that the way we treat others sets the standard for the way we are to be treated.


How many time do you have what you thought was a great idea?  What happened?  Chances are right after you got the idea, you told a friend about it.  And chances are when you told your friend you didn’t really do a great job of explaining it.  And the friend, in a nice way said it was “half baked.”

A Great Idea

According to Joyce Kifler, “Every success must have a time of incubation.”  Often when we get an idea, we’re so excited about it that we start sharing it with everyone.  Because the idea is still young and soft and vulnerable, it dies from the constant assault from “well meaning” friends.  An idea should be protected the way we do anything that’s young.

Ms. Kifler suggests, “We can talk the life out of an idea before it has had time to firm up.  The more we talk, the less important it becomes until if finally dwindles to a thought that is not at all what it seemed to be.”

An idea that has had time to become strong will grow and produce what we envisioned it to be.

That way you can “go the distance.”


“Knowledge is power.”  We probably remember our parents or some teacher telling us this as a means of encouraging us to study.  But is it true?  Is knowledge really power?  During our lifetime I’m sure we’ve all experienced knowing someone extremely knowledgeable who spent their life accumulating knowledge and doing nothing with it.


When I was young, my father took me by a shack with no electricity or water.  Once inside I discovered the interior walls were cardboard.  For insulation, the occupant had stuffed newspaper between the cardboard and exterior walls.  The occupant was a fifty-year-old, ex-college professor with two doctor’s degrees.  During our two-hour conversation, he spoke very eloquently.  I’m not exactly sure of his problem.  Obviously, he had chosen not to be a participant in society.  He had knowledge, but no power, because he wasn’t using his knowledge.

Knowledge isn’t power.  Knowledge is only “potential” power.  Turn the knowledge you have into power.  Participate and accept responsibility for your life.


Harland Sanders had worked hard all his life.  In his sixties, he and his wife had a successful combination restaurant and gas station.  He received a handsome offer for the business.  But, he wasn’t ready to retire.  So he turned down the offer.  Unknown to him at the time, the state was planning to build a highway bypassing his business.  At the age when he was ready to retire, Harland’s business failed.  He was broke, living on a few hundred-dollar Social Security check.

Harland Sanders
Harland Sanders

Did Harland feel sorry for himself?  Did he blame the state?  Possibly.  But only for a short period of time.  Not finding the circumstances he wanted, he made them.

Everybody loved the fried chicken he and his wife had served in their restaurant.  So, Harland packed a suitcase, grabbed a pressure cooker and the special spices they had used as seasoning and took off to sell his product.  Sleeping in his car, Harland called on close to a thousand restaurants before he found someone who bought his idea of their selling his fried chicken for a royalty on product sold.  When he was able to accumulate enough money, Harland opened his own restaurant.  It became the first of thousands of Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurants that now circle the globe.

Accept responsibility for yourself.

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