Three feet away

FOR years, I have tried to go into business. My most serious attempt was five years ago when I went to Davao City to find out once and for all if I could translate into reality the things I thought I knew about business and entrepreneurship.

After almost three years and three business ventures, I went back to Manila teary-eyed.

So I went back to the profession where my skills were marketable enough – newspapering. Still, my yearning to have a business of my own has not subsided, in spite of the temporary defeats.

However, those setbacks have left a scar in my confidence of success in business. In order to avoid my past mistakes, I did some evaluation of my business failures, three of them in three years.

I realized that I quit too early in each of those attempts! I suddenly remembered a story in one of the first books I read about enterprise (it’s actually a self-help book), the classic Think and Grow Rich authored by Napoleon Hill.

I distinctly remember an anecdote he shared in the book’s introduction. Hill narrated a true-to-life experience of a certain “uncle of R.U. Darby” who joined the Colorado gold rush in the middle of the 19th century.

“After weeks of labor, he was rewarded by the discovery of the shining ore. He needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface,” Hill wrote. “Quietly, he covered up the mine, retraced his footsteps to his home in Williamsburg, Maryland, told his relatives and a few neighbors of the “strike.” They got together money for the needed machinery, had it shipped. The uncle and Darby went back to work the mine.”

After frenzied drilling activities, all along with millions of dollars in profit in mind, the vein of gold ore suddenly disappeared.

“They had come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold was no longer there! They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again–all to no avail,” he narrated.

The Darbys finally decided to quit.

They sold the machinery to a junk man, who decided to pick up where the Darbys left off. He wisely consulted a mining engineer, who calculated that “the vein would be found just three feet from where the Darbys had stopped drilling!”

Needless to say, the junk man became a millionaire in no time.

When Mr. Darby, the original discoverer of the vein of gold ore who quit too early, learned of this development, he decided to make a fortune out of his misfortune.

Mr. Darby went on to become a life insurance salesman, one of the most successful in the United States at the time.

Every time a prospective client said “No,” he would always remind himself of the vein of gold ore lying three feet from where he quit. Then he would be motivated to do whatever it takes to win the target client over.

Never quit! That’s one lesson would-be entrepreneurs like me must learn because success might be merely a few feet away from where you want to quit.  Fort Nicolas

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