I give advice to people so often that I forget to seek advice or listen to others who would help me greatly if I did. Today, I’m listening, thanks to a great message from someone else.
How many times do we get so close to a finish line only to quit? We probably don’t know because we often don’t realize that the prize was right in front of us, just a few steps further, and out of our sight.
This morning, this message hit me like a 2 x 4 to the side of my head, because I’ve heard it and read it and recounted it to dozens of people, only to overlook the nuggets of wisdom in it for me, right now, in my own endeavors. And it made me wonder, how many times have I quit or almost quit just before the big payoff while preaching this message to clients and friends?
The story which presents this so clearly for me, is “Three Feet from Gold,” featured in Think and Grow Rich (among other places), and it’s right on the money, so to speak:
During the Gold Rush, an uncle of R. U. Darby was caught by the “gold fever” and went west to find his fortune in the ground. He staked his claim and went to work with pick and shovel. The going was hard, but his lust for gold was real.
After weeks of labor, he was rewarded by the discovery of the shining ore! He needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface. So, quietly, he covered up his mine, retraced his footsteps to his home in Williamsburg, Maryland and told his relatives and a few friends of the “strike.” They got together money for the needed machinery and had it shipped. The uncle and Darby went back to work the mine.
The first car of ore was mined, and shipped to a smelter. The returns proved they had one of the richest mines in Colorado! A few more cars of that ore would clear the debts. Then would come the big killing in profits.
Down went the drills! Up went the hopes of Darby and Uncle! Then something happened! The vein of gold ore 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.
Finally, they decided to QUIT. They sold the machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars, and took the train back home. Some “junk” men are dumb, but not this one! He called in a mining engineer to look at the mine and do a little calculating. The engineer advised that the project had failed because the owners were not familiar with “fault lines.” His calculations showed that the vein would be found JUST THREE FEET FROM WHERE THE DARBYS HAD STOPPED DRILLING! That is exactly where it was found!
The important nugget that is often overlooked in the story is that the junk man, although not an educated man, was smart enough to seek expert counsel. It would be foolish to press on after a dream that has no future to it, but more foolish to do so without seeking the counsel of wise men.
Unfortunately for Darby, he quit without expert advice. Because Darby was a young man at the time, he had borrowed most of the money for the machinery from his family and friends, who gave it to him because of their faith in him. He paid back every dollar of it, but it took him years to do it. The junk man, on the other hand, mined millions of dollars of gold from Darby’s abandoned claim.
Are you facing a challenge today that seems overwhelming? Does it look like the end of the thread of gold that you once thought was so close you could almost touch it? Things always get the hardest when you are closest to your breakthrough (it’s darkest just before the dawn, as they say).
Don’t miss out on the gold. It may be right in front of you, just beyond where you can see it with your eyes. Consult experts and get wise counsel before you throw in the towel. Staying the course might be exactly what you are supposed to do.