Bob Bergeth asked:
We have all known people of marked ability. Who tried one thing and failed; who tried another and another but failed. What key success, leadership and motivation trait was missing?
The ancient crest of a pickaxe with the motto of, “Either I will find a way or make one,” was an expression of sturdy independence. To this day, this motto distinguishes the descendants of Scandinavia.
There is, however, one requirement above all that determines success or failure, leadership or lack of leadership.
Singleness of purpose is one of the prime essentials of success, motivation and leadership. Singleness of purpose motivates and inspires one into action. It keeps you on course and helps you remain focused. It concentrates your efforts.
We have all heard the saying, “Jack of all trades and master of none.” Such people never win, though they may excite the admiration of the curious by their impractical versatility.
A French philosopher in speaking on this subject says, “It is well to know something about everything, and everything about something.” General information is always useful, but special information is essential to success.
The field of learning is too vast to be carefully gone over in one lifetime. A person may do a number of things fairly well, but can do only one thing very well.
Often versatility, instead of being a blessing, is an injury. A few people like Michael Angelo in art and Benjamin Franklin in science and letters have succeeded in everything they undertook. However, to follow these people would be a rule of exception.
We have all known people of marked ability who lacked purpose. Who tried one thing and failed; who tried another and another but failed. Had they stuck doggedly to one pursuit their chances for success would be good.
There is a famous speech from an old Norseman. “I believe neither in idols nor demons, I put my sole trust in my own strength of body and soul.” He could have added I put my whole trust in God to help me see this though.
Hugh Miller said the only school that taught him much was, “That world-wide school in which toil and hardship are the severe but noble teachers.”
Let any task be undertaken, as a thing not possible to be evaded, and it will soon come to be performed with enthusiasm and cheerfulness.
Charles IX of Sweden was a firm believer in the power of will, even in youth. Laying his hand on the head of his youngest son when engaged in a difficult task, he exclaimed, “He shall do it! He shall do it!”
The habit of purpose and application becomes easy in time. Thus, persons with comparatively moderate powers will accomplish much, if they apply themselves completely and persistently to do one thing at a time.
Where there is a will there is a way. The person who resolves to do something, by that very decision often scales the barriers to it, and secures its achievement.
To think we are able is almost to be so. To try to attain is frequently success itself. Thus, earnest resolution has often seemed to have about it almost a taste of power.
One of Napoleon’s favorite maxims was, “The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.” He threw his whole force of body and mind directly into his work.
When told that the Alps stood in the way of his armies he responded, “There shall be no Alps. Impossible is a word only to be found in the dictionary of fools.”
Napoleon toiled terribly, sometimes employing and exhausting four secretaries at a time. He spared no one, not even himself. His influence inspired people, and put new life into them. “I made my generals out of mud,” he said. Napoleon’s intense selfishness, however, was his ruin, and the ruin of France, which he left prey to anarchy.
Resolute determination and singleness of purpose is not the only requirement for success as Napoleon most assuredly, proved. Nevertheless, it is essential to success and leadership.
When you are driven to action by singleness of purpose, every obstacle disappears and every lesson of experience becomes the stepping-stone to further victories.
Horace Mann, famous as a teacher and reformer in his day, had friends in Ohio who urged him to run for Congress. He replied, “I have a great deal of respect for men in public life, but I have more respect for my life-work. If I know anything, it is the science or art of teaching, and to this work, please God, I shall devote the whole of my life.” He kept his word. Who has not heard of Webster’s Dictionary?
Singleness of purpose implies firmness. In this day of change and speculation, the person who has saved up a little money, hoping one day to go into business, will find on every hand temptations to invest in enterprises of which he knows nothing.
Remember there is no element of human character as potent as firmness, resoluteness. For entrepreneurs, leaders and for success it is all-important. Its irresistible energy makes the most formidable obstacles become as cobweb barriers in its path.
Difficulties, the terror of which causes the timid and pampered sons of luxury to shrink back with dismay, must rouse from a person superior resolve.
The whole history of the human race, all of nature, indeed teems with examples to show what wonders resolute perseverance and patient toil accomplishes.
Tamerlane was the Tartar Conqueror from the Middle Ages, who restored the former Mongol Empire of Genghis Kahn. Tamerlane’s reign of terror spread through all the Eastern nations of that day. He was the greatest conqueror and warrior of the Middle Ages.
Tamerlane, 1369-1405, learned from an insect a lesson of perseverance, which had a striking effect on his future character and success.
During one battle, he took refuge in some old ruins. There he saw an ant tugging and striving to carry a single grain of corn. Sixty-nine times the ant tried. Sixty-nine times the ant failed. At each, brave attempt, when the ant reached a certain point, it fell back unable to surmount it; on the ant’s seventieth attempt, it triumphed. This little ant motivated Tamerlane and left him exulting in the hope of future victory.
How significant this lesson is! How many thousand of instances are there in which humiliating defeat ends the career of the timid and least determined. If tenacity of purpose had been present, triumphant success would be the crown. This day, let your motto be, “Never quit and never say die.”
Resolution is almost omnipotent. Someone said it is not because things are difficult that we dare not undertake them. Be bold in spirit. Indulge no doubts. Shakespeare says truly and wisely:
“Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt.”
In the practical pursuit of high aim, never lose sight of your aim. It is more by a disregard of small things, than by open and flagrant offenses, that we come short of excellence. There is always a right and a wrong way. Observe this rule, and every experience will be a means of advancement.
Copyright 2007 by Robert L. Bergeth