By John Wood

Recently I’ve been reading Brian Tracy’s new book “Flight Plan”.

In one chapter he tells the story about a man from the Midwest, who during the deep depression of the 1890’s, lost the hotel he owned. With little money, but with lots of time on his hands, he decided to write a book.

So he took a room above a livery stable and worked night and day. The evening he finished the final page, tired and hungry, he decided to go out to a small café for dinner. While he was dining, the livery stable caught fire and burned to the ground.

His entire manuscript – more than 5,500 pages, an entire year’s work – was destroyed by flames in a matter of minutes.

He was overwhelmed and heartbroken.

But he picked himself up and started all over again. A year later, he had re-written his manuscript.

He then tried to get it published. But with the depression being in its third year, no one was interested. He moved to Chicago, found a job and met someone who happened to know a publisher.

The publisher read his book and said, “This is exactly what people should be reading in the middle of the depression or at any other time”.

It became the single greatest classic in the history of personal development books at that time. People like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and J.P. Morgan cited it as inspiration.

The man’s name was Orison Swett Marden. The book he wrote is called “Pushing to the Front”.

When he lost his manuscript in the livery fire, he knew he couldn’t give up. Because his entire book was built around the importance of persisting in the face of adversity.

Marden went on to write more than twenty other inspirational books. In 1897 he founded “Success” Magazine. He died in 1924 at the age of 74.

Here are a couple of passages from “Pushing to the Front”. Words which still ring true over 110 years after he wrote them:

“There are two essential requirements for success. The first is “go-at-it-iveness” and the second is “stick-to-it-iveness”.”

On persistence he wrote:

“There is no failure for the man who realizes his power, who never knows when he’s beaten; there is no failure for the determined endeavour, the unconquerable will. There is no failure for the man who gets up every time he fails, who rebounds like a rubber ball, who persists when everyone else gives up, who pushes when every one else turns back.”


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