• 72°

Lesson 57: Never give up

If youre going through hell, keep going.

Winston Churchill

Wilma Rudolph was born in rural Tennessee in 1940. Her family was large she was the twentieth of 22 children and very poor. She was born prematurely and suffered a series of major childhood diseases, including polio which left her left leg weak and deformed. Her doctor told her that she would never walk again.

Despite the poor prognosis, the Rudolph family worked together to improve Wilmas chances. She eventually learned to walk with the aid of metal leg braces; at the age of 12, she discarded them and began walking on her own. Determined to become an athlete, she joined the basketball team at her segregated school, but didnt play in a single game for three straight years.

When she finally did get in, she became a star. She earned a track scholarship to Tennessee State University, even though her high school had no track team. She won three gold medals in the 1960 Rome Olympics the first woman ever to attain such a feat. It would have been natural for the young girl to give up, but she persisted and prevailed.

Have you ever known someone who had plenty of brains and talent, but never stuck with anything long enough to make a successful go of it? The world is full of such people. They never learn the secret of persistence, of continuing to work toward a goal.

In the old Star Trek television series, they had a transporter beam, a device that could transport a person instantly across the great void of space. In the real-life world of achieving goals, there is no transporter beam. You have to make the journey yourself, one step at a time. Youll get knocked off course, sure, but you must get up, set your eyes back on the destination, and get back on track.

This quote by Calvin Coolidge sums it up beautifully: Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.

Press on, my friend.

Excerpted from The Graduates Book of Practical Wisdom: 99 Lessons They Cant Teach in School by C. Andrew Millard, published by Morgan James Publishing, available in bookstores and online. &opy; 2008 by C. Andrew Millard; all rights reserved. For more information visit www.wisegraduate.com.~ Advice for Young written by Andy Millard