(An excerpt from the bestseller How to Completely Change Your Life in 30 Seconds,
based on talks by Earl Nightingale)
Falling Isn’t Failing
Mary Pickford used to say, “Don’t look at the sudden loss of a habit, or a way of life, as the end of the road; see it instead as only a bend in the road that will open up all sorts of interesting possibilities and new experiences. After all, you’ve seen the scenery on the old road for so long, and you obviously no longer like it.”
The breaking of a long-time habit does seem like the end of the road at the time – the complete cessation of enjoyment. Suddenly dropping the habit so fills our minds with the desire for the old habitual way that, for a while, it seems there will no longer be any peace, any sort of enjoyment. But that’s not true. New habits form in a surprisingly short time, and a whole new world opens up to us.
For those who have tried repeatedly to break a habit of some kind, only to repeatedly fail, Mary Pickford said, “Falling is not failing, unless you fail to get up.” Most people who finally win the battle over a habit have done so only after repeated failures.
I remember in Arthur Miller’s play The Price, the father lost everything during the stock market crash of 1929 and, for the rest of his life, sat in a room in the attic of a relative. That’s failing. It seems some people lack the stamina, the energy, to do it all over again or to make a new start. For them, it’s just the end of the road, and they’ve come to a full stop. Many lead such superficial lives, have so little depth of mind and spirit, that the sudden loss of income or material things is too much for them, and they jump out a window or retreat into insanity.
So if you’ve been trying to start in a new direction, you might do well to remember the advice of Mary Pickford: It isn’t the end of the road; it’s just a bend in the road. And falling isn’t failing, unless you don’t get up.
A successful life is built on the foundation of successful tasks – each completed in the pursuit of perfection – one day at a time.
A goal sometimes seems so far off and our progress often appears to be so painfully slow that we have a tendency to lose heart. It sometimes seems we’ll never make the grade. We come close to giving up – falling back into old habits, which, while they may be comfortable, lead to nowhere. Well, there’s a way to overcome this inevitable barrier to success, and here is the secret: Every great achievement is nothing more than the collection of smaller achievements done to perfection. Even the “impossible” has been accomplished through the relentless pursuit of success, one day at a time.
Have you ever seen a bricklayer starting a new building by putting the first brick in place? You are struck by the size of the job he has ahead of him. But one day, almost before you realize it, he’s finished. All the thousands of bricks are in place, each one vital to the finished structure, each one sharing its portion of the load. How did he do it? Simple, one brick at a time. And so is the pursuit of success and greatness.
A lifetime is composed of days, strung together into weeks, months, and years. A successful life is nothing more than a lot of successful days put together. As such, every day counts.
Just as a stone mason can put only one stone in place at a time, you can live only one day at a time. And it’s the way in which these stones are placed that will determine the beauty, the strength of the tower. If each stone is successfully placed – with care and quality – the tower will be a success. If, on the other hand, they’re put down in a hit-or-miss fashion – irrespective of quality – the whole tower is in danger. Seems simple. Yet, how many people do you know who live like this – focused on “just getting through” each day instead of on the “success” of each day. Which are you focused on?
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