At the end of my seminar yesterday (24/05/2015) in Abuja, a very curious and ambitious young lady asked me during the Question and Answer Session to summarize the secret of my success in two words. There was absolute silence in the hall. Everybody wanted to hear what I would say. What follows here is the summary of my response which received a standing ovation. The history of human race is the story of the triumph of persistence and determination. Every successful man or woman has had to endure serious trials and tribulations before reaching the heights of success and achievement. That persistence and determination is what made them great. This was beautifully summarized by Calvin Coolidge, the Thirtieth President of the United States when he said: “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 always will solve the problems of the human race.”
If you want to succeed in any human endeavour beyond your most utopian aspirations, you must develop the ability to persevere in the face of the inevitable obstacles and difficulties you will face. In fact, your ability to persist is what it takes to overcome the most difficult obstacles. Here is a beautiful poem that explains the issue of persistence and determination:
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
For life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out.
Success is just failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit!
— Anonymous
(Culled from Brian Tracy’s book: Maximum Achievement, 1993:170)
Persistence is probably the single most common quality of high achievers. They simply refuse to give up. The longer you hang in there, the greater the chance that something will happen in your favour. No matter how hard it seems, the longer you persist the more likely your success. According to H. Ross Perot, American billionaire and former U.S. presidential candidate, “Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one-yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.” B. C. Forbes, founder of Forbes Magazine further added that “History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” That is why a Japanese proverb says: “If you fall down seven times, get up eight times.”


Somebody once said (and I think it was Joseph Sugarman who said it), that “Each problem has hidden within it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity.” Your mind is very powerful indeed. Your thoughts control and determine almost everything that happens to you. Your thoughts can make you happy or sad, sometimes in an instant. In your material life, your thoughts can make you a success or failure, prosperous or poverty-stricken, respected or ignored. Your thoughts, and the actions that they trigger, determine your whole life. Perhaps the most important mental and spiritual principle ever discovered is that you become what you think about most of the time.
The reason why majority of graduates remain poor throughout their lives is because of the mistaken belief that the accumulation of general knowledge is an end in itself. This erroneous belief makes it difficult for most to think critically or even strive to acquire new and special knowledge or ideas to become really successful in life. The idea of going to school is to broaden the mind and prepare it to face the world in any given career or calling. In essence, it is the beginning and not an end in itself. Only a minority of graduates have this understanding, and who after their graduation from college or university have carved out for themselves enviable positions in the society.
The secret which majority of people is devoid of is the existence of a spiritual force that pervades the universe. And what is this power all about? We are surrounded by a universal mind that contains all the intelligence, ideas and knowledge that has ever existed, or that will ever exist. Because of this, different people in different parts of the world will often tap this energy and come up with the same ideas at the same time. Once you begin using your super conscious capabilities in a systematic way, you will get ideas from the blues. All successful people and unsuccessful people have one thing in common. They all have 24 hours a day. It is how they use them that make the difference. Likewise, everyone comes to the earth plane blessed with the privilege of controlling his mind power and directing it towards whatever ends he or she may choose. But according to Mr. Andrew Carnegie, everyone brings over with him or her at birth the equivalent of two sealed envelopes, one of which is clearly labeled: The Riches you may enjoy if you take possession of your own mind and direct it to ends of your own choice. And the other is labeled: The Penalties you must pay if you neglect to take possession of your mind and direct it.
In the one labeled Riches is this list of blessings:
1. Sound health.
2. Peace of mind.
3. A labour of love of your own choice.
4. Freedom from fear and worry.
5. A positive mental attitude.
6. Material riches of your own choice and quantity.
In the sealed envelope labeled Penalties is this list of the prices one must pay for neglecting to take possession of one’s own mind:
1. Ill health.
2. Fear and worry.
3. Indecision and doubt.
4. Frustration and discouragement throughout life.
5. Poverty and want.
6. And a whole flock of evils consisting of envy, greed, jealousy, anger, hatred and superstition.
Decide today which of the two envelopes you would want to open. The choice is yours. But remember the famous poem about Life which goes like this:
I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wages I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.
(Culled from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, 1937:22)