"If at first you don't succeed, try try again" - so goes the famous maxim. But how many of us have at some point in our lives been guilty of giving up in the face of repeated setbacks? Even the most resilient human being could be forgiven for throwing in the towel after one defeat too many, but the fact is that miracles can and do happen if you just keep on picking yourself up off the canvas and refuse to say die. Eight years ago my life was in tatters and I was rock bottom. I had nowhere to turn and couldn't envisage any way that my situation was ever going to improve. Now I'm living the life of my dreams, doing a job I love and surrounded daily by amazing, magical people who enrich my life in ways I could never have imagined. If you'd told me a decade ago that I'd be doing what I'm now doing, living life to the full and loving every minute of it, I never would have believed it possible. But the fact is that our best opportunities often come to us disguised as a crisis. The point when we're at our lowest ebb is often the very point when we're actually closest to the big breakthrough we've always craved... if we can just muster the strength to keep on going for that one final push through the pain barrier. I'm not ashamed to admit that I sunk so low in 2011 that there were moments when I seriously contemplated ending my own life. Thank God I didn't. If I had, I never would have got to experience this incredible new life I'm leading now. The turnaround in my personal fortunes and circumstances has been so dramatic and seismic that it's been tantamount to a total rebirth - hence the reason why I named my coaching and therapy business Phoenix to tie-in with the mythological bird's reputation as symbolising death and resurrection. The moral of all this is quite simple - never give up. KEEP GOING! Because you just never know when you're a mere three feet from gold.
Some of the most famous names in history have experienced repeated devastating setbacks before finally going on to achieve their dreams. What sets these people apart is their ability to keep on trying, even when all appears to be lost and the odds against success seem insurmountable. When inventor Thomas Edison was asked about his 10,000 unsuccessful attempts to create the electric light bulb, he famously replied: "I have not failed 10,000 times – I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” Today, thanks to Edison’s version of the light bulb, we can freely enjoy electricity and illumination at night without having to use unsustainable materials like candles and oil. What’s striking about Edison was that he didn’t see giving up as an option, but instead saw failure as an opportunity to learn and do better. Undoubtedly, Edison is one of the greatest minds and inventors in recent history. But he didn't become a success overnight – or even in a decade for that matter. He did it through sheer hard work, and a spirit that was impervious to failure.
Edison is not alone in his refusal to accept setbacks as final defeats. As a young man, Abraham Lincoln went to war a captain and returned a private. Afterwards, he was a failure as a businessman. As a lawyer in Springfield, he was too impractical and temperamental to be a success. He turned to politics and was defeated in his first bid for the legislature, again defeated in his first attempt to be nominated for congress, defeated in his application to be commissioner of the General Land Office, defeated in the senatorial election of 1854, defeated in his efforts for the vice-presidency in 1856, and defeated in the senatorial election of 1858. At about that time, he wrote in a letter to a friend, "I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth." Physicist Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was the age of four and didn't read until he was seven. His parents thought he was "sub-normal," and one of his teachers described him as "mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams." He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. Business magnate Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas." He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff. Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher called him "hopeless as a composer" and yet he wrote five of his greatest symphonies while completely deaf.
Author J.K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before finding one prepared to take on the manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. She had previously battled crippling depression following the death of her mother from multiple sclerosis, followed by a divorce, financial struggles and the pressures of being a single mum. She refused to give up but instead channeled her emotions into writing the Harry Potter series. Eight films, one theme park, and countless video games, board games, and products later, Harry Potter is one of the highest grossing franchises of all time. Rowling, who was living on state benefits while she wrote the first novel, is now a billionaire in dollars.
The lesson to be learned from all these inspirational stories is the importance of never giving up as you just never know when your greatest victory or success is just around the corner.
American self-help guru Napoleon Hill, author of the best-selling book Think And Grow Rich, was fond of telling the true story of a man who was caught by the gold fever in the gold-rush days, and went west to dig and grow rich. After weeks of hard labour with a pick and shovel, he was eventually rewarded by the discovery of shining gold ore but needed machinery to bring it to the surface. Quietly, he covered up the mine, retraced his footsteps to his home in Williamsburg, Maryland, and told his relatives and a few neighbours of the “strike.” They got together money for the needed machinery, had it shipped and went back to work the mine. The first car of ore was mined, and shipped to a smelter. The returns proved they had one of the richest mines in Colorado! A few more cars of that ore would clear their debts, then would come the big killing in profits. Down went the drills! Then the vein of gold ore disappeared! They had come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold was no longer there. They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again - all to no avail. Finally, they decided to quit. They sold the machinery to a scrap dealer for a few hundred dollars and took the train back home. But the scrap merchant was no fool. He called in a mining engineer to look at the mine and do some calculating. The engineer advised that the project had failed because the owners were not familiar with “fault lines.” His calculations showed that the vein would be found just three feet from where they had stopped drilling! The “Junk” man took millions of dollars in ore from the mine, because he knew enough to seek expert counsel before giving up.
The "three feet from gold" story was at the forefront of my mind on Sunday when something rather remarkable happened in the form of a bona fide sporting fairytale. A few weeks ago I published a blog about my boyhood hero Jimmy White and how he continues to battle away on the professional snooker circuit, undaunted by the pain of losing in six world championship finals. In the article (The Whirlwind - The People's Champion, Now and Forever), I paid tribute to the Londoner's incredible ability to bounce back from adversity, his dogged refusal to abandon his dreams and his continued pursuit of snooker's Holy Grail - the world championship crown at Sheffield's famous Crucible Theatre. Incredibly, within just six weeks of me penning that blog, the 57-year-old Whirlwind finally laid his Crucible hoodoo to rest by lifting the ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship at the very venue which has caused him so much agony over the past four decades. His 5-3 final victory over Darren Morgan on Sunday night was White's second world seniors title following his victory in the inaugural event in Bradford in 2010, but this was the first time the tournament had been staged at the Crucible - the 'home of snooker' - making his victory on this occasion all the sweeter. The Londoner claimed the championship in style, making breaks of 51, 53 and 86 to edge out 2012 seniors champion Morgan, who had disposed of White's old foe Stephen Hendry in the quarter-finals. After lifting the claret jug and pocketing the £25,000 winner's cheque, a delighted White tweeted simply: "Got there in the end".
He had earlier beaten qualifiers Rhydian Richards and Stuart Watson before seeing off Thai legend James Wattana in a high-quality semi-final. The Whirlwind said after his victory: "It sounds strange to be world champion at the Crucible. I have been playing really well, I lost the form on Thursday coming here and today I managed to get my game together and I felt very strong. I am delighted to win because [Darren] Morgan plays all of the time, he is a top amateur, so he is very sharp. I knew I had a tough match, it looked like it was going to go 4-4 so it could have been anybody’s and sometimes you have got to take these opportunities." White credited former world number two Tony Knowles with having detected and corrected a flaw in his stance. "Tony Knowles said to me that I wasn’t standing right and that my back leg needed to lock like years ago. I actually looked at a couple of videos last night and he was right, my back leg used to be straight. It gave me a lot of confidence today and I potted some real good long balls. A great example was the red to get in to win the match, you are even money to get them anyway but it was a great cueing shot."
Thousands of people saw 20 players from 13 countries take part in the competition, including Yorkshire’s only-ever world champion Joe Johnson, seven-time winner Stephen Hendry and 1991 world champion John Parrott. Competitors also included Willie Thorne, Tony Knowles, 1980 world champion Cliff Thorburn and Dennis Taylor but it was Jimmy who claimed victory – 38 years after making his debut at the Crucible. The story of his quest for snooker's Holy Grail - the world professional title - has become the stuff of legend. The Whirlwind suffered the agony of being runner-up at the Crucible in six World Championship finals during his peak years, including five in a row from 1990 to 1994. His first came way back in 1984 when he was edged out 18-16 by Steve Davis but the closest he came was in his last in 1994 when heartbreakingly missing a black ball mid-break during the deciding frame against Stephen Hendry, who beat him in four finals. Sunday's emotional win cements White's place as the most successful player and prolific winner on the senior tour. Earlier this year he also lifted the World Senior Six-Red Championship. How ironic after all the heartbreak White has experienced in world championships over the course of his long career that he should now find himself the simultaneous holder of not one, but two world titles at the age of 57!
Jason Francis, chairman of ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Tour, described Sunday night's Crucible final as an "emotional" occasion. He said, “It was a fantastic event. I can’t believe how many people in Sheffield came to support it. I’ve done more than 200 shows and I always introduce Jimmy White as somebody who has never won at the Crucible so it was very emotional to see him win.” More than 5,000 spectators took in the action at the Crucible over the four days and Sheffield was once again broadcast across the country and around the world, thanks to TV and internet streaming services. The event also saw specialist sessions for World Disability Billiards And Snooker Association. Francis added, “We sold nearly 5,000 tickets so it was a very good start and we want to build on that. It was also incredibly important we were able to showcase the women’s and disability games. They got to go on TV and play at the Crucible which they would never have thought they’d be able to. That was as pleasing as seeing Jimmy win in many ways.” Francis said he hoped to hold the tournament on the same week in August 2020 and said tickets would go on sale through the Crucible Theatre "in the coming months".
Like the achievements of Edison and J.K. Rowling, Jimmy White's remarkable Crucible victory provides hope and inspiration to anyone who's ever taken a beating and come up short in pursuit of their goals. The message sent out by his success is clear - never give up. No matter how tough things get, no matter how many times you get knocked down, if you keep on getting back up and trying again then sooner or later you're going to break down that door. You just never know when you might be a mere three feet from gold. As no less a figure than Jesus himself said, "All things are possible to him who believes". Here at Phoenix we're great believers in the power of pushing on in the face of adversity and we have a wealth of tools at our disposal to help you achieve your dreams, no matter how distant or difficult the task may appear. If you need help picking yourself up off the canvas and motivating yourself to keep going in pursuit of your goals and dreams, then visit our website at phoenixcoaching.co.uk or drop us an email at email@example.com to find our how we can help you unlock the door to lasting success.