Alan McGuiness relates that in 1875 a sickly child was born in Upper Alsace, who was slow to read and write and was a poor scholar. But as he grew up he made himself master subjects that were particularly difficult, such as Hebrew. In music, he turned out to be a genuine prodigy, playing the organ at eight when his legs were scarcely long enough to reach the pedals. At nine he substituted for the regular organist in a church service.

His name was Albert Schweitzer, and everyone knows how by early manhood he had several professional lives proceeding concurrently. At the University of Strasbourg he earned his first Ph.D. in philosophy then went on to win doctorates in theology and music theory. By the time he was 30 he had a flourishing career as a concert organist and was publishing a stream of books. But then he abruptly stopped his academic career in order to study medicine and devote the rest of his life to being a missionary. This had begun when by chance he read a magazine article about the Congo. “While we are preaching to these people about religion,” the article said, “they are suffering and dying before our eyes from physical maladies.”

Schweitzer had received his calling, and he began to lay plans to go to Africa. Friends protested: if the aborigines of Africa needed help, let Schweitzer raise money for their assistance. He certainly was not called upon to wash lepers with his own hands.

There will always be such people who seem to find it their calling to flatten our dreams and diminish our lives. But there will always be a few, thankfully, who will encourage our ideals and gladly join us in our goals. When Schweitzer fell in love with Helen Bresslau, the daughter of a Jewish historian, he bluntly proposed: “I am studying to be a doctor for the people of Africa. Would you spend the rest of your life with me in the jungle?” And she answered, “I shall become a nurse. Then how could you go without me?” And on Good Friday 1913, the two of them left for the French Equatorial Africa. For more than 50 years he served there, eventually to become a Nobel laureate and a legend.

Source: Alan Loy McGuiness, 1985, Bringing Out The Best In People, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing, p.90-91

“Success makes success, as money makes money.”

Chamfort (1741-1794)

I love those who love me,

and those who seek me find me.

With me are riches and honour,

enduring wealth and prosperity.

My fruit is better than fine gold;

what I yield surpasses choice silver.

I walk in the way of righteousness,

along the paths of justice,

bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me

and making their treasuries full.

Proverbs 8:17-21 NIVUK

The only place in the world where achievement comes before commitment and where success comes before work is in a dictionary.

Vidal Sasoon (international hair stylist, designer and entrepreneur)

S CCESS can’t be spelt without U.

Success is a matter of choice not chance!

May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.

Psalm 90:17 NIVUK

Those who trust in the LORD will prosper.

Proverbs 28:25 NIV

Here are the four secret words for success: Go The Extra Mile.

Alan McGuiness tells the story of Bette Nesmith, a single parent with a nine-year old son, who worked in a Dallas Bank. She seemed rather average with no particular promise for big things. She was glad to have the secretarial job – $300 a month was very good for 1951 – but she did have a problem: how to correct the errors she made with her new electric typewriter. Nesmith has been a freelance artist, and artists never correct by erasing, they simply paint over the error. So she concocted a fluid that she could use to paint over her typing errors.

Before long all the secretaries in the building were using what she then called “Mistake Out.” An office supply dealer encouraged her to manufacture the paint, but marketing agencies weren’t impressed, and companies (among them IBM) turned her down cold. But the secretaries continued to like the product, so Nesmith’s kitchen became her first manufacturing facility. Orders began to trickle in, and she hired a college student to help her sell the product. But it was not easy for two inexperienced saleswomen. “People will never paint out their mistakes,” a dealer would say. Records show that from August 1959 to April 1960, the company’s total income was $1,142.71, and its expenses were $1,217.35. “I don’t know how I made it,” Bette said. She worked part-time as a secretary, managing to buy groceries and save $200 to pay a chemist to develop a fast-drying formula.

With the improved product, Nesmith began taking her little white bottles around the country. She stopped in small towns and big cities. Upon arriving in a city, she wrote, “I’d get the phone book and write down the names of dealers and then call them. We’d go to each office supply store and leave 12 bottles.” Eventually orders began to pour in and the Liquid Paper Corporation began to fly. When she sold the company in 1979, the tiny white bottles were earning $3.5 million annually on sales of $38 million, and Gillette paid $47.5 million for the firm.

Source: Alan Loy McGuiness, 1985, Bringing Out The Best In People, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing, p.102-103

“Success is doing something that makes you say, “Nothing I ever did made me feel this good.”

Elizabeth Dole

“If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counsellor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.”

Joseph Addison (1672-1719), English essayist and poet

Chasing success is like running after the wind; you can never quite catch it. So, don’t chase success; instead, attract success by doing attractive things.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them, “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty second’s worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

by Rudyard Kipling

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another, with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

The Price for Success: There’s a story told about a man, dying of thirst, who staggers up to a disused well on an old desert road. The man begins to pump the handle like crazy but there is no compression and nothing happens. Just then he notices that there is a note in a bottle lying beside the well. The note reads:

“This well is in good working order and will produce ample drinking water to satisfy your needs. You just have to prime the pump first to be able to get at the water. Look underneath the white rock beside the well and there is another bottle buried in the sand with just enough water for you to prime the pump. Pour all of the contents from this bottle into the chamber by the pump handle and then continue to pump furiously until the water flows. Don’t think that it won’t work – it will. And don’t drink any of the water in the bottle – there is only enough to prime the pump! Just have faith, follow these instructions and the well will deliver plenty of water. Afterwards, please refill the bottle with fresh water and put it back under the rock for the next traveller.” – Signed, ‘Indian’ Joe.

What price, success? Faith; commitment; the will to win; desire; willing to take risks. The above story illustrates the need for all these qualities, but also something else: the readiness to accept advice, to help others and to always leave something of value behind you, wherever you leave.

May he give you the desire of your heart

and make all your plans succeed.

We will shout for joy when you are victorious

and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the LORD grant all your requests.

Psalm 20:4-5 NIV1984 Edition

“Your success in life will be in direct proportion to what you do after you do what you are expected to do.” – Brian Tracy

Success is speaking words of praise,
In cheering other people’s ways,
In doing just the best you can,
With every task and every plan,
It’s silence when your speech would hurt,
Politeness when your neighbour’s curt,
It’s deafness when the scandal flows,
And sympathy with other’s woes,
It’s loyalty when duty calls,
It’s courage when disaster falls,
It’s patience when the hours are long,
And perseverance all along.


“Success is the child of drudgery and perseverance. It cannot be coaxed or bribed; pay the price and it’s yours.”

Orison Swett Marden

Some time ago the following experiment was undertaken at a marine aquarium. A savage barracuda was placed into a large tank of water. The tank was then partitioned down the middle with another piece of glass, and a mullet fish was placed into the other side of the tank. Immediately the barracuda tried to attack the mullet but half way across the tank, the onslaught was abruptly and painfully cut short by the wall of partitioning glass. The barracuda recovered and tried again, and again, and again, but each time he bumped his snout against the glass. Eventually, the barracuda learnt that chasing mullet fish was a painful experience and so it gave up trying. A little while later the glass partition was removed but the barracuda would still only swim up to the point where the barrier had been, then it would turn around and swim back again. The barracuda had conditioned itself to believe it could not succeed and so it gave up trying.

It is the same with a lot people. The fact is you can condition your mind to accept that you won’t succeed – just like the barracuda – but, conversely, you can also condition your mind to overcome your own self-imposed limitations.

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Discover Your True Potential

Let me tell you about Dame Catherine Cookson (1906-1998). An illegitimate child born in the slums of Jarrow in the North East of England, she never knew her father; she believed her grandparents were her parents and that her mother was her sister. She worked in a laundry until she married at the age of 22. She was unable to have children, and this, on top of her deprived childhood and the fact that whenever she heard the word ‘illegitimate’ or ‘bastard’ caused knots in her stomach, resulted in her having a nervous breakdown at the age of 39. But Catherine Cookson then went on to spend over fifty years writing more than one hundred books, which to date have been translated into 17 different languages and have sold over 100 million copies. That is the equivalent to selling over 5000 books a day, every day for 50 years. And that figures continues to grow to this day.

I heard a story about a businessman, on a trip to America, who came across one of those shoeshine stands that nowadays you tend to only see in the old movies. Above the stand was a sign and in big letters the words, “Smiley’s Shoe Shine – prices from $3 to $6.” Being a foreigner and noticing the dust on his shoes, the businessman decided to take in the experience and have his shoes polished by an expert. Reflecting on his experience afterwards, the businessman said, “Just how anyone can get so excited about cleaning a pair of shoes, I really don’t know, but Smiley was a man with a passion and a man who lived up to his name. He saw his job, not so much as someone who simply polished shoes, but as someone who had the opportunity to polish up his customer’s day. He whistled and sang as he worked and we chatted away amiably about this and that. By the time he had finished we had become friends. I asked Smiley how much I owed him and he told me, “$3”. I then asked him why his sign said prices from $3 to $6. Smiley’s reply was priceless (excuse the pun): This is what he said, “Well, I get to meet a lot of folks. Some of them have a good attitude and so I charge them $3, but others have a bad attitude and so I charge them $6.” Smiley then flashed his pearly whites and grinned, “You see, Mister, some people just don’t realise how much a bad attitude costs!”

“Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

– Dr Viktor E. Frankl, Nazi death camp survivor, author of Man’s Search For Meaning

“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.”

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British prime minister

The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 30:9-10 NIV

Success is a journey, and it’s all up hill all the way.

R. Ian Seymour

“The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (American poet, 1807-1882)

Many great people began life in the poorest and most humble of homes, with little education and no advantages. Thomas Edison was a newsboy on trains. Andrew Carnegie started work at $4 a month, John D. Rockefeller at $6 a week. The remarkable thing about Abraham Lincoln was not that he was born in a log cabin, but that he got out of the log cabin.

Demosthenes, the greatest orator of the ancient world, stuttered! The first time he tried to make a public speech, he was laughed off the rostrum. Julius Caesar was an epileptic. Napoleon was of humble parentage and far from being born a genius (he stood forty-sixth in his class at the Military Academy in a class of sixty-five). Beethoven was deaf, as was Thomas Edison. Charles Dickens was lame; so was Handel. Homer was blind; Plato was a hunchback; Sir Walter Scott was paralyzed.

What gave these great individuals the stamina to overcome severe setbacks and become successful? Each person had an inner dream that lit a fire which could not be extinguished.

John Maxwell

John C. Maxwell, 1993, Developing The Leader Within You, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, p.145-146

A man reaps what he sows.

Galatians 6:7

‘What is Success?’

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave this world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child, a garden
patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t let success go to your head nor failure to your heart.

“Genius [success] is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Thomas Edison (1847-1931), inventor

Success is a state of mind

“I owe my success to the fact that I never had a clock in my workroom.”

Thomas Edison

“Success is relative: Once you have it, all the relatives come!”


The road to success is always under construction.

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own.”

Henry Ford

“The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do without a thought of fame. If it comes at all it will come because it is deserved not because it is sought after.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), American poet

The main difference between a success and a failure is this: a success is a failure that kept on trying!

“The most important single ingredient to the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” – Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States

Success simply cannot be attained by oneself. Think how difficult it is to find a rich hermit.

If you stick around turkeys you’ll never fly like an eagle.

“To succeed you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.”

Anita Roddick, founder of Body Shop

“Success covers over a multitude of blunders.”

Henry Wheeler

“Success is the result of good judgment; good judgment the result of experience and experience is usually the result of bad judgment.” – Anon

“The secret of success is to do the common duty uncommonly well.”

John D. Rockefeller, Jn., (1874-1960), billionaire businessman and philanthropist

Success is achieved through failure.

John Maxwell defines the success journey in these terms: knowing, growing and sowing.

  • Knowing your purpose in life.
  • Growing to reach your potential.
  • Sowing seeds that benefit others.


If you want a thing bad enough
To go out and fight for it,
Work day and night for it,
Give up your time and your peace and your sleep for it;
If only the desire of it
Makes you quite mad enough
Never to tire of it,
Makes you hold all things tawdry and cheap for it;
If life seems all empty and useless without it
And all that you scheme and you dream is about it,
If gladly you’ll sweat for it,
Fret for it,
Plan for it,
Lose all your terror of God or man for it,
If you’ll simply go after the thing that you want,
With all your capacity,
Strength and sagacity,
Faith, hope and confidence, stern pertinacity,
If neither cold poverty, famished and gaunt,
Nor sickness nor pain
Of body or brain
Can turn you away from the thing that you want,
If dogged and grim you besiege and beset it,
… You’ll get it!

by Berton Braley

“I can’t really tell you the key to my success. I never got a degree, and I’ve only ever worked half days my entire life. I guess my advice would be to do the same: work half days every day. And it doesn’t matter which half you work; the first twelve hours or the second twelve hours!”

Kemin Wilson (founder of Holiday Inns)

“I owe whatever success I have achieved, by and large, to my ability to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am.”

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), US steel manufacturer and philanthropist

“The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.”

Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM

“Success is 99 percent failure.”

Soichiro Honda, founder of the motor company

“If you want to succeed, under promise and over deliver.”

Tom Peters, author and management expert

“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire!”

Reggie Leach, professional hockey player

“Often when people ask how I became successful, I reply, ‘I just went to work every day, did the best I could to advance the cause, and trusted God.’”

Rich DeVos, co-founder of Amway Corporation

Three businessmen were discussing the definition of success and what it would mean for them to feel that they had ‘arrived’. The first one said, “I’d consider myself a success if I was summoned to 10 Downing Street for a private consultation with the Prime Minister.” The second chipped in, “My definition of success is to be called to Number 10 for a private meeting with the Prime Minister, then the telephone hot line rings during our discussion and the Prime Minister ignores it.” Finally the third one gave his opinion: “No you’ve both got it wrong!” he said, “You’re a success when you are in the middle of private talks with the Prime Minister, the hot line rings, he answers it and then says, ‘It’s for you!’”

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Discover Your True Potential