Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 23, 2011


Success may require hanging by your fingernails

      Successful living is impossible without perseverance. In any worthwhile endeavor it is usually the lack of resolve that results in failure.

        The word “persevere” is not a commonly used word. But our alternatives for it help us remember to persevere if we hope to reach our goal.  The most common substitute for it may be the frequent admonition, “Hang in there.” That is how we conclude many conversations when a friend needs encouragement to “keep up the good work.”

        To persevere is to refuse to quit or give up. Thomas Edison finally produced a workable electric light bulb because he refused to give up. Walt Disney stuck with his Mickey Mouse dreams and you know the rest of that story.

        Winston Churchill inspired the people of England with his famous call to fight in the fields, the streets, the hills, and “never surrender.” Educated as a child at Harrow School in England, Churchill returned there to deliver a speech that endeared the prime minister to people everywhere:

        “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

        What good advice the young men heard from an old man who was by then known for his unwillingness to give up in England’s desperate fight for freedom. He was convincing because he had walked the walk!

        Ben Franklin called perseverance the mother of good luck. Thomas Carlyle said it was patience concentrated. An Arabian proverb called it the greatest of all teachers.

        I learned a lot about perseverance from my parents. Dad had a certain doggedness that everybody admired. Every day he got up at 4:30 in the morning and worked till dark. When he tackled a job, he stayed with it until it was done. I never heard him say anything like,  “Son, when you take on a tough task, stay the course.” He was a man of few words. But I learned from his example how important it is to stay the course in every challenge. 

          Mama canned vegetables like there was no tomorrow. One day she spilled boiling paraffin on her right arm and hand. The injury was so severe that she could not use her hand for months. But that slowed her down for only a few days. Slowly she learned to write with her left hand and steadfastly kept in touch with her many relatives and pen pals. Mama’s “stick-to-itiveness” taught all her children how to persevere in tough times.

        A good friend once gave me the honor of persuading him not to give up when he felt like quitting. He overcame his failure, got back on course, and became a credit to his profession. To celebrate our friendship he gave me a framed poem that hangs on my wall to remind me of the value of perseverance. Some say the author is unknown. Others attribute it to Edgar A. Guest. Whoever its author, the poem sums up what I am trying to say:


When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
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.

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 had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is 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 worse,
That you must not quit.

If you are tempted to give up today, in doing a hard job that is worth doing, hang in there. Hang by your fingernails, if you must, until help comes. Believe in yourself. It may be hard but you can do it. Refuse to quit. One day you will be glad that you kept hanging on. In the end, success may lie more in the struggle than in the achievement. +++