Words of Wisdom

Saturday, March 28, 2009

You have to Start with a Penny

To accomplish anything worth accomplishing, to achieve your dreams and or goals, to create success, you don’t have to do impossible, extraordinary, superhuman things. But you have to do something. You have to start with a penny.

Success doesn’t come from nowhere, it can’t be fabricated or pretended out of thin air. It comes from a very small, tiny beginning-but there has to be a beginning. That beginning is the thing people miss, the thing they don’t see. And they don’t see it because it’s so tiny, it’s almost invisible.

A dead-broke, struggling young English teacher named Stephen had started writing a story about a troubled high-school girl. Within a handful of pages, he realized the story was not working out and tossed the pages in the trash. He asked himself, why add yet one more to his large and growing stack of rejection notices?

The next day, as Stephen’s wife was doing some straightening up, she bent down to empty his trash basket and happened to notice the warped little bunch of papers. She straightened them out and read them and took them to Stephen. She thought he maybe had something worth finishing.

She was right. He did finish it, and the paperback rights sold nearly a half a million dollars. What’s more, his story of the troubled school girl named Carrie launched Stephen King’s career: he became the most successful writer in the twentieth century.

What Tabitha King recognized in the trash may have been a tarnished penny, but still, it was a penny.

One cold day in December 1955, an unknown forty-two year old seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama decided she’d had enough. She was tired after a long day’s work. Most of all, she was tired of being treated the way she was and tired of every other person of her color being treated that way, too. So when she was told to give up her bus seat to white passenger, she refused – even when the bus driver threatened her with arrest.

It was no idle warning; she was arrested, then convicted and fined for violating a city ordinance. Her case was a catalyst for the formation of a new civil rights organization. On the same day of the woman’s hearing, the newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association elected a young and relatively unknown minister named Martin Luther King Jr., to be its spokesperson, launching a movement that over the next decade abolished legal segregation and radically transformed the face of the nation.

Rosa Parks was a penny.

A Penny for your Thoughts…

What if you were able to improve yourself, today, just three-tenths of one percent? That’s a 0.003 improvement – a very small effort indeed. So slight, in fact, you might have a hard time even knowing how to measure it.

Now, what if you did that again tomorrow, and the next day, and kept it up everyday for the next year? Remember, you’re just adding on another three-tenths of one percent each day. And here’s what will happen. The first day you’ll improve by 0.003, so little it will probably be impossible to notice. The second day, your improvement will be 0.006; the next day, 0.003, almost a full one percent. And by the end of the year, you will have improved by one hundred percent.


You will be twice what you are today – twice as fit, twice as wealthy, twice as skilled, twice as happy… twice as whatever it is you’ve been working on, in what ever areas you apply your daily three-tenths-percent effort. Twice the you, in just one year!

If you give yourself a year to do it, you can become twice the person you are today. Imagine having twice the net worth, twice the personal relationships, twice the health. Making twice the positive impact on the world. Having twice as much fun and enjoying twice the quality of life.

How could you possibly accomplish this? By trying twice as hard? Working twice as many hours? Have twice as positive an attitude? No – by improving three-tenths of one percent at a time.

Every day, in every moment, you get to exercise choices that will determine whether or not you will become a great person, living a great life. Greatness is not something predetermined, pre-destined or carved into your fate by forces beyond your control. Greatness is always in the moment of the decision.

But you have to start with a penny. And that’s the great and tragic irony of it, the sad and terrible tale of the ninety-five percent: that little penny seems so insignificant, so small, so silly… why even bother to bend over and pick it up? After all…

Can you imagine walking into your bank to deposit a single penny into a savings account? Can you imagine looking in your savings account, deposit box or piggy bank, and finding a balance of $0.01? it might as well be a balance of zero, right? How much different is there, right? I mean, we’re talking about one penny! What could you buy with a penny?

You just might be able to buy financial freedom for the rest of your life.

What do you think?


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