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Success is not final; failure is not fatal

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YOUTHS-WITH-PURPOSE-4-6-16-17-up: Never, ever give-up
Henry Ford, the ‘father of modern automobiles’ said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” Ford made us realize that we are the principal factor in determining how far we can go in life’s journey. In life, great works are performed not by strength, but by persistence. It is an unchallengeable truth that those who give up, don’t go up! In the epic film, MERLIN, the young Merlin was given a piece of advice by a wise figure, one that eventually guided him through the vagaries and vicissitude of his epic journey: “Only when the way ahead seems impossible will you have found it.”

Failure is an opportunity to start over more intelligently; in order to be trailblazers, we must develop an infinite capacity to ignore what others think “cannot be done”. Alexander Graham Bell once said, “What this power is, I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.”

The man credited for the invention of the telephone Mr Philip Reis, a German school-teacher and electrician, practically built the telephone. The only problem he had was the adjustment of one little screw, which was off by one-thousandth of an inch. That one thing kept him away from being celebrated years later. Bell discovered Reis’ error, and all he did was to adjust that tiny screw a quarter of a turn and the rest is history!

“Ninety per cent of those who fail are not actually defeated; they simply quit”-Paul J. Meyer
Reis didn’t know he was so close to victory when he gave up. Had he persisted, he could have made that discovery. Reis eventually took his case to court, thinking that the world would sympathise with him for being defrauded of an invention that was his own. However, he was shocked and disappointed as Judge Lowel, who, in rendering his famous judgement, decided that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

The Supreme Court noted: “A century of Reis would never have produced a speaking telephone….”. Reis missed his ‘destiny’ just by an inch! We are living in a world where almost doesn’t count: To almost enter heaven is to remain in hell, to almost pass an examination is to fail. Nobody ever remembers the team that almost won. Great men start when others have given up.

One of the drinks that have actually overcome stiff competitions to penetrate the soft-drink market is Seven-Up. It is good to know that the die-hard nature of this global drink is linked to the “NEVER-GIVE UP” spirit of its founding fathers. I remember growing up with the appetizing taste of the soft drink; the anticipatory belching process after taking a bottle was so refreshing, invigorating and somewhat curative, leaving us back then with wet-eyes. As I chronicled the rise of this special brand of fizzy drink, I realize that some drinks had actually sunk into oblivion because of the overwhelming competition from soft-drink giants in the industry.

I remembered with nostalgia some popular products that held sway in the Nigerian market of those days; drinks like Dr Pepper, Green Sands Shandy, Limca, Goldspot, Tandi Guarana, Parle Soda, Biba and the likes, which had seemingly disappeared from the Nigerian market. I was always fascinated by the Limca advert back in those days that I could still remember singing it with a bunch of my buddies:

When you are having fun together
Music and drink together
All you need is a drink to get the groove together
All you need is a drink limca! All you need is a drink limca !

The tenacious story of the undaunted liquid that has withstood serial opposition started with one man. Charles Leiper Grigg was the inventor of Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda, better known by its later name, 7-Up. He invented the drink in October 1929. After several trials, Grigg eventually settled on a formula that not only tasted great but also seemed to have medicinal benefits. He spent two years testing several formulas before he settled on a formula that he deemed to be the most refreshing and thirst quenching. He called the drink, Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda. The name was difficult to say much less to sell to the public, so it was soon changed to 7-Up.

A man was interviewing the said man behind the invention of 7-up solution: “Sir, why the name 7-up” asked his interviewer. The man looked him straight in the eye and smiled. “We did all we could do to make this solution, but six times we failed woefully. We lost so much money and zeal but we just decided let’s try one more time. We got the solution the 7th time and that is why we gave it the name 7-Up. It wasn’t until the 7th attempt that we finally got the solution. We were down the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th attempts but we never gave up and at the 7th trial we were up – Seven-up! Charles Leiper Grigg refused to give up on his ‘magic’ liquid and his tenacity eventually produced 7-Up!

“There is only one thing that is failure and it is quitting”-Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison failed 999 times before he finally got the result that brought about the light bulb. When Edison was asked how he surmounted consecutive failures to bring about the light bulb, he enthusiastically said, “I didn’t fail 999 times, I only realized 999 times of how not to make a light bulb!” No wonder he once said, “Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.” He became a beacon of light to the world, for, when Edison died, the lights were switched off as a tribute to his legendary life of persistence!

One of the former presidents of the United States of America, Bill Clinton said, “As long as you don’t quit, you’ve always got a chance”. Quitting is a permanent ‘solution’ to a temporary problem. The next time you hold a bottle of Seven-Up, don’t ever forget that the content of the bottle was a product of someone’s tenacity and undaunted resolve not to give up on what he believed in after several trials. Quitting is never the same as failing. One is temporal, the other is permanent.

Persistence conquers resistance. Our approach to failure will determine how long we will remain in it; great people see failure as feedback while common people see failure as setback. Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seems to be no hope at all. Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them”. Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. Real courage is the discovery that you may not win and trying when you know you can lose.

Courage is the most important of all virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. Thomas A. Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Failing doesn’t make you a failure, quitting does. To the youths, never quit, because once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit; be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. Don’t ever give up on your dreams and aspirations. Don’t be afraid to fail because only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly, because our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.

Life has two rules:
#1 Never quit #2 Always remember rule #1!


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