Two frogs were living in a pond near a farm. One bright, warm, sunny day they decided to explore and hopped into the milking sheds. There, they accidentally slipped into a large bucket half filled with cream. The sides were steep and slick, making it impossible to climb out, so they tried to leap up and out. Unable to do this, they continued to swim in the cream until they became exhausted.
“It’s impossible!” the larger frog said, “We’ll never get out of here. There’s no point.” The smaller frog tried to encourage his companion, but after a few more minutes, the larger frog gave up and gradually sank to the bottom of the bucket.
However, the smaller frog said to himself, “I’m not giving up,” and he continued to swim, paddle and circle in the cream. He did this for some time and found that the cream was gradually becoming thicker and thicker, making it harder and harder to swim.
Little by little, the cream turned to butter until it was solid enough for the frog to jump out of the bucket. His relief was immense, his joy overwhelming and his confidence colossal!
That story is universal, making its way around the world and across the ages. It’s timeless in its appeal to children and adults, women and men, because of the simple principle it teaches: Never give up. Because, like the persistent frog, one never knows the moment when everything may change for the better.
Here are some suggestions to help you face down challenges, overcome adversities, conquer problems, banish self-doubts, meet your goals and enjoy a more constructive, dynamic life.
Anurag Harsh, a management consultant and author of several books including Grow: Develop Yourself for Success, says, “A positive attitude is not fanciful; rather it is a driving force. It is the desire to move forward, to persevere when others are retreating in the face of change and hardship.” So don’t sabotage yourself by indulging in negative thinking. Recently, Oprah Magazine asked readers, “What person in your life has made the world a more positive place?” Among the published responses was one from a woman who wrote: “My dad. While he was working in a store, a young Japanese-American man came to apply for an entry level job. No-one would hire him, but my father gave him a chance. For nearly 50 years, Yosh worked hard and helped the company expand to seven stores—and he ended up as the president of the company.” That young man, Yosh, is an impressive model of someone who remained positive. In spite of anger directed toward Japanese Americans in the years after World War II, and in spite of being turned down for work many times, he continued applying for jobs until a door opened for him.
Ignore the naysayers
One key to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s enormous success as both a bodybuilder and a movie icon is his ability to discount the negative when it came his way. While seeking movie roles, he explains, he encountered one negative response after another: “You’re absolutely crazy,” he was told. “With that accent, you’re never going to get into movies. People like to hear John Wayne talk. Look at your body. You’re overdeveloped. And what’s with this Schwarzenschnitzel name? Forget it—it’s never going to happen.” However, Schwarzenegger says, “I didn’t listen. I put my five hours a day into acting classes and English classes, worked hard, and eventually Conan the Barbarian came along.” Earlier in his life, he had to tune out his father who felt his gym work was a waste of time. “My father was absolutely negative about all the weight training. He felt that ‘if you want to get strong why don’t you get an axe and chop wood?’ He didn’t get it. Every time I went to the gym, he shook his head and was not supportive at all.” Of course, after Schwarzenegger won competition after competition, including Mr Universe and Mr Olympia, his dad understood.
Use inspiring quotes
The Bible promotes the value of determination. Read and recite to yourself these kinds of inspiring verses to strengthen yourself emotionally, mentally and spiritually:
- “Stand firm, and you will win life” (Luke 21:19).
- “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
- “Brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
- “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:9, 10).
- “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9).
- “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4).
Steve Jobs said, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” So don’t give into the temptation to settle for significantly less than you desire or to lower the goals you set for yourself.
After completing his PhD in clinical psychology, a young man was offered an attractive position on the faculty of his university. “The new job would bring me prestige and a decent pay cheque, and the prospect was mighty tempting,” he says. However, upon more reflection, the man realised that, though the position had great potential, “it will still not come close to my ultimate goal to build my own business helping people.” Dr Phil McGraw—yes, that Dr Phil—turned down the job offer rather than settle for less than his ambition. Based on his experience, he advises: “If an option looks good on paper but it’s not what you really want, then it’s not the one for you.”
Remember that many highly accomplished people are often described as being an “overnight success,” but in reality they worked for decades before attaining recognition. That understanding may be the source of Leo Tolstoy’s wisdom: “the two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
Consider the life experience of opera singer Angela Brown. Her childhood dream was to become a singer. Her father, Walter, who worked in vehicle manufacturing, advised her: “Angie, I know you like to sing, but you have to have something to fall back on.” She followed his advice and enrolled in a secretarial school.
Still, the desire to become a singer remained strong, so she worked while attending college, majoring in music. When the opportunity to study opera with a legendary singer came along, Brown accepted. Eventually she tried out for New York’s Metropolitan Opera and was rejected three times. When she was 33, and at the age limit for sopranos to audition, she tried once more, and was accepted. From there she had to serve as an understudy for several years.
Finally, when a featured singer became ill, Brown earned the chance to sing a lead role in an opera. The New York Times proclaimed her debut a “triumph”. To many people, Angela Brown became an “overnight sensation”. At that time she was 40 years old and had prepared for 20 years. “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success,” wrote self-help author Napoleon Hill.
Never give up
There is great wisdom in the saying that “appearances can be deceiving”. Though a situation can appear to be hopeless, that is often not the reality. Never give up just because a circumstance looks discouraging. Consider the experience of a friend of mine who was invited to play a game of Monopoly. As he played it was clear to him that he was losing badly. Finally he threw up his hands saying: “OK, I lost. Let’s quit.”
But the other player said, “No, no, let’s keep going.” They did, and gradually my friend’s game improved and he won. A few weeks later the two played another game and again my friend found himself on the losing end. Frustrated, he said: “I’ve lost! I give up!” His playing partner, however, insisted they continue “a little longer”. They did, and yet again the odds changed and my friend won. This happened a third time the two played Monopoly, at which point my friend’s partner said, “I’m not going to encourage you to keep going again!”
When you’re feeling low, dig deep. God has the strength and you can have the confidence to override the desire to give up. Remember that discouragement is temporary, but giving up makes it permanent.
Never give up!