Three Feet From Gold

It’s time again for another installment of, for lack of a more clever title, “Resources That Have Helped Me.” 

Early into my own recovery process, a friend of mine recommended a book for me to read. It had been recommended to him as a book that would change his life, and he recommended it the same way to me.  To this day, I think both of us would credit this book as one of the most important books we have ever read. 

We are not alone in this either. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill is commonly cited by extremely successful entrepreneurs and business folk (look it up if you’re bored) as an influence on their careers and success.  I don’t want that to sway anyone, though. Although the title may suggest otherwise, the book isn’t necessarily focused on getting rich. I mean, it is and it isn’t.

The bigger message here is the focus on learning how to master and overcome the psychological barriers that prevent many of us from attaining success (however you choose to define that). 

I’m not really doing a book report here. So, I won't go much further in the details of the book, but I did want to share an excerpt that has probably helped me through more tough times than anything else. 

Below is a story from the book titled “Three Feet From Gold.” I can’t tell you how often I think about this story. It applies to every aspect of life if you’re able to see the message.  Also, remember the book was written in 1937 (and still in print) so the language is a little old-timey. 

“Three Feet From Gold” – Napoleon Hill

“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another.

 An uncle of R. U. Darby was caught by the gold fever in the gold-rush days, and went west to DIG AND GROW RICH. He had never heard that more gold has been mined from the brains of men than has ever been taken from the earth. He staked a claim and went to work with pick and shovel. The going was hard, but his lust for gold was definite.

 After weeks of labor, he was rewarded by the discovery of the shining ore. He needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface. Quietly, he covered up the mine, retraced his footsteps to his home in Williamsburg, Maryland, told his relatives and a few neighbors of the “strike.” They got together money for the needed machinery, had it shipped. The uncle and Darby went back to work the mine.

 The first car of ore was mined, and shipped to a smelter. The returns proved they had one of the richest mines in Colorado! A few more cars of that ore would clear the debts. Then would come the big killing in profits.

 Down went the drills!  Up went the hopes of Darby and Uncle!  Then something happened!  The vein of gold ore disappeared!  They had come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold was no longer there! They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again— all to no avail.

 Finally, they decided to QUIT.

 They sold the machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars, and took the train back home. Some “junk” men are dumb, but not this one! He called in a mining engineer to look at the mine and do a little calculating. The engineer advised that the project had failed, because the owners were not familiar with “fault lines.” His calculations showed that the vein would be found just three feet from where the Darbys had stopped drilling! That is exactly where it was found!

 The “Junk” man took millions of dollars in ore from the mine, because he knew enough to seek expert counsel before giving up.

 Most of the money which went into the machinery was procured through the efforts of R. U. Darby, who was then a very young man. The money came from his relatives and neighbors, because of their faith in him. He paid back every dollar of it, although he was years in doing so.

 Long afterward, Mr. Darby recouped his loss many times over, when he made the discovery that desire can be transmuted into gold. The discovery came after he went into the business of selling life insurance.

 Remembering that he lost a huge fortune, because he stopped three feet from gold, Darby profited by the experience in his chosen work, by the simple method of saying to himself, “I stopped three feet from gold, but I will never stop because men say ‘no’ when I ask them to buy insurance.”

 Darby is one of a small group of fewer than fifty men who sell more than a million dollars in life insurance annually. He owes his stickability to the lesson he learned from his quitability in the gold mining business.

 Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them. Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning. It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach.” 

 I will let everyone come to his or her own understanding of that story. But, I will say this, if you take the monetary aspect out of the story and apply it to any other temporary setback or defeat you may be experiencing, it still applies 100%.  

For me, it basically breaks down to, “If I quit now, I won’t ever get to see what could have been.”