Three Feet from Gold – A Lesson in Quitting

For last few months, I’ve been closely watching Ben’s 6aliens blog.  On this site, Ben has a lot of top-notch personal development posts that are filled with useful content.  So I was really excited when he contacted me last week for a guest post.

Success in life, no matter what field or niche you are in, leaves clues that others can follow. The vast majority of successful people, those high-achievers who we all look up to in awe, have made their fortunes by innovating other people’s beliefs and strategies.

If you think about it, for you to learn something new, you very rarely discover it for yourself. What you do is pick up a book, watch a video, speak to a friend or take a class. To gain a great understanding, you actively learn from what others before you have done and learned. You already know that success leaves clues and you’re working with that principle right now by visiting Steve’s site and reading this.

panning for fools gold
Creative Commons License photo credit: jimmiehomeschoolmom

The Maximise Potential Podcast

Maybe it’s the teacher in me, I don’t know, but I can find knowledge and inspiration for action just about anywhere. Today I want to share with you one of my favourite stories to help demonstrate one of the most critical parts of success that most people run from.

Before I get into it though, I was listening to a podcast called Maximise Potential the other day (its a really good listen if you like your motivating podcasts by the way) and there was an interview with record breaking explorer and adventurer, Pen Hadow.

In the episode, Pen was talking about his view of failure and it was interesting to hear that he doesn’t see “failures” as anything more than opportunities to learn, develop and change something that brings you closer to your goals. Bear that in mind while you chase your goals today.

Giving up on the gold rush

It was this idea of quitting when presented with temporary defeat that caused a prospector, RU Darby, and his uncle to give up on a fortune. Life generally throws a curve ball and makes things difficult, right before you break through to achieve a goal. Darby and his uncle didn’t know this and missed out on wealth greater than they could ever have imagined.

Caught by “gold fever” Darby’s uncle staked a claim and set to work with picks and shovels. After weeks of hard work he struck gold. With no heavy machines to haul it out of the ground he covered his new fortune up and raced home to rally his family and friends for financial support. Darby stepped in and, armed with enough money to buy the kit they needed, they headed back to mine. They drew out the first load of gold to find that they had stumbled on to one of the richest deposits of gold in the state of Colorado! Excitedly, they ploughed on but after a few more loads, discovered that the gold vein had stopped. Their future wealth literally disappeared from sight.

They drilled on but kept coming up with nothing. Finally, after an endless search, they gave up, sold their machines to a local junk man for a couple hundred bucks and left for home with not much to show for all their hard work.

But, as with all good stories, there’s a twist at the end of this tale. The junk man wasn’t as stupid as people thought he was. After Darby and his uncle had left, he called a mining engineer to come and have a look at the mine. Having had time to study the mine, the engineer came to the conclusion that the only reason the mine had dried up was because of fault lines. After working out the numbers, he realised that Darby had stopped drilling just 3 feet from a vein of gold worth millions of dollars. Obviously the junk man set to work and mined until he was a very wealthy man. Who wouldn’t?

Quitters never win – winners never quit.

Quitting when it seems like you’re at the end of your run is never the right decision if you’re passionate and driven enough by your goals. If RU Darby had kept drilling, found his own engineer to offer advice or kept on trying elsewhere, the story may not have the impact that it does. If you’re a goal driven person and you’re chasing your dreams of success, don’t give up until you strike gold. If it seems that the end is in sight, get help, try somewhere else or just keep going. You’re much closer than you think.

Steve’s Note: Ben Lumley is a Success Coach and Speaker from the UK who writes about self development at his blog  Why not connect with him on Twitter  @6aliens or if you liked this article then why not subscribe to his RSS Feed.

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19 thoughts on “Three Feet from Gold – A Lesson in Quitting”

  1. Hi Steve and Ben,

    Very nice post. If we really want to achieve something, we should never give up even if we face many obstacles. If we believe and want to succeed, then we will. Thanks for sharing

  2. Hi Steve,

    I’m Kevin Matthews, the host and producer of the Maximise Potential Podcast, and I just wanted to check in and say hi.

    Thanks for the great compliment about the show – it’s great to hear that type of feedback and to know that we are on the right lines with the interviews we are creating.

    Would really like to connect a bit more and I’ll stay in touch with your blog and your insightful posts!


  3. Hi Scott

    Good post.

    I love this story but what it taught me was not only to keep working towards the goal but also to get advice from people who are knowledgeable and who I trust. They may be able to tell me to move my digger a few feet.


  4. Hey both 🙂
    I love stories Ben. I remember the point of them so much more easily but the whole process of hearing or reading is so much more enjoyable too when it’s held together in a story. For that reason alone I would have loved this post. But then it came with such a great, inspirational punch at the end so now I love it even more.

    Quitters never win – winners never quit. Great message to lead us into the weekend.
    El x

    • Thanks El

      I find story telling is such a powerful tool to inspire and motivate people and this one from Napoleon Hill’s great Think and Grow Rich is a great one.

  5. What a great and relevant story, Ben.

    I must admit in my entrepreneurial experience I’ve felt like I’ve hit “the end” on several occasions. Either because opportunity seems to have run out, or I’ve got tired of something. I’ve learned those moments need to be paid attention to. Instead of seeing them as endings, I try to reframe them as new beginnings, shifts in the road, or the final personal challenge ahead of success. A good question is “What else could I try here..?” Or “How else could I think of this..?”

    They say that the darkest hour is just before dawn. I think there’s some real truth in that!

    • Those are such great questions Christine.

      I find that “end” situations are also a great time to learn something about yourself or develop a skill. It’s as if the universe is saying “you need to learn patience here” or “you need to develop determination from this.”

  6. Great story Ben. I know I have quit on things just before they paid off and have kicked myself for it. I hope that everyone can remember this story when it seems like time to give up, especially in our blogging and entrepreneurial world

    • Yes Ben’s story brings up some great points. As Christine said, ” It is always darkest before the dawn” A little pig-headedness can sometimes help to push you over hump.

      Thanks for a great guest post Ben.


    • Thomas Edison said that one of the most important skills in life is “stickwithitness”

      I’ve been in the same position as you Justin – its a hard but rewarding skill to learn pushing through and sticking with it

      • that is one thing I always tell myself and others that I have, whether you call it stickwithitness or tenacity, it is one attribute that I try to foster. It is easy to give up though. I have also heard it called the “Terrier:” attitude because those little dogs won’t give up.

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