Anonymous Distributor

Harvey Mackay tells the following great story about a son asking his mother what he needs to do to be a success when he grows up.

The mother thought for a moment, and then told her son to bring her a pencil. Puzzled, the boy found a pencil and gave it to her.

“If you want to do good,” she said, “you have to be just like this pencil.”

“What does that mean?” her son asked.

“First,” she said, “like a pencil, you’ll be able to do a lot of things, but not on your own. You have to allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand.”

The mother is talking about teamwork. You can’t do it all by yourself. Mackay defines teamwork as a collection of diverse individuals who respect each other and are committed to each other’s success. You can’t be successful without a committed team working with you.

“Second,” she said, “like a pencil, you’ll have to go through a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.”

Giving and taking criticism is not an easy task, but it is necessary to become better. No one ever choked to death swallowing his or her own pride. Accepting honest criticism or a suggestion will make you better than you were before.

“Third, like a pencil, you’ll be able to correct any mistakes you make,” she said.

Everyone makes mistakes. That’s one way you learn. Mistakes don’t make you a failure. There are really no mistakes in life; there are only lessons.

“Fourth, like a pencil, no matter what you look like on the outside, the most important part will always be what’s on the inside,” she said.

Most people aren’t born with self confidence. Mackay’s advice to develop self confidence is: track your success, practice being assertive, accept that failure is not the end of the world, step out of your comfort zone, set goals, keep improving your skills, and above all else, don’t compare yourself to others.

“And fifth,” the mother finished, “like a pencil, you’ll have to press hard to make a mark.”

Success comes before work only in the dictionary. There is no magic formula or magic wand. Even people with natural talent or skills, continually hone those talents or skills with lots of hard work and practice.

The mother touched on five important topics: teamwork, being able to accept criticism, correcting mistakes, self confidence, and working hard. That’s good advice for all of us.


Rev. Robert Schuller says there are four kinds of people: “First, there are the cop-outs. These people set no goals and make no decisions.

“Second, there are the hold-outs. They have a beautiful dream, but they’re afraid to respond to its challenge because they aren’t sure they can make it. These people have lost all childlike faith.

“Third, there are the drop-outs. They start to make their dream come true. They know their role. They set their goals. But when the going gets tough, they quit. They don’t pay the toll.

“Finally, there are the all-outs. They are the people who know their role. They want and need and are going to be stars: star students, star parents, star waitresses. They want to shine out as an inspiration to others. They set their goals…The all-outs never quit. Even when the toll gets heavy, they’re dedicated. They’re committed.

“To be committed, you must be ‘all in.’ You can’t just do the best you can. You have to do everything you can. Remember, the difference between 100-percent ‘all in’ and 99-percent ‘all in’ is 100 percent.”


When I think of commitment, I think of the story of the Pig and the Chicken walking down the road.

The Chicken says: “Hey, Pig! I was thinking we should open a restaurant!”

The Pig replies: “Hmmm, what would we call it?”

The Chicken responds: “How about ‘Ham-n-Eggs’?”

The Pig thinks for a moment and says: “No, thanks. I’d be committed, but you’d only be involved!”


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