Only Steps From Exactly What You Want

About an hour before sunset, I headed down to the rivers where I walk a few miles on most days. I live near the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and cross a footbridge that takes me from the historical town of Harpers Ferry over the Potomac River to the C&O Canal.

While I was on the footbridge, a tourist family with excited children stopped to ask me if the bridge was a dead-end. I heard them earlier talking about seeing all the historical sites around Harpers Ferry. I happily replied, “oh no, on the other side of the bridge is the C&O Canal that runs from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania down through Washington DC and down to Alexandria, Virginia. And there’s a canal lock right at the end of the bridge where you can see where they filled the lock so the boats could travel up the canal.” The wife, said, “Oh, it’s right there?” and then looked at her husband and said with excitement, “Let’s do it!”

As I passed them on the return trip, I realized they had not crossed the bridge. The husband had apparently decided it was too far (it was less than 1/8 of a mile). Or maybe it wasn’t exciting enough. (He was also the one who assumed the bridge was a “dead-end.”) The children were skipping ahead. I asked if they had gone across to see the canal. They said, “No, dad didn’t think it would be worth it.”

A wife and three young children would have been very happy to cross and explore the other side. Dad didn’t think the eighth of a mile would be worth it. They turned around.

So maybe crossing the footbridge and seeing the canal is not high on your list.

But how many times do we think about something we want and question whether the effort will be worth it? How many times do we stop literally feet away from what would give us exactly what we want?

This is sometimes called the “three feet from gold” syndrome. It comes from the story of a young man who was mining for gold in California. For long months, he worked but found no gold. Growing weary and disillusioned at the lack of immediate success, he decided to quit. He sold all his equipment to a junk man. The “junk man” got to work and struck gold literally 3 feet away from where the first miner had given up.

Much of what we enjoy in our modern life is because of people who never gave up:

  • Abraham Lincoln had a long history of failure, losing jobs, elections, and even the love of his life. He became a champion of equality and civil rights in the face of great opposition. His face is in the U.S. five dollar bill.
  • Sir James Dyson went through 5,126 prototypes over 15 years and all his savings before the 5,127th prototype worked. He became worth over $5 million dollars.
  • Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was 4 years old and failed the examination to enter his university. He gave us the theory of relativity and developed the beginnings of quantum theory.
  • Thomas Edison famously failed 1,000 times in trying to invent the light bulb. He changed our lives.
  • And then there are all the people before Roger Bannister who couldn’t run a 4” mile. As soon as Roger achieved this feat, people began making the same time. It had become possible. As of April 2021, 1,663 athletes have broken the 4 minute mile, and the current record time is 3:43:13.

What do you really want?

What kind of failure are you willing to endure in order to get what you want?

Where is your three feet standing between you and what you really want?

Are you ready for success?

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Sherri Bartin Avatar

I’m Sherri, and as a Certified Life Coach

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