When it seems like nothing is working, there is always another move to be made.
February 8, 2013
Nothing is ever easy. If you think it is, you’ve had your head stuck under the sand far too long. Life and work and the writers of eBooks do not follow a simple and narrow course to success, and we often change our measure of success as we go along.
It’s hard. And that’s been said before.
It’s tough. Also said before.
It’s demanding. No one has ever argued the point.
But I hold on to one truism during the journey.
No matter how many times you get knocked down, no matter how many times you fail, no matter how many times you come to end of your rope and believe that you have run out of hope and are wasting your time, there is always one more move to make.
And I am constantly dragged along by my memory of Martha Berry. She grew up in the hills of North Georgia and realized that she had been among the fortunate few in the hollows of a poverty-stricken country. She had gone to college. Yet the mountain children living around her, she knew, would never have that chance.
So she gave them one.
She started Berry College near her home in Rome, but her heart was bigger than her bank account. Tuition was free. It might as well be. The students had no money, but they brought what they could: a jar of jam, a quilt, a spare chicken or two, and even the family milk cow.
For tuition, they chopped wood, cleaned the classrooms, gathered eggs, cooked the meals, and scrubbed the wooden floors. They grew what they had to eat or there would be an empty table awaiting them at suppertime.
Martha Berry faced crisis after crisis, and the culprit was always the same. Money was tight. Money was running out, and she feared she would have to close the doors to Berry College. Hope became as scarce as a wrinkled dollar bill.
A student ran into her office one morning, holding a newspaper clipping he had found in the library. “You need to talk to Henry Ford,” he said.
“Why on earth should I do that?” Martha Berry wanted to know.
“It says right here in the newspaper that he’s got a lot of money and giving it away to people who need it,” the boy said. His hands were trembling. “I think we need it, Miss Berry.”
That afternoon, she sat down and wrote Henry Ford, telling him about the dreams and hopes she had for educating the children of North Georgia. Maybe – just maybe – Henry Ford could provide some financial assistance.
By now, however, Henry Ford had become a bitter, cynical, and skeptical man. It seemed to him that every person and organization in the country was knocking on his door and begging for free money. He had grown tired of it. He had grown jaded.
Ford did, however, send Martha Berry some money.
He sent her a single dime. Thin. Worn. Worth ten cents and nothing more.
Martha Berry could have been disappointed. She could have simply told herself, “Well, I tried, and it just didn’t work out.”
But Martha Berry had another move.
She took the dime down to a feed store and bought ten cents worth of peanuts. She and her students diligently planted the peanuts and, at season’s end, harvested the peanuts and sold them for fifteen hundred dollars.
Not bad. She had parlayed one thin dime into a lot of money, but Martha Berry wasn’t through.
She had another move to make.
She deposited the money in the bank, wrote out a check, and sent it to Henry Ford. She said, “Sir, here is your fifteen hundred dollar dividend for your dime investment in Berry College.”
Henry Ford took the next train to Rome, Georgia.
He met Martha Berry.
He watched the children work.
He watched them study.
And when he left, Henry Ford left behind three million dollars.
She had made her moves, and hers had been a dime well spent. She would never face a financial crisis again.
We write. We publish. We tweet. We blog. And books aren’t selling. Yet, here is no future in being disappointed, disgruntled, or ever harboring the thought of giving up.
You’re never at the end of the line.
You’re never at the end of your rope.
As an author, as a publisher, as a marketer, you always have one more move to make.
How will you make yours?