Many years ago, this man said, “Success is a journey not a destination. The doing is usually more important than the outcome. Not everyone can be Number 1.”
He didn’t start out successful. He grew up a black in the age of segregation in the South.
As a boy, he really wanted to play football with the other boys. But his father wouldn’t let him. You see, young Robert was tall but not stocky. So to prevent him from being pummeled to death, his father allowed him to play tennis on the city playground where their home was located in Richmond, VA.
Robert continued to practice tennis into high school. He soon become very good. But he had to travel some distance to play against the white kids. When an invitation came to St. Louis and play there freely, off he went.
Even as a youth, Robert understood that you have to do certain things to ensure success. Zig Ziglar calls it priming, pumping, and producing. You can see him talk about it here.
Most of us probably haven’t seen an old water pump that had to be primed and pumped before you could have a drink. It’s a great illustration of how you can achieve greatness at anything in life. First, you have to prime the pump with an all-out effort that is unrelenting and passionate. Keep on pumping until you see water coming out. Don’t give up too soon or you’ll have to start over! If you’ll keep on pumping with a lot of vigor until the water begins to flow, then you can apply an even, steady effort to keep it going.
Robert knew you couldn’t stand in front of the stove of life and say, “All right stove. Give me some heat and I’ll put some wood in you.” By investing his afternoons in practicing tennis every day, he earned a tennis scholarship at UCLA, headed the Army’s tennis program, and as a professional became recognized as the best tennis player in the world.
His name was Arthur Robert Ashe.
Now you may not conquer the world on the tennis court, but with an all-out effort combined with passion and persistence, you can do extremely well in what you choose to do.
Success is a journey. So long as you keep pumping, you’ll be on your way.
The world will be better for it.