The book really should be called 10 big fat giant nuggets that will make you a better person and show you how to accomplish whatever it is you want in life while keeping the proper perspective and treating others with the love and respect they deserve. But that was probably a little too long for a book title so Og Mandino titled his book The Greatest Salesman in the World.
It’s unfortunate that the word salesman is in the title because I am certain that zillions of people who could have benefited massively from the lessons in the book never read it because they thought it was for salesman. The book was published first in 1968 and has sold in excess of 50 million copies around the world. The picture above is my current copy. As you can see, it is held together by duct tape (which is also my go-to for any type of home repair). This is the fifth copy I have had, and like this one, I read the other ones until they completely fell apart. A new copy is in my future but not quite yet.
I first started reading this book in 1990, and I have been reading from it pretty much daily since. Yup, that is 26 years of reading from the same book, and yet each time I read from it, some things jump out at me as if I am reading for the first time. Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway) this book has had a profound impact on my life. This month I am reading from the chapter on persistence. This is one of my favorite chapters, and I believe one of the chapters that adequately defines my approach to any pursuit in my life. “Childish swipes” resonates deeply with me and comes from this sentence:
“from childish swipes the oak will eventually tumble.”-Og Mandino
I can picture a child with an axe sloppily swiping at an oak tree with little to no technique or skill. Yet after even one swipe the child can notice a tiny nick in the oak and is then encouraged to swipe at it again. After swiping at the tree steadily, the child begins to develop a little more technique. The swipes become true swings. After still more swings, the child starts to understand how to better use his/her body to put more power in the swing. After a bit longer the child begins to see a substantial cut in the tree and this renews the vigor and intensity. In time, what started as a childish swipe becomes the final powerful perfected swing that fells the 150 foot tree and the child stands back and gazes triumphantly on what has been accomplished.
The child is me and you. For me, I have never been a fast learner. For many years I struggled with low self-confidence. So at best, when I began something I took a half-hearted, low expectation swipe at my endeavors. But as I grew as a person and matured in my understanding of what success required, I learned to keep swiping until I could start swinging. And then I would just keep swinging and swinging.
Now? I know that swinging and swinging without ceasing can carve any mountain of my dreams. It is only a matter of defining what mountain to tackle, identifying the tools to use, and beginning the process.
You don’t need fret over what you don’t know yet when you are facing a pursuit of the heart, you just need to find a way to take the first childish swipe. From that point forward, as you keep swiping away, you will grow into the skills you need to reach the goal.