From time to time, we all get “a little down in the dumps” and feel depressed or uninspired. It’s human nature. If inspiration is what you need, maybe you’ll find it in these success stories.
Way back, before the U.S. Civil War, a man named Edmund McIlhenny had a sugar plantation and saltworks in Louisiana. When war came and the Yankees invaded, McIlhenny fled. When he returned two years later, he found his sugar fields and saltworks destroyed.
About the only things left were some hot Mexican peppers that had re-seeded themselves in the garden. McIlhenny started experimenting with ground peppers to make a sauce that would liven up his meagre diet. The sauce turned out to be very popular with his friends, so he started selling it. At first, since he was nearly broke, he bottled the sauce in old, discarded cologne bottles he found in a local dump.
His sauce, McIlhenny’s famous Tobasco sauce, succeeded. His company succeeded and became one of the oldest, most successful family enterprises around.
Don’t be so sure
Back in the late 1870s, the Methodists in Indiana held their annual conference, and at one point, the president of the host college was chatting with the presiding bishop about the future.
“What do you see in the future?” asked the bishop.
The college president replied: “I think we live in a very exciting age which will eventually produce great inventions. For example, I think that someday men will fly through the air like birds!”
The bishop was shocked. “This is heresy!” he snapped. “The Bible says that flight is reserved for the angels, and we will have no more talk here of such nonsense as men actually flying.”
After the conference, the bishop, who’s name was Wright, went home to his wife and two small boys — Orville and Wilbur.
Success sometimes comes
in strange ways
Years ago, a man in his sixties was offered almost $200,000 for a restaurant, motel and service station complex that he had spent his life building.
He declined the offer because he loved the business and wasn’t ready to retire. But sadly, as a twist of fate would have it, the state built a new highway that by-passed his business and two years later he was bankrupt. Most men would have been devastated by such a turn of events, but he refused to give up.
At age 65, he took stock of what he had. There was one thing he knew how to do and that was fry chicken. Maybe he could sell that knowledge to others. He set off in an old car with a pressure cooker and a can of specially prepared flour to sell his idea. It wasn’t easy. He often ended up sleeping in the car because there wasn’t enough money for a hotel room. But he didn’t give up.
In fact, a few years later, he had built a nationwide market for his special method of frying chicken. Using this as a base, he set out to establish a franchised restaurant chain which he eventually sold for $2 million.
As you’ve probably guessed, the chain is KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and the man’s name was Colonel Harland Sanders.
It ain’t over ’til it’s over
It would have been hard to find a less likely athlete than Yogi Berra when he showed up at Yankee Stadium in 1947. Bench jockies jeered at the short, squat and awkward little man of the malaprops.
Yogi’s throwing was wild. He once threw to second base and hit his pitcher in the chest. Another time, he beaned the second-base umpire who happened to be 10 feet away from the bag.
Discouraging? Yes. But Yogi worked endlessly to correct his shortcomings as a catcher. He spent extra time in the batting cage and studied the hitters from the other teams until he knew their weaknesses inside and out.
And what happened? His hard work paid off. Yogi Berra played on 14 pennant-winning teams, hit 358 home runs, was voted league MVP three times and set 18 World Series records.