Keep Pegging Away

brainpickingsYet, another remarkable post from Brainpickings titled 9 Rules for Success where Maria Popova shares excerpts from an essay by British novelist Amelia E. Barr (1831-1919).  Barr, despite a devastating loss of her husband and three of their six children to yellow fever in 1867, went on to become a dedicated and diligent writer, eventually reaching critical success at the age of fifty-two.  I’d encourage you to read the entire post at this link as it is that good.  Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:

1) Men and women succeed because they take pains to succeed. Industry and patience are almost genius; and successful people are often more distinguished for resolution and perseverance than for unusual gifts. They make determination and unity of purpose supply the place of ability.

2) Success is the reward of those who “spurn delights and live laborious days.” We learn to do things by doing them. One of the great secrets of success is “pegging away.” No disappointment must discourage, and a run back must often be allowed, in order to take a longer leap forward.

5) We have been told, for centuries, to watch for opportunities, and to strike while the iron is hot. Very good; but I think better of Oliver Cromwell’s amendment — “make the iron hot by striking it.”

6) Everything good needs time. Don’t do work in a hurry. Go into details; it pays in every way. Time means power for your work. Mediocrity is always in a rush; but whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing with consideration. For genius is nothing more nor less than doing well what anyone can do badly.

9) Don’t fail through defects of temper and over-sensitiveness at moments of trial. One of the great helps to success is to be cheerful; to go to work with a full sense of life; to be determined to put hindrances out of the way; to prevail over them and to get the mastery. Above all things else, be cheerful; there is no beatitude for the despairing.

It is better to have the opportunity of victory, than to be spared the struggle; for success comes but as the result of arduous experience. The foundations of my success were laid before I can well remember; it was after at least forty-five years of conscious labor that I reached the object of my hope. Many a time my head failed me, my hands failed me, my feet failed me, but, thank God, my heart never failed me.


  1. Heart never fails for those who have hope, arms and legs may get tired ..but faith makes it happen..fate is then in our control.


  2. “Everything good needs time” – that’s so true..


  3. “A full sense of life”…yes. Thanks for sharing this David. 🙂


  4. I practiced # 6 and #9 today as I vacuumed. My spirits were lifted and I enjoyed the job thoroughly. I believe I’ve mastered the art of cleaning in every corner of the room, and even under the couch. All that’s left to do is go get my head examined. (I know, I know. It’s meant to be applied to loftier things than vacuuming.) 🙂


  5. Good advice!! Love the graphic!!


  6. petit4chocolatier says:

    Well spoken.


  7. I’m reading “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough. Its the story of building the Brooklyn Bridge between 1869 and 1883. highly recommended.

    Perseverance. Vision. Perseverance. Genius. Perseverance. Leadership. Perseverance.

    The 9 points of Amelia Barr are right on. Washington Roebling, who worked with his father to design the bridge and then was the chief engineer, architect, and project manager of the construction of the bridge was the living embodiment of those principles.

    He and his father John had the vision but without Washington’s fearless dedication no bridge would have been built.

    The younger Roebling would agree that luck has nothing to do with success. He also didn’t believe in accidents.

    Thanks for the brain pickings David!


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