The Sweet Spin of Success
Napoleon Hill, an American author, once said, “Edison failed 10,000 times before he made the electric light. Do not be discouraged if you fail a few times.” People do not learn from success, but rather from failing to succeed. To try and fail, but learn from your mistakes is something that not enough people truly know how to do. Knowing that, it seems strange that perseverance is a skill that is necessary to have success in life, one which if developed, makes everything within your reach.
Lucky for me when I was three years old my grandfather decided to teach me a simple activity that would help me learn and develop this skill: spinning a top. This seemingly easy action was quite a challenge for me. I was uniquely coordinated and this was one of the few activities that did not come easy to me. I was kind of small for my age, incredibly hyper with the attention span of a chipmunk, and in a hurry to grow up and be one of the “big kids.”
At this point in my life we could go and visit my grandparents at their home in North County every weekend. They lived in a small, one-story house in Florissant. There were wooden floors in the back of the house, where most of our time was spent. We would play games, or sit around, or just go to the store. One day was different though. My grandfather pulled me away from where I had been playing with my older cousins and told me he was going to teach me how to do something he had taught all of the other cousins. That is what lured me away from my careless frolicking into what turned into and intense day of work. I had always wanted to be like the bigger kids and this was my opportunity to prove that I was in fact a “big girl.” This was the day that I discovered the determination and willpower that lay within me.
My grandfather started explaining how to spin a top by showing me and explaining what you do: hold the top bit between your thumb and forefinger, squeeze it, flick your wrist and release. It seemed simple enough, or so I thought. I picked up the bright red top, mimicked my grandfather’s motions, and…nothing…it fell. I tried again and had the exact same result. “How could I be defeated by such a simple task?” I wondered. As I kept trying to get the top to whirl the blaring sounds of the television in the other room became muffled and faded into the background to the point where I could barely hear them. All of my attention was pulled to the fiendish red object and how to make it twirl.
As the minutes ticked away, my interest turned into annoyance, which in turn became to frustration, which eventually lead to determination to accomplish this feat. As the afternoon wore on, my cousins had gotten bored with whatever they were doing and formed a crowded around me. All of their encouraging words were falling on deaf ears, my focus was so intense. My focus was so intense that I had failed to notice the passage of time. The sun’s rays danced across the pale blue room. There was nothing besides the top, the table, my grandfather, and myself.
Finally, around two hours after we started, I did it: I made the top spin. I couldn’t believe it, all my hard work had paid off. At first I thought it was a fluke, there was no way that after hours of trying that it would happen out of the blue, so I just sat there and stared at it, trapped in my own little world, but as my cousin’s cheers reached my ears and shook my back to reality, I realized that I had indeed accomplished my goal. I tried to spin that top a few more times and kept producing the same result. The top twirled around and around. The bright colors painted on top blurred together in a brilliant rainbow. I could feel the pride radiating of off my grandfather as his chest swelled up. Everyone there was extremely excited and surprised that I managed to find the will and determination it took to attain the patience to sit and learn how to do something.
That day I did much more than learn to spin a top and spend an afternoon with my grandfather; I found out that not everything is easy. I discovered that when goals are more difficult to accomplish, the better you feel about being able to do it when you finally can. And because of that discovery it is one of my favorite childhood memories and one that has stayed with me the longest. I found a trait that I would need for many years to come. I discovered how to persevere.